The day I decided to meet poet Williamsji Maveli, I knew I was going to meet someone like me. Someone who understands poetry. I was not wrong, I met a man who fights his own set of demons.A man who made friends with words to forget pain. On this friendship day, I dedicate this interview to all who convert pain into poetry.
Who is Williamsji Maveli? a poet, an art enthusiast, an NRI returnee or a man reborn after a life altering situation?
Williamsji: “The answer is what you said the last. I strongly feel that I am reborn after a set of life altering situations in life. Forget whether I am a poet, a gulf returnee or an aged person. I am now living my second birth. This new birth gave me opportunities to enhance my own thoughts on life, love and everything around me.”
Can you briefly let us know what altered your perspectives on life?
Williamsji: “I had to face situations where I was taken to hospital with deep pain and agony on 2016 Aug 3rd. It started off as a heavy pain in both the limbs. I was later under the treatment of doctors of Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore. Approximately if you ask, I have spent 465 painful days on the hospital bed. And almost 35 days in Intensive care unit. Thrice I had to face death.
In one of the near death experiences I had to face, I felt like I am moving towards some other area like a bird. I cannot explain what it is though. Of all the 8 surgeries I had, many involved risk situations.Indeed 4 hospitals, 8 surgeries and 465 days; renewed me as a person. It gave me a different outlook towards life. The new me has totally dedicated my life to writing until the end of this life.”
What is poetry according to you?
Williamsji: “It is a very common question asked to a poet. William Wordsworth once said, “ Poetry is a spontaneous outflow of emotions”. But I opine, “ Poetry is pain”. I feel that, if a person is facing a difficult situation in life, they tend to be more creative. A person leading a luxurious life can rarely be poetic. From my perspective, real poetry is created from physical pain. Writing during such times helps dilute the pain. I am not saying happiness and other positive situations may not lead to poetry, but the emotional depth in them will be minimal. The poetry converted from sorrow or pain is on a different level altogether.”
The poet also added, “I am a writer since 1965. My dad put me in an English Medium School in my hometown because he wanted me to pick up the language. There is this funny incident I remember.I scribbled a poetry about the beauty of a woman during one of the mathematics classes. The headmaster seeing me writing the poetry, rushed into the class. I was mocked and scolded. From that day I decided I will excel in poetry and continue it as long as I am able to. I often used to get beaten up by my father for writing poetry. He held a view that I should write about Jesus Christ because I am a Roman Catholic. So expect a few in my life nobody recognized my poetic interest. My college professor and notable poet K. Satchidanandan is one among the few who constantly encouraged me. Also, I occasionally used to write at my work place Etisalat during my U.A.E days. But trust me, my poems had no real depth until I started having real pain filled days.”
How many books have you published in total?
Williamsji: “I published my first collection of poetry titled , ‘Offerings To Love’ in 1973 and it costed rupee 1. I purchased my own shirt and pants for the first time by selling my book. That whole night of my first book launch day. I spent at the venue having happy thoughts. The very next day I got beatings from my parents for not informing them about my book getting launched and for not going home the previous night. From ‘Offerings to Love’ to ‘S.O.U.L.S’ (Spirituality of Unknown Luminaries), I have 5 published books. Even at Christ College, Irinjalakuda where I pursued my higher studies, we didn’t have a literature faculty. My dad put me in Christ college because I am a Roman Catholic though my interest was to take literature and study in a college run by Hindu management. I am still against this idea. I am an Indian over anybody else.”
What is your writing schedule like and how do you promote your books?
Williamsji: “Between 5 to 7 am in the morning, I scribble the poetic lines. While I was admitted in hospital, I used to write with the help of a mobile phone. Even during the daytime, I keep getting thoughts; which I jot down later. I have around 300 quotes which you can read in my upcoming book A.B.O.D.E.”
The poet further on his writing, “I am not particular about people reading my book. I write it for my own satisfaction. And even if others interpret my poetry in a different way, I really don’t bother. But still I post my poems on social media pages. There is a reason for this. The days when I was denied of a pen or a paper because of my health issues, I had to become a pal with modern technology. Slowly I started having my own poetry groups, amazing literary friends and people with creative ideas. All my groups are for poetry. I wanted to help people who love writing come up in their lives because I was denied the right to write many a times in my life. There are many administrators to these poetry groups and I am sure even after my death, these groups will run. Social media can actually put into good use.”
India Poetry Forums. Talk about it
Williamsji: “I am totally confused by the classifications like Hindi Poetry, Arabic Poetry, Malayalam Poetry and so on. So I came up with the social media platform ‘India Poetry Forums’ focusing on Indian Poetry as a whole. Then later on I came up with the idea of having ‘Whorled Wide Writers’, a social media forum encouraging World Wide Writers. Around 3000 literary souls are part of my group and I glad that the momentum is on.”
Literary figures that Influenced you
Williamsji: “Writer and poet. K. Satchidanandan, I consider him as a role model. Because he taught me how to write poetry based on deep emotions. Also late A. Ayyappan, he truly inspires me. In poetry there are many female candidates who are truly talented. So there is no dearth of talent. And the fact is that most of them had gone through some deep pain or a loss. So the idea is to convert pain into art. The art will definitely remain. Pen, phrases and art is a kind of relief.”
I will ask you 7 phrases and you have to reply in one sentence
Books: I write books.
Women: I respect Women.
Family: Family is essential for peace and harmony.
Love: Love needs to be experienced.
Poetry: Poetry is painful.
The World: The world is moving towards happiness, peace and prosperity.
Hope: If there is no hope, I would not have spoken to you at all.
Hope is taking off to high altitude.
Williams: Williams is great and loyal.
Which is your next project?
Williamsji: “My next book is A.B.O.D.E, 95% work is over. Waiting for my illustrator to work on the project. It contains 300 poems. And I hope people would read the poems included in A.B.O.D.E and encourage me as usual. A.B.O.D.E talks about a soul’s journey. The rest is surprise.”
Thank you! So much for inspiring all the young poets. This interview will remain incomplete without you reciting a few lines for the readers.
Williamsji: OK Sure. Here is my poetic gift to all the readers.
BODY IS A DEBRIS
I am now soulless body, a debris,
The heavy storm of blood clot floats,
Dark Clouds gather around, no fear,
My sky sings songs of ethereal pain.
Brightness means drops of outer rays,
Darkness, the in-depth inner mind ways,
All hot days, cold nights never to embrace,
Misty clouds, red stars: all His own grace.
A salvation for my both limbs essential,
My prayer flares once, then fades away,
A dread grows as the angry hands of hell
Fails to kiss against my naked soul
This wounds me, and so my blood drips.
Hope you enjoyed this interview with poet Williamsji Maveli.
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