Interview with Jayant Kashyap
Rappahannock Review Poetry Editors: We’re drawn to the deeply personal nature of “Artefacts” and “Glass Ghazal,” which incorporate themes of love and loss and are both dedicated to Anshika Sarin. Could you tell us how this person inspired these poems?
Jayant Kashyap: Anshika graduated earlier this year from the same college that I hope to be graduating from next year. During the first three years of my college, she ended up becoming the primary reader of most of my poems—I’d share drafts and we’d discuss ideas regarding changes and everything else, and in doing so, we’d often end up having conversations about things that’d find a place in my poems later. There are quite a few other poems too which are dedicated to her as a result. Plus, “Artefacts” was written when I visited the city Anshika’s from in July this year. It’s a nice place, full of ghats. A recommended visit, for sure!
RR: We love the inclusion of spirituality in both of your poems. Do your own spiritual beliefs influence how you write about loss?
JK: Thank you! They do, yes! I’m some sort of an atheist with very many scientific questions but the irony is also that I’m from a culture where gods are GODS! I grew up enjoying stories of their greatness but also with time, I believe I began finding answers for myself. I love the idea of Christmas and I’ve read bits of both the Qur’an and the Bible, and often the characters and the forms of belief I admire show up in my poems. Being born a Hindu, however, I found it quite natural to be more interested in the Greek, the Roman and the Scandinavian Gods, and they make for brilliant metaphors. Of course, they’re brilliant at their jobs too!
RR: The ghazal is such a wonderful, challenging form; can you tell us why you chose this form for “Glass Ghazal”?
JK: Ghazals have sharp and gritty texture but also have a kind of musicality, which makes them unique. I first came across ghazals (as songs) as a child but, as poems, I was introduced to ghazals in 2016—Agha Shahid Ali’s “Tonight” by a friend from his hometown (Kashmir)—and fell in love with the form right away. Every now and then, I work on some poems that may find the constraint of this form benefitting to its structure. “Glass Ghazal” ended up becoming a personal favorite.
RR: We love the epistolary form of “Artefacts.” Have you ever sent a poem to someone through the mail?
JK: Thank you! I have, through email, physical mail, and WhatsApp too. It’s lovely!
RR: We understand from your website that you’ve worked as a ghostwriter. How do you approach that kind of writing and has it changed the way you think about voice in your own work?
JK: It has, yes! Helps me imagine myself as a third person and also, sometimes, as no one, which in turn has sometimes helped free the poems of the “I” and, at other times, to make them into logs of historical events without particular bias, if nothing else.
Jayant Kashyap’s work appears in Issue 10.1 here: