By Frank Watson
Fabiyas M V is a writer from Orumanayur village in Kerala, India. He is the author of Kanoli Kaleidoscope, published by Punkswritepoemspress, USA, Eternal Fragments, published by erbacce press, UK and Moonlight And Solitude, published by Raspberry Books, India. His fiction and poetry have appeared in several anthologies, magazines and journals. Western Australian University, British Council, Poetry Nook, Rosemont College, US, Forward Poetry, Off the Coast, Silver Blade, Pear Tree Press, Zimbell House Publishing LLC, Shooter, Nous, Structo, Encircle Publications, and Anima Poetry are some of his publishers. He won many international accolades including Merseyside at War Poetry Award from Liverpool University, U K, Poetry Soup International Award, USA and Animal Poetry Prize 2012 from RSPCA (Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelties against Animals, U K). He was the finalist for Global Poetry Prize 2015 by the United Poets Laureate International (UPLI), Vienna. His poems have been broadcast on the All India Radio.
How has your background of living in India but writing in English influenced your perspective, themes, technique, and technique?
Though I write in English, which is my second language, my themes and images are from rural India. Typical Indian themes in English attain a special charm.
Has traditional Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, or other traditions had any influence on your perspective? If it has been an influence, what are the differences you’ve experienced as you merge perspectives with the English poetic tradition and write in English?
Yes. My mother tongue Malayalam influences me when I write. Language and culture are interrelated. So, one issue in front of me is how to universalize a local theme for a foreign reader, who lives far away from my country and culture.
Many of your poems incorporate stories or legends from the area you live in. In what ways does your local environment and history inspire you or not inspire you as you write poetry?
To be successful as a writer, it’s better to write about what you know and experience closely. Then you can be true to the description and emotions. Hence I prefer my local environment and history, which inspire me very much.
How much of what you end up incorporating is fictional versus based on real events that you experienced? What are you trying to convey as you write your poems and stories or what are your artistic goals?
Certainly, I have penned many fictional verses based on real events I experienced. Some sad figures on the wayside of life haunt me greatly, losing my mind’s peace.
I find relief only after I have painted their portraits, for the world to see and ponder over their plight. I would also like to convey good moral values and philosophical insights to the humanity, wherever they are.
When did you start reading and writing poetry? What attracted you to it? Who are your favorite or most influential poets and genres? Do any non-English and non-Indian traditions influence you?
I started writing poetry when I was in seventh standard in school. But I don’t remember when I started reading poetry. Both natural and genetic inspirations attracted me to it. I like many English poets, especially William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, and Robert Frost. I always write free verse in literary genre. Both non-English and non-Indian traditions have influenced me.
I’ve seen that you also write fiction. What have you written and what themes do you explore in it? What are your literary goals? Are you involved in any other creative or literary arts?
I have written a few short stories. Almost all of them have been printed and published by different publishers in UK and US, especially by Pear Tree Press in US. I pick up rural Indian themes and present them through reality and fantasy.
My ambition is to become a great writer. Since most of my readers and publishers are in US, I expect some literary accolades from America. I am involved only in creating poetry and short fiction.
What’s the background of your recent winning entries, “Ghulam’s Ghazals,” “Paddling a Canoe,” and “Waiting in Vain?”
Ghulam Ali is a Pakistani Ghazal singer. As he visited Kerala to perform, there were strong protests against him, because he is from an enemy country. I penned the poem, ‘Ghulam’s Ghazals’ under these circumstances. Really music finds no religion, instead it promotes human values. ‘Paddling a Canoe’ discusses degradation in moral, cultural and social values through generations on the bank of Kanoli canal in Kerala. ‘Waiting in Vain’ is true life-sketches of an expatriate’s wife. Many husbands from Kerala work in the Middle East.
You published a poetry collection called Eternal Fragments. What brought about that collection? What are some of the major themes you explore?
Yes. My two poetry collections were published recently – ‘Kanoli Kaleidoscope’ by Punkswritepoemspress, US and ‘Eternal Fragments’ by erbacce press, UK. Major themes in these two books of poetry are life of the people living on the bank of Kanoli canal, which was built during the British rule in Kerala.
How do you decide on the form or shape of your poetry?
It naturally evolves in my mind in accordance with the theme.
What is your philosophy in writing poetry?
It’s shaped out of harsh realities of life.
What is your writing process? Do you set aside a block each day or write when the inspiration hits you? How important is revision to you versus capturing your first inspiration? Do you usually start your first draft on pen and paper or go directly to the computer?
As inspiration hits me, if I am free then, I take my pen and scribble in my diary. Sometimes, I write the last part first. Often I complete the first draft at one stretch. Of course there were instances I waited for a single apt line for many days. Revision is very important in composition. I do second draft on computer.
How do you see yourself developing going forward—poetically or otherwise? What publishing goals do you have?
I am glad to see that my poetic career progresses steadily and smoothly. Nearly hundred poems and ten short stories have been printed and reprinted in six countries by more than thirty publishers during the last two years. I could win a few international awards.
What advice do you have for beginning poets?
My new poet friends, write about what surrounds you, and do it honestly and exceptionally.