Thursday, August 07, 2008

Interview with a poet from Greece

“Poetry is a gift – Poets have blessing of God”

Zacharoula Gaitanaki was born in Athens on November
30th, 1966. She writes poems, articles, short stories,
essays and review of book.
She is a life member of the “World Academy of Arts and
Culture” / “World Congress of Poets” (which awarded her the title of the Honorary Doctor of Literature), of the IWA and a member of the “World Poets Society”.
Her poems, short stories and essays are in Anthologies, they have been
translated into English, French, Italian, Albanian, Bengali, Chinese, Korean and have won prizes in national and international literary competitions. She selected by “The International Poetry Translation and Research Centre” and the Journal of “The World Poets Quarterly” as one of “The International Best Translators 2005” and by the Literary Club “Xasteron” as “The Greek Translator of the Year 2007”.
She has published the books:
1.- “DISSIMILAR LANDSCAPES” (Poetry collection), Athens, 2001.
2.- “POTIS KATRAKIS, A PROLIFIC WRITER” (Essay), Athens 2003.
3.- “STATHIS GRIVAS – WRITING FOR LIFE - Tracking in his poetical space”
(Essay), editions “Platanos”, Athens, 2006.
e- mail:
You can visit her web sites:

1.What place do nature and God have in Zacharoula’s poetry?

Dear Patrick, thank you for the hospitality. We destroy the environment (the pollution, fires, wars, scarcity of water, smog, greenhouse effect etc.) We live in an unhealthy climate. We’ve spoilt everything with our behavior… So, the beauties of Nature, the nature of things, matters of general interest, legends and myths, God, love, the end of our life, are part of my poetry. Poets - with their voices - have to tell the Truth. Poets blaze a trail for a better world. I write in my poem:


Poets do not struggle
with bullets and knives,
they write verses, sing
and extend their hands.

They yield in inspiration
in the hours of loneliness,
they count with verses and strophes
fine weathers and storms.

Poets do not love
simply for love.
They write verses for naked bodies
before they touch them.

They are absorbed by love and swim
in love’s depths
and after, they write poems
for “the moment” that is lost…

2.Do poets write only for themselves and do give vent to their emotions and reflections or do they have a wider role in today’s society?

I believe that Poetry is a gift and the Poets have the blessing of God. But we have also a moral obligation: Poets like politicians must serve the public interest. We write not only for ourselves but for all the people.

3.Do you write poetry for art’s sake or are there other agendas behind your verses?

I write poems (short stories, novels, critic, essays too) for the creation, communication, happiness. Writing is great fun for me.

4.How do you react when people say that poets are idealists and dreamers?

“Poet isn’t a weird guy”. If he / she dreams of a new world, this isn’t a visionary dream. It’s a feasible objective.

5.Do you write poetry in Greek and then translate in English? Or do you write poetry directly in English?

I write my verses in Greek and then I translate them in English. My mother language has a rich vocabulary and I use it in my work.

6.When you write poetry do you prefer traditional and regular forms (prosody, metre, rhyme) or modern form such as blank verse?

I use “Poetry’s materials” (my poem):
“A well – dressed verse
with a red, full of freshness
and fragrance carnation on the lapel
pops out right
in the crown to dance.
Two strophes start a feast
on the white paper.
On top, an underlined title
assigns the intention of the poem.
Rhymes, words, “moments”
are valuable and invaluable
materials for a Poet
to make an emotion,
to pay off a debt
and to defeat a chimera.”

7.In your poetry you frequently write about poetry itself. You also write about yourself as a poet. Why? Does the poet depend on the readers’ judgment?
In my poetry I write about myself but I write also for you, for all the people. The readers are happy when they read a good poem or a nice story.

8.Personally I find that metaphor is a strong point in your poetry. How do you react to this? Can metaphor and sincerity / clarity of meaning go together?

Poetry is like our life. A poem with several verses is like an adventurous life or not? I think that my poetry is an extension of myself. Metaphor is a strong point and in my life. But clarity of expression is a great asset. I’ll continue with my life and poetry together…

9.Is poetry an act of love or an act of narcissism? What do people prefer today: poetry or soap – operas?

Poetry is an invaluable help in our days. Soap – operas are like artificial flowers in a garden. A flimsy life is without poetry, love, smile, colors, songs, joy…

10.How is Zacharoula as a person? How does she spend her time: career and pastimes?

I am a woman with a mild nature and a simple life. When I’m in Arcadia, I live near to the beauties of nature. I spend time with my family, my friends (poetry is a good friend for me too), my cats. Music is a good way to unwind. I hear classical and Greek folk music. Sometimes, I take refuge in books. I read many books every month and I write my opinion (in literary magazines and newspapers). I write poems, articles, essays, short stories, translations etc… (I have 22 years experience in poetry and prose). I think that “The real happiness consists in desiring little”.
Patrick, thanks again. I send my warm regards to all the visitors of your blog and to all the poets in Malta.

Arcadia, August, 6, 2008.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Getting to know a poet from India

This is another very interesting interview with a poet from India, D. T. Ashok Chakravarthy, Litt. D. A very big thanks to Dr. Chakravarthy for his patience and sincerity. See:

1. Is poetry something more than the expression of strong emotions?
Strong emotions are a common phenomenon in the lives of every individual. But the one who can express it through the pen, either in poetic or in prose form would definitely have a different angle and different edge. What I feel is, expression of emotions in the form of verse or poetry, certainly is something more than the force of oral expression of emotions that would have. The impact of expression of emotive verse or poetry can influence all sections of people in general. Hence, it is something more than what a simple ‘expression’ is.

2. How do you react to people saying that the poet is a dreamer or idealist?
We come across different people with different opinions, different concepts, different aspirations, different principles, different views, different thinkers, different criticizers, different admirers, different planners, different mindsets, different decision makers and so on. Since we happen to be one among such think-tank, it is but common to face different views from different people. Yet, what I feel is that NOT ONLY A POET, but every human is a dreamer and idealist. The moment a life originates on the earth, for certain, it’s a common phenomenon. There is no meaning hence in reacting to different or rather call them as indifferent views.

3. Do you prefer art for art's sake or art/poetry with a message?
Art is something different in the course of “preference”, while poetry too is something of a differential preference. Both have different values with preferential standards. A combination of both is bound to have a distinct impact. The concept of uniting art with poetry will unite all classes of people, irrespective of age, caste, creed, race and religion. Yes, I do prefer poetry with artistic reflections of the theme, which I feel will definitely pave way to enlighten the children and youth in particular. Peace-poems and harmonious-art if jointly presented together, the face of humanity will be adorned with the glow of Universal Peace.

4. "Mother", "brother", "children', "child" are words that repeat themselves in your poetry. Does this mean that FAMILY has a central role for T. Ashok?
Ashok or any other Poet (I wish) should NOT compare the words "Mother", "brother", "children', "child" as individual. The whole universe should be viewed as a family by any poet. The warmth of motherly-love oozes out of heart when we remember our “Mother”, similarly the Mother Earth follows our sentiments and emotions with the same spirit; for we are here with their love, which is beyond compare. Brother reflects a youthful stamina that stands for Universal Brotherhood, Children reflect the whole-lot …. orphans, deprived ones, school children, starving children etc., and a child is a part and parcel among the universal children.

5. You seem to discuss the same issues politicians discuss (war, injustice famine, the environment). Do you think poets can do better than politicians to better the human condition in this world? How?
Politicians are ever-thirsty to grab power, position, luxuries and treasures. This ego-centric tendency is the grass root problem of the existing system. In this unethical process, morals and human ethics are dumped for the sake of individuality and individual status. We see how several countries are vying for supremacy in the sphere of acquiring modern weaponry and hi-tech gadgets. If the trend is not arrested, this unhealthy competition would ultimately ruin the mankind.
Yes, poets have the ability and astuteness to do better than the present-day politicians and this is absolutely possible in every continent of the world. Every poet has a vision of the future, of the present depleting standards of human lives, of the ways and means to check further downfall of humanity as a whole. A poet is thoughtful, emotive and can go deep into the problems grappling and shaking one and all around the world. Poets do possess the abilities to enlighten, educate and impart the youth about the prevailing social evils and the dire need of their youthful spirit for participation in bringing peace and harmonious existence. Politicians lack this will and determination and they treat youth merely as their vote-banks. Hence, in the existing scenario POETS are a better lot, who can definitely script and shape a better generation by uniting the youth and positively implanting the seeds of universal peace. By tapping and enhancing the magnanimous power of youth, anything is possible in this world. And, this is far easier to poets than the ego-centric politicians.

6. God is present in your verse. How can Poetry and God be reconciled?
Without the existence of God - in the form of five (life-giving) elements, viz., water, air, fire, earth & sky there can neither be the mankind nor any living being, or any planet. It is God, the creator, who with a divine sport controls the five elements and He is the Supreme Master of the stable, unstable, living and non-living things. And to be frank, every religion believes in God and admires the God with sacred prayers / hymns (poetry alike) in praise of God; so, God exists in all the believers and I am one of the poet-believer in God.

7. You seem to give more importance to regularity of form (prosody, rhyme, metre) in your poetry. Does this mean that you prefer traditional forms to express yourself?
Yes, it is my choicest of choices to attract and immerse the reader/s and to take the reader/s deep into the heart-touching meaningful depths. Hence, with exception to some, I prefer the form of rhyme for most of my poems, for I am sure, this pleases both the mind and heart of a reader.

8. You express hope in the future generations. How can these do better if today's generations can't serve as a good model?
This is a wise and a well judged question of the present times. “Today’s youth is tomorrow’s future”, thus goes the golden saying. But, the hurdle in the process is, the youth are made scapegoats and victims in the vicious political gamble. This is inflicted well in advance before the youth could attain political maturity. Yet, given a right platform and a right opportunity, if the youth are made to cultivate political maturity on their own, definitely would there be a sea-change in the world political scenario. As civilized citizens, we are duty bound to throw our weight of maturity for a good cause in shaping the youth for the betterment of future generations.

9. What is the relation of the young generation with poetry? Do they read poetry?
I think, only a little fraction, or say less than 5% of the young generation either show interest towards poetry or attempt to hog the limelight in the literary arena. But, in this hi-tech era people are busy in their own way, preferring to attain the ever-high standards of living. Once matured, their thoughts fly in the direction of prosperity and circumstances compel them to take initiatives for achieving their goal. In the process, the relation of the young generation with the poetry is getting strained.

10. How is Dr. T Ashok Chakravarthy as a person? What does he do during a common day? Describe in brief Hyderabad City?
As a person, I am a person of – SIMPLE LIVING AND HIGH THINKING. My routine starts by waking-up at 6.00 AM, having a cup of lemon-tea, going through the newspapers and TV channels for over an hour, again have a cup of green-tea, have a bath and offer prayers at home, afterwards a breakfast, then relax for a while, getting ready for office and advancing to work place. After working all through the office hours (10.20 AM to 5.30 PM) at the “Andhra Pradesh State Cooperative Bank Ltd.” (a Government-Partnered Bank), I would be back home by 6.30 PM. Myself and my wife would spend a hour-together with a cup of ginger tea, later I would either meet friends or relatives or attend to computer work for answering e-mails, submission of poems etc. I would have my dinner at 9.00, relax by watching various TV channels for an hour and slip to sleep by 10.00 in the night.
It is appropriate to mention here that, two Sunday’s of each month are exclusively spent in the company of orphans, blind children and at old-age homes. My wife :– Yeleswarapu Srivani :– would look after the entire affairs. During our visit to orphans, blind children and old-age homes, we donate medicines, food grains, biscuits, vegetables, fruits, clothes, note books and other items of utility as per requirement and urgency. Some of my wife’s relatives and friends, apart from a few of my colleagues offer their material help in the services.
Regarding my native place Hyderabad, it is the 5th largest city of India, a prominent IT hub and a city having several important monuments dating back to 15th century. Charminar, Golkonda Fort, Quli Qutubshahi Tombs etc, are prominent, historical and tourist worthy places. Hyderabad is also familiar for its cosmopolitan culture and is also crowned as a “Pearl City” of the world. With a best South-Asian international airport, renowned 5-star hotels, international firms and establishments, international sports stadiums, Hyderabad city with a population of over 8 million is considered as the fastest growing city of India.