Mick had the chance to sit down and speak with the eminent Indian poet T. Vasudeva (T.V.) Reddy. A retired professor of literature, T.V. Reddy is a renowned poet, novelist, and critic of literature. He is the author of 10 collections of poetry, with his most recent collection Thousand Haiku Pearls released in 2016. Read the full interview and select poems below:
MT: How did you get your start?
TVR: It was toward the close of my school career I began writing poetry. It was during my 10th and 11th class. We call it the SSLC- the Secondary School Learning Certificate. First I was trying to write poetry in my mother tongue, Telugu, one of the popular Indian languages. Right from the beginning I was very much interested in poetry. When my teachers were teaching poetry, I was totally absorbed into it. That's why I first started writing in Telugu, but then toward the end of my school career I started writing in English. My father was a source of inspiration for me. He was a school teacher and he taught me English. He also taught me how to write poetry. In college, I used to write poems for magazines. Once I completed my MA in English, I became a lecturer in English. For a few years, I only taught and read poetry. Later on, I began reading established Indian-English poets and felt their poetry does not convey the right spark of poetry. I thought I could write better poetry. And that was how my first book of poetry got published.
MT: What inspires you to write poetry?
TVR: Mostly I'm inspired by rural sights and scenes and situations. The pastoral life. The country life, so to say. Because farmers and peasants are there. Their problems and afflictions are there. I'm just moved by their problems and whatever difficulty and sufferings those people are faced with, I try to paint them in the form of poems.
MT: What makes a good poem?
TVR: We can consider a poem really good when it is able to move us. You should have an appeal to the heart. Otherwise, it cannot be a great poem at all. It becomes dry, dull, matter-of-fact prose. We can call it a verse, but not a poem. Poems should appeal to us, they should appeal to the heart and not simply to the mind.
MT: Who are some good poets to read?
TVR: Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron, Milton. The Romantics are very good. You can consider them as classical poets. They remain as unforgettable immortal poets. One thousand years from now they will be remembered in the same way.
T.V. Describes Where He Draws Influence From
MT: Why is poetry important?
TVR: Poetry is the best medium to express one's feelings and emotions. That's why we name poetry as the first and foremost literary genre in the history of an literature. Poetry has the ability to make a deep impression on the mind itself. It's not like a piece of prose. There is little durability with prose. Poetry is the expression of imagination. Of the deepest feelings of the heart. And that's why poetry has an everlasting quality.
MT: What words of advice do you have for aspiring artists?
TVR: Everyone should try to cultivate minimum ethics and morality. Everyone should be tuned in moral thinking itself. And that should be the main force behind your writing. Reasonable importance should be given to morality. Otherwise, human beings become something like robots. They become totally mechanical.