Mr. Goutam Karmakar, Research Scholar of Durgapur.
It all started with a call and mail from a research scholar from West Bengal on 21st January.
I was indeed delighted to receive this from an unknown and unheard Research Scholar and the matters moved fast and here is a SUNDAY STORY in ENVIUS THOUGHTS in https://nvsr.wordpress.com and I am sure my esteemed viewers from more than two hundred countries will enjoy.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MULTIFACETED AND MULTILINGUAL STUDIES
1st December 2016 Website: http://www.ijmms.in Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top Officer-cum-poet and translator: An interview with N.V.Subbaraman by
Here is a photocopy of the Interview. Readable copy in bigger fonts is given after this photo copy for your more comfortable read.
Born on July 31st 1941 in Tamilnadu, N V Subbaraman has established himself as one of the emerging poetic voices in the arena of Indian English Poetry. His mother tongue is Telugu. Having been born, brought up, educated and employed for long and living in Tamilnadu he knows Tamil well in addition to his mother tongue, English, Hindi and Sanskrit to an extent. He is a graduate in Mathematics and a Fellow in Insurance. He has served the premier Public Sector Undertaking Life Insurance Corporation of India for four decades, served as a part of his Central office, in the States of Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. He has retired in 2001 as Deputy Zonal Manager and post retirement served as a Director in an HR Training Organization and as a Managing Director of a company. Even when he was in service he used to write prose and verse for several magazines and readers will find details as they go down. Since the age of seventy, he has given up all his gainful employment and concentrating only on literary activities. He is a bilingual poet in Tamil and English. He is also a communicator, writer, speaker, and a trainer. Being a small time writer he has thirty seven published books to his credit. He is a translator from English to Tamil and vice versa. Totally he has to my credit translated works numbering 16 in prose and verse.
He is a Blogger-keeping ENVIUS THOUGHTS in https://nvsr.wordpress.com where he posts an English poem original or translated every day from Monday to Saturday and a Sunday story right from 28/2/2015 till this day without a single break.
He is a Haikuist and has written more than 1000 Haiku poems strictly in 5-7-5 pattern, with first and third line rhyming.
He has eleven awards for his literary activities including the latest KAVI NILAVU and to be awarded UWA ADMIRABLE ACHIEVER AWARD 2016/17 by the
United Writers Association of Indian Association formed to kindle the light of love and compassion among all nations and whenever possible. He is greatly attached to Saint Tamil Poet Thiruvalluvar, Mahatma Gandhi and Tamil national poet Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathi. He is a simpleton, out and out a humanist and a universalist keeping strictly to certain principles of life. He wrote long back and he holds to that. His poetic principle is very simple as he often says:
I know no God
I know no Bible
I follow and practice
“Help ever, hurt never”
“Love all, Serve all”
“Be kind, be friendly!”
That is all what I know on earth and
That is all what I need to practice!
In an encounter N.V.Subbaraman has unlocked his heart before Goutam Karmakar where he has given all the answers about his personal life and creative process and his readers will be highly pleased to know the insight of this great poet and translator.
TEXT OF THE INTERVIEW
Q1. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Sir please allow me to start the interview by asking you
about your childhood days, schooling and college days. So tell your readers about all these.
N V Subbaraman: Thanks a plenty Goutam. It is always a pleasure to think of our childhood days up to the stage of education.
“We look before and after
And pine for what is not!
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught
Our sweetest songs are those
That tell of saddest thought.”
These are the finest words from the greatest poet PB Shelley whom I love in admiration and respect deeply for long. I was born in a family of ‘humble means’ but ‘noble origin’. My grandfather was one of the leading advocates of those days say more than a century ago- –who used to charge more than Rs.1000 for an hour’s sitting in the court. At the same time he will appear for free for social and religious causes! He was a freedom fighter and naturally did not attend to his legal profession seriously and hence our ‘humble means’!
From age 1 to 20, I lived in a small 300 sq.feet house- with mud flooring, no well, no electric power, and no toilet! We were three brothers and our parents in that house at a rent of Rs. 9/-a month.
My father was a teacher- belonged to the noblest of the callings- and his students used to say “think of Shri Viswanatha Iyer in your examination hall, you will do extremely well”!
I had my schooling in a municipal school up to 7th standard and then in a private school for 7th to 11th standard- for Secondary School Leaving Certificate. Then I studied my Pre University Class and B Sc degree course in Alagappa College. From birth to degree final, I studied in a place called Karaikudi- in one of the southern districts. Since we could not afford 2+2 annas for our college bus, I walked daily up and down 10 miles barefooted and with a dhothi and shirt on whether it was raining or shining!
I used to play hockey in college and cricket with tennis ball outside the college.
One important thing in my life was my giving up of the habit of drinking coffee/tea on 14th
January 1961-Makara Sankaranthi day- at the age of 19 as a college student at the instance of a great spiritual leader known as Kanchi Jagadguru Paramacharya Shri Chandra Sekarendra saraswathy. I continue to be a teetotaler till this day!
Peculiarly, I started learning English alphabets from my 7th standard only as per the then
I cannot claim myself to be very intelligent but sure I was sufficiently industrious. My father used to teach me English and Mathematics at home. I was a member of the Scouts movement in my school days and my first Tamil poem on the Movement was published in a Scouts monthly Magazine in 1955 when I was in my 8th standard. I felt extremely happy that in my final year degree course I gave a talk in my college Mathematics Association Meeting under the title “MATHEMATICS IN SHAKESPERE”!
I am still proud of the fact that my English article titled “PHILOSOPHER OR SCIENTIST” was published in my college annual Magazine. Poverty did not deter me from aiming high and indeed I look back with pardonable pride of those carefree days.
During the morning and evening walks with my father, and daily visit to temple I could muster a lot of will power with which I could make a mark in my official career and literary world.
I am afraid I am talking too much on this topic and let me move on to the next!
Q2. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Did your childhood memories leave any impression on your
writings? Are you still missing your childhood days?
N V Subbaraman: Yes they do; happy impressions that get reflected in my poems and other
writings on nature, disciplined life, spiritual attainments and so on, till this day when I am going to be a centenarian in another 24 years!
We do miss those happy go lucky days but it is inevitable!
Q3. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Sir, when did you start writing poetry? What are the
immediate reasons for writing poetry?
N V Subbaraman: As referred earlier my first Tamil poem was written when I was 13 years old studying in 8th standard.
My first English poem “Marvel is Thy Creation” was written on 7/5/76 when I was 35 years of age, in a place called Karur where I was sent for a month on official deputation. Another poem “In Fanciful Imagination” was written while sitting on the banks of Ambazari Lake in Nagpur where I had been on an official visit in the year 1980- at my age of 39.
I cannot adduce any particular reason for writing poetry –may be some inspiration provided by and guided by the Lord Almighty on whom I immensely believe.
Q4. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What is your definition of poetry? What are the salient
poetic features of your poetry which make you different from other contemporary Indian
Poets writing in English?
N V Subbaraman: I believe in the definition given by one of the greatest English poets William Wordsworth to whom ‘a peaceful mind is the key to opening emotions. Only then is he able to recreate a precious sensation: He avers: “I have said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility”.
Yes; we experience a lot of feelings and emotions-day in and day out-from the cradle to the grave- good and bad, pain and bliss, joy and sorrow and so on. Not that we are immersed in these emotions forever and at all times. When you are sitting free sometimes irrespective of that particular age and stage, you get some inspiration from an unknown source and write something in your mind and then put it in black and white and a poem is born! .
I don’t claim myself to be a poet extraordinary; I also write some verses. My wife when she was alive till a couple of years ago, a keen observer of me, used to say that my “poems are like nursery rhymes”! Yes I believe that my hallmark is that. In one of the seminars which I attended at Bangalore, I pointed out that ‘any writing-prose or verse in any language-must be pure and simple and the reader must be in a position to understand and appreciate on his own without the help of a dictionary or a language teacher’.
There are poets and poets in the literary world and I am also one such-fortunately by HIS grace recognized as a poet just as you, Goutam, have done now and mentally are with me though thousands of miles away from me physically!
Yes. Indian poets writing in English are Indian poets writing in English!!! I cannot become a Shelley or Keats, a Milton or Shakespeare- nor a Sarojini Naidu or Rabindranath Tagore! I am I am- N V Subbaraman!
Q5. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: You are a bilingual writer. So tell me in which language do
you prefer to write more and why? At the time of composing poems in English do you
translate your native thoughts into English or directly write in English?
N V Subbaraman: Yes, I am. I don’t feel much of a difference in writing in English or Tamil or English and Tamil. I equally write in both the languages. Thoughts are thoughts- born in mind by the grace of the Goddess of Learning Sri Saraswathi and I normally write direct. I feel there is not much of a difference between ‘native thought’ and ‘foreign thought’!
Q6. GK: Till date you have published 14 books. So can you please tell us about your
journey as a writer? Have you ever faced ‘writer’s block’ while composing poems?
N V Subbaraman: Sorry it is 37 written and published more than 30 and the rest are in different stages of publication! Journey of course was by no means smooth and easy. In the present day publishing area, marketing becomes difficult in the case of self-publication. Hence I leave it to professional publishers known and unknown to me. I am able to see the question mark on your face Goutamany ROYALTY! No, I get only the satisfaction that my book has been published!!! Thank God I am not a professional writer depending on this for my daily bread and milk. If by chance any little amount comes to me, that I have made it a point to donate 50% to one organization called SEVALAYA near Chennai which runs an orphanage and Old Age Home.
“Writer’s Block!” Yes at times and we overcome it-many a time easily and sometimes with
difficulty and efforts.
Q7. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What are the sources of inspiration behind your writing?
Can you tell us the names of your favorite writers and books?
N V Subbaraman: Yes, great poets of ancient days to modern days inspire me. Kindly visit my Blog ‘ENVIUS THOUGHTS’ in https://nvsr.wordpress.com and a particular poem from the archives titled “THROUGH THE NOBLE WINGS OF POETRY”. That will explain my position better. Why? I quote it here and now:
Born are the great
All over the world
All through the ages
Spreading the message of peace and amity
Leading people to friendship and fraternity
Injecting joy and hope in mankind!
Afflicted with agony and penury more in mind
Animosity and compassion, betrayal and protection
Bad and good, pain and pleasure
Cruelty and kindness, hatred and love
Defeat and victory, failure and success
Birth and death, poverty and prosperity
Cowardice and valor, diffidence and confidence
Despair and hope, fear and courage
Sorrow and joy, vices and virtues
Vacillation and firmness- pairs of opposites!
Animals and birds, worms and insects
Hills and dales, fields and deserts
Plants and trees, flowers and fruits
Sun and moon, stars and planets
Summer and winter, Autumn and Spring
Art and culture, religion and society!
Myriad phases of life and world!
Gifted poets- ancient-medieval and modern
Marvelous mysticism and mythical meanderings
Powerful pen and pleasing prowess
Significant style and varied vision
Caste and creed, class and color
Giving message – message for the world
World peace and universal brotherhood
THROUGH THE NOBLE WINGS OF POETRY!
Dead may be, yet immortal they are
Robert Browning and Rabindranath Tagore
Wordsworth and Omarkayyam of yore
Yeats and Keats, Eliot and Milton
Shelly and Shakespeare, Dante and Tennyson
Sarojini Naidu and scores of class
Daisaku Ikeda and dozens of today!
Valmiki and Vyasa, Kalidas and Kabirdas
Barthruhari and Battadri, Surdas and Tulsi
Bharathi Dasan and Kanna Dasan, Kamban and Bharathi
Nannayya and Thikkanna, Vemana and Pothana
Thyagayya and Shyama Sastri
Annamacharya and Muthuswami Dikshithar
Mythili Saran and Sumitra Nandan
And those countless noble anons!
We bow our heads in respect and reverence
Sure for the world to find its deliverance!
On the books I read!
A defect and bad habit with me is that I don’t have any extra book reading habit?! I used to say and write-” I used to read till my college days my academic books. On entering LIC books that were required to attend my professional examinations viz up to Fellowship level and the manuals and circulars required for running the administration. Post retirement rarely here and there, now and then! Only my constant read from my age 8 or so till now is the daily newspaper THE HINDU”.
Q8. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What are the subject matters of your three volumes of
poetry written in English? Kindly illustrate a bit- the capital theme of each volume.
N V Subbaraman: Unless it is my translation work, my original writing of prose or verse in
English or Tamil, always revolve around, nature, human nature, happenings in and around me, spiritual matters here and there aimed at grooming the children and the youth-future pillars of the Nation.
Q9. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Why have you composed Haiku? Are you influenced by some Haiku writers?
N V Subbaraman: These are the fast food days. No time for the man to stand and stare!!!!!
Where is the time for him to read epics like literature of Paradise Lost or Regained, Maha
Bharatha or Ramayana?
I took a fancy for the HAIKU poems as ‘BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WISDOM” it is said. I
was also inspired by a Poets Association organized and run by one Dr. Fakhruddin from
Bangalore and their monthly publication the POETS INTERNATIONAL, largely devoted to
Haiku genre of the poetry. My long association with them made me a Haikuist; I attended a few of Seminars and I presented my entire paper in HAIKU poems in one year.
I must acknowledge the appreciation made by one Japanese Haiku poet which made me take greater interest. In his own words Dr.Kazuyosi said: “………………..The poet Subbaraman’s haiku are exactly haiku originating in Japan. But in Japan, there is no concept of rhyme; thus his rhymed haiku surpass Japanese haiku in beauty of both contents and the form- the form of his haiku is worth esteeming very highly…………”
Q10. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: You have engaged yourself in translation works. Have you
felt any difficulties in translating from Tamil to English? Do you feel any satisfaction in
translation work in comparison of composing own poems?
N V Subbaraman: Yes, Goutam, very relevant and important question to a translating poet and writer.
India is a vast and diverse country with its rich heritage, culture, religions, languages, literature, scholars, writers, poets and so on. They are indeed great treasures beyond values for the present and posterity. In a multi lingual society and the states on linguistic basis, regionalism takes its own toll on many aspects and one important impact is on the literary works of great cultural and artistic value. Due to political and other reasons there is a vast gap in connecting the people. The cause for the gap is narrow regionalism leading to parochialism. It should therefore, be the foremost duty of the broad and nationalistic minded patriots to create opportunities for the people of religions and regions, languages and cultures to move freely and absorb the greatness from others.
Translation of the rich literary works of each language into other languages of India and English is a sure way of bridging the gap.
Emphasizing on the importance of TRANSLATION in bridging the gap great National Poet
Subrahmanya Bharathiyar says:
Thaemadhurath thamizoasai ulagamelaam
Paravum vagai seydhal vaeNdum
Piranaattu nallaringar saaththirangkaL
Thamizmoziyir peyarththal vaeNdum
Thiramaana pulamaiyenil veLinaattoar
Atdhai vaNakkam seydhal vaeNdum.
While translated to English
Tamil’s mellifluous sounds
Must reach the world’s utmost bounds.
Translation too we must produce
From foreign classics for our use.
Our genuine greatness and skills and wisdom
The world will recognize and salute hands down.
But then translation is a fine art and science; competent persons for translation from one
language to other language/s are to be spotted, sufficient recognition given and motivated to pursue the art of translation. Translation is not simply finding the equivalent words. It is indeed trans- creation; the translator must get into the heart and soul of the original creator and come out with his version presenting the mind of the creator.
It has to be done through print and electronic media. From that angle, educational Institutions should make it a point and policy to prescribe the translated literature in the curriculum at all levels. As extracurricular studies, parents, social service organizations and schools must popularize translated arts and literature. It may not be too much to suggest literary competitions may be floated at many levels on translated literary pieces for all ages, educational standards, rural, urban groups and so on as the competitions have the motivating ability. I have equal charm and pleasure in creating the originals and also trans-creating the others!
Q11. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: By profession you were a deputy zonal manager of Life
Insurance Corporation of India. So how do you make up your mind to write poetry
altogether? Have your experience there helped you in writing?
N V Subbaraman: As explained in the top while saying something about myself, you will find an answer to this question too! It is not verse alone I write; I have also produced some good prose in Tamil and several articles in English.
Experience is the best Master and in any field helps a writer in his pursuit; I am not an exception.
Q12. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Why have you translated Tagore’s Gitanjali into Tamil?
Have you read the Bengali version of Gitanjali?
N V Subbaraman: Gitanjali of Rabindranath Tagore which won a Nobel for him, indeed, is an invaluable treasure for the humanity. I loved it right from my young days. When I had some time at my command post retirement, I ventured into full scale translation and I could fairly succeed and the translation has been received well by the learned.
Sorry I know no Bengali. Tagore himself has given his Gitanjali in English and my Tamil
translation is based on that version.
Q13. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Why have you translated the Japanese poet Daisaku Ikeda
from English to Tamil? Is it an attempt on your part to enrich the Tamil people about the
N V Subbaraman: I have answered in a detailed manner for the question number 10 above and that thought is the reason for translating Japanese Poet Dr. Daisaku Ikedas English poems into Tamil.
Here is a Women’s College in Chennai after Dr. Daisaku Ikeda’s Soka Gokai’s International and the Secretary of the college, a good friend of mine requested me to translate Dr. Ikeda’s poems into Tamil and I did it. He himself published and gave copies to all the students and staff more than a thousand in number. In the process you are right that Tamil people are enriched from the global writing.
Q14. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Your writing proves you as a postcolonial poet. Do you
agree with me? Does your poem characterize any particular trait?
N V Subbaraman: Physically yes present day poet; mind set may be colonial and post colonial! Reading a prose or verse must elevate the reader mentally, intellectually and spiritually with a positive and noble message. The writer owes it to himself and the society of readers. Any writing sans a message according to me is no writing at all.
Q15. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What is the theme of your ‘Universe-A Chariot on the
Move’? Have you added any flavor to this epic while translating?
N V Subbaraman: It is the story of the Universe- beautifully penned by my Tamil poet friend dealing with Mother Earth and sky, stars and planets. Sun and Moon, Space and air, water and fire- five natural elements on which all living beings – humans and animals, plants and trees thrive. Translation I have already referred to as trans-creation. Naturally flavors added!
Q16. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Do you think a poet as social reformer? What are the
contemporary social issues have you tried to show in your works?
N V Subbaraman: To certain extent any poet or writer has to be a social reformer! His readers must get a positive message for leading a better and more humane life and living. I don’t claim to be a social reformer but by the messages some may be made to be a better human being that helps for the formation of a better society.
Social issues I want to show are global warming, environmental protection, caring for nature, neighborhood cleanliness and so on.
Q17. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What are your future projects? Can your readers expect
any fiction from you?
N V Subbaraman: After spending three fourths of a century, it is not possible to take up any special projects as such! To continue with regular literary activities, it is deemed to be an achievement! May be compiling another anthology of my poems in English and Tamil,
continuing my Blog without a break are worth attempting.
No idea of creation of any fiction as of now.
Q18. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: What is the future of Indian English poetry according to you? Poetry and poets are now marginalized a bit as everyone is fascinated with fictions, plays and short stories. What can be the solution and suggestions on your part for improving the situation better?
N V Subbaraman: According to me, it is quite bright- as bright as it has been in the past! Poetry and poets have their own sterling role to play in the literary world. My confidence is born out of the responses I get for my YOUNG POET- an e journal.
In the last International Multilingual Poets Meet that I have referred to earlier, there was an invited Poet Delegate young 17 year old twelfth standard student of a local school in Chennai Miss S. Nivetha ho was an attraction of the senior poets and Madam Pankajam Iyengar, convener, said that future is bright for the poetry world. Her poem titled FRIENDSHIP-virtues and values was well received by all the delegates-content, form and presentation excellent.
Though Fictions, plays and short stories have their own value, poetry has its own charm and beauty.
Parents, schools and literary organizations have to encourage children from young age to
appreciate poetry and to try their hands on poetry writing.
Q19. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Are you aware of contemporary Indian English writing?
Who are your favorite Indian English writers whose work you want to read many a time?
N V Subbaraman: Yes in the course of my experience in the last few decades. There are too
many to point out a few!
Q20. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: How will you want to be remembered as a poet or as a
great translator and why? Where lies the ‘Indianness’ in your work?
N V Subbaraman: If I am worth remembering, society will remember me as a poet, writer and translator. As of now I am happy that I am recognized as such and being invited to participate in the Poets Meet and seminars.
A seventh class student was telling me on the other day that “Uncle, one day your poems also may find a place in our school text books”. I am quite content with my work at the present.
Probably you as a young research scholar may see how I am remembered in the future.
I am born, brought up, educated and living as an Indian!
My INDIANNESS is in all my thoughts, words and deeds!
Yet I am a universalist- a member of the VASUDEYVA KUTUMBAKAM- the entire world is
my home and people are my kith and kin as my Rig veda has taught me.
Q21. GOUTAM KARMAKAR: A lot of new poets are coming in this genre. What will be your advice to them? And what is your message for your readers and for the human beings?
N V Subbaraman: Your apprehension about future of poets and poetry is unfounded from this very question; yes “a lot of new poets are coming in this genre” They are the hopes of the future.
No advice from me but I venture to suggest that they take to poetry very seriously with all
possible interest and enthusiasm; read a lot of poets and their work, form their own theme in which their interest lies, try their hand in giving a poetic shape to their thoughts, if not satisfied let them correct several times, send for publication, if rejected let them not get frustrated or disappointed. Improve upon the same and write new ones. Let them create the habit of writing in a note book and not in sheets of individual papers that will not be kept safe.
Poetry may not get financial benefits but will give a broader vision of life and widen their
catholicity and gives a satisfaction that money and wealth cannot give.
Q22 GOUTAM KARMAKAR: Thank You for sharing your views before your readers.
N V Subbaraman: I am indeed very happy that I could interact with you in detail. I thank you for the nice opportunity provided. I wish you Godspeed in all your endeavors.
My dear viewers,
Today appears in the following link my article on a revolutionary Tamil national Poet Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathiyar,
This will be a serial in the e journal to come for a few more weeks. Kindly make your comment beneath the article itself where a space is provided.