The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Sanjeev Sethi

PHOTO SELF(7)Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

It’s a need. My expression to a large extent is poetry. I see it as an extension of myself. I seek it in most settings. Poems are my response to stimuli. They help make sense of my situation. I wrestle for nuance by wrenching words and woes. Some poems dip into my emotional deposits, others document the demotic. The attempt is to arrest a moment of truth in a tasteful manner. In short, poetry is about my engagement with existence.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?
Bloomsbury published my third book of poems, This Summer and That Summer, in October 2015. The aim, as with any book of poetry is to share with readers slices of one’s life, colored and curated with poetic liberties in the hope it adds to their life. If not as elevated then one aspires to open a window within the perusers that triggers a thought process or at least get them to smile as they connect with an idea or emotion.

Describe your writing aesthetic.
I’m intense and monominded. When I’m inditing it is me and my poem. Everything else is secondary. I key my lines, no pen and paper for me. The computer has helped me to organize myself. If this is showboating so be it. I’m no techno-fiend. In fact, I’m the opposite. I’m technology challenged. Even to change a bulb I need help. Well almost.

Who are your favorite authors?
I’ve no favorites. I just read and read. A line here, an idea there, a beginning somewhere, a turn of phrase, a full poem sometimes, many poems by another. I keep flitting and flirting. I’m not a loyalist. I’m a slave of the poetic form, not of individuals who create it.

What’s the most challenging piece of writing you’ve attempted? Tell us why.
I will like to reframe the question by changing the tense. For me challenge is always in the next one, next poem or piece. Hindsight makes it painless.

This SummerWhat’s your idea of bliss?
The sense of completion I experience after ending the first serious draft of a poem. This is because it’s often said: poems are never finished, only abandoned.

What makes you angry, and I mean all-out-smash-the-china raving mad?
My expression of anger isn’t inflamed but I know what you wish to ask: when taken for granted, when I see the ugly face of arrogance. Disrespect to others, to books, uncivil and uncouth tenue.

What books would you take with you on a three-month retreat in the boondocks?
No books, installments from memory are the best books one can ever read. Isolation gives it impetus. I will go with my daybook, a bunch of sling pens and a positive frame of mind.

Your house is burning down. What’s the most important thing you’d want to take with you?
As I live alone I don’t have to bother about others. My credit card, telephone diary, and God. If He is with me I need no one else.

Describe your life philosophy. In a sentence.
To find one’s centre in all circumstances and all circumferences.


The recently released, This Summer and That Summer, (Bloomsbury) is Sanjeev Sethi’s third book of poems. His work includes well-received volumes, Nine Summers Later and Suddenly For Someone. He has, at various phases of his career, written for newspapers, magazines, and journals. He has produced radio and television programs.

His poems have found a home in The London Magazine, The Fortnightly Review, Ink Sweat and Tears, Allegro Poetry Magazine, The Galway Review, The Open Mouse, Otoliths, Solstice Literary Magazine, Off the Coast Literary Journal, Hamilton Stone Review, Literary Orphans, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, The Peregrine Muse, Café Dissensus Everyday, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Section 8 Magazine, Futures Trading Anthology Three, River Poets Journal, Pyrokinection, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Jawline Review, and elsewhere. Poems are forthcoming in Meniscus, Amaryllis Poetry, Futures Trading, First Literary Review-East, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Drunk Monkeys, Harbinger Asylum and Linden Avenue Literary Journal. He lives in Mumbai, India.

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