Interview with Kunal Narayan Uniyal
Introduction to the Poet:
12 years at sea inspired Kunal to come up with his first book kuch khwaab sagar se, launched in 2014 by the honorable speaker of the legislative assembly. He was called to France for the literary meet and discuss his works and was felicitated there by “house of life”, a literary society and rotary club, nantes. It was decided by the society to translate his work into French. He was felicitated by the nautical institute, London for his book and nominated for sailors today award 2014 in exemplary personal achievement category.
Alok Mishra: Dear Kunal, it’s an honour to have this discussion about poetry with you – a person of diverse personality as you write in Hindi as well in English. How do you see poetry? How do you see Kavita? Please share your views.
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: First of all, I would like to thank Ashvamegh for giving me this opportunity to interact with your wide and literate readers. Pleasure is all mine in sharing my thoughts with you.
Poetry, I would say is the simplest and the shortest medium to convey wide idea to the world. You don’t need too many words, you don’t need too many expressions; all you need is an expressive heart to say what a novel of 300 pages cant convey and which poetry in its 10 lines express. This world was formed out of poetry, all our ancient scriptures are in poetic form, shlokas, mantras which we recite almost every day. Vedas are poetry and what can be a better explanation of poetry than great Bhagwad Gita, poetry recitation on yoga of life in the battlefield. Thus poetry is everywhere, in each form and shape: all we need is to explore it and then merge with the divine.
Alok Mishra: Kuchh Khwab Sagar se is your very first book. How did you get the inspiration to write this book? What did you write as the first poem for the book? Do you remember some lines?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: “Kuch khwaab sagar se” my best and my debut poetry collection. You would be surprised if I tell you that it was my work and experience from life of 20 years. I started writing poetry from my childhood days and I used it as a means of expressing myself to everyone. I was always poet in my heart and often my poems used to find place in school’s magazine. But I never knew that 20 years later, I would actually be proud author of a book. The poetry collection in kuch khwaab is all about how I saw life, people around me, nature behaving and life turning with different phases entering and exiting my life. With lots of poem in my hand I never knew what to do with them when one fine day, one good publisher immortal publication decided to get it published as they believed that this is a very new form of poetry and will surely be liked by people around. And so it happened. I never expected people to like my poetry so beautifully as I started getting fan mails and lots of appreciation and here I am now with so much love and felicitation under my belt.
The book is published by immortal doon publications who have many other beautiful collection of books under their belt.Preface of the book is written by famous novelist Mr Gurudeep Khurana while the poems are edited by famous film critic Mr Manmohan Chaddha.There are total 27 poems which deals with different aspects and emotions in human life and after.While poems like “Mere Humdum”, Ëk Prem Tumse Kiya”, “Meri Ek Kahani Thi”are romantic in their true sense,poems like “Ma”, “Janani” and “Himani”is about a bond between mother and child. “Samay Ka Pahiya”, “Brahmaprakash” and “Kya Hai Sach Jeevan Ka” will force you to find true meaning of your presence while the most appreciated poem “Yudh Kar”inspired from Bhagwad Gita will revive that hidden warrior in you.All the poems are vernacular and readers will relate them with each poems individually.Grab a copy,sit in a shack on a sea shore and you will surely enjoy all the poems.
My first poem, I actually don’t remember but yes, among my favourite one and my most popular poem is Yudh Kar, where lord Krishna in the battlefield is motivating Arjun to fight the battle of life
अधर्मियो के सीने में, तू धर्म का मुकाम धर
विषिप्त मंद बुद्ध में, ज्ञान का उजार कर
निशब्द रात काली में, प्रकाश का उजाल कर
तू मर्द है, तू शान है, तू सिद्धि का उगाह है
युद्ध कर, युद्ध कर
विकट राह ग्रस्त में, विजय का तू पातक धर
अमर होने की चाह में, तू मौत से दो चार कर
गिरे हुए को तू माफ कर, तू जीत का वो नाम बन
थमी हुई है राह में, चपलता का संचार कर
युद्ध कर, तू युद्ध कर
Alok Mishra: You have been a working professional since 18. How did you manage your creative writing parallel to the responsibilities of the work?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: That’s right. I joined shipping at the age of 18 with a capacity of deck cadet and had been sailing since then. My work was never a burden for me: in fact it enriched my creative side by adding an adventure to it. Going round the globe, meeting various people, interacting with them, knowing their life, surrounded by cyclones, sometimes by pirates, all of it formed part of my poetry and it helped in getting and knowing nature more closely and with little more human touch. I believe it was these experiences and poems written in middle of ocean that provided these poems more realism and honesty which made people love them and relate to them so closely. My poems were never limited to just one idea or just one thought process or one style, it is like an ever expanding universe where each one can find a poetry for their own themselves. It was meant for all and thus went to all.
Alok Mishra: Do you remember the feeling when you were called for the literary meet in France? How was it?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: At first I couldn’t believe that my poems have gone such a long way and had touched French heart, that too with my debut book. I was greeted and welcomed so warmly there and treated more like a Guru, than a poet where people would gather to hear me reciting my poetry and then understand the hidden meaning behind them. Travelling to around 10 cities in 15 days was just what anyone would want and to be associated with such literate geniuses was truly phenomenal. Then felicitation by “House of life” and “Rotary club” was cherry on the cake.
Alok Mishra: Now coming to broader issues of literature, how do you feel today, being a poet? Is the world ready to know you, to read you, to interpret you? Or you also feel, like many other poets feel, the world is looking for some short-term sources of entertainment rather than reading a book of poetry?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: This world is composed of us. Will take you the way you want them to accept you. You want to be known as a poet, so will be and if by a sailor, will definitely be the case. It not about how they know you but more about how much you know the world. I always say, I was born human, lived sailor, will die poet. There are people with all sort of mental awareness and the consciousness which led me to write poetry is surely being possessed by many individuals. They will truly and are understanding me. I often get fan mails, book reviews and it feels great when someone relates to the poem so well. That is the beauty of poetry, it is open to interpretation and has thousand meanings hidden, pick what you want. As I have said before, poetry always was and always will be. World emerged out of poetry and one day will melt into one. Ones, who do not understand today, will understand tomorrow but will definitely understand one day.
Short term entertainment will give you short term peace while a long one will lead you to divine infinite heaven. So it’s us to select, an easy or an ardent path.
Alok Mishra: How do you compare the writings in Hindi and writings in English? Which language you prefer and why?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: I love writing in both the languages and as you can see my books are published and lined up for publication in both forms of expression. I believe it always strikes from above. If it falls in English, I grab it and if in Hindi, so be it. My main motive is to keep writing and expressing life in whichever way it deems simple to me.
But yes if you ask me in which language I am comfortable in interacting and discussing, that surely would be my mother tongue since it is and will always be close to my heart. I am like a river with Hindi, free flowing and endless.
Alok Mishra: Please tell the readers of Ashvamegh something about your latest book Unanswered. Also, you can recite one or two verse that you remember often from the book.
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: Unanswered, I know it is quite an unusual kind of title for a book of poems barring a few articles. Before I say anything more about my book, I would like to say something about myself and my thought process. Born and brought up in Dehradun, I have always shared a close affinity with nature. I used to love, I still do, watching nature and ponder how it can be loving and cruel at the same time. I grew up with my thoughts and took to sailing, a job were I fit in perfectly. My roving mind now had more to ponder about. Often have I stood alone on the deck of my ship, feeling the vibrations of a surging ocean underneath and watching the sky change its colours and mood without any indication. At times, I have been frightened…. bewildered… mesmerized…all at once. I respect nature in all its aspects…it’s benevolence… it’s fury…it’s colours… it’s stillness…its suddenness…it’s unpredictability…everything!
Then I look at us…I mean we humans…we are the most superior…the most intelligent…the most progressive of all living creatures and yet the most miserable of all living creatures so long as we are shrouded in false ego and ignorance. Nature has its laws fixed and does not discriminate. It is we who draw what we call bad luck. I quote Cassius from Julius Ceaser” fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings…”All that is required is an insight into ourselves and faith in divine providence. Here lies the crux of my book ‘unanswered’.
Unanswered is all about finding the answers which lay deeply hidden in the core of our hearts but we fail to discover it as we are covered with fog of ego and desires. Unanswered is all about revealing those answers.
Articulative cum poetic novel is based on life as question and answers. Each poem is supported by an article explaining the poem and reason behind writing same.
So much of questions in me which in turn coming from this mortal world led me to find answers for same and giving solace in this painful world. Why is there pain and sufferings, why do we die, what is morality, how can we become immortals are among those many questions which one will find answers to in my book in a very very simplified form. If my writing can bring peace into someone’s life that would solve the purpose for which book was written.
“From where it came, there shall it go”
All of the poems are very close to my heart but if asked to recite one, I would say
He who rides on rising waves
With a broken compass
In search of dry land
Will find the shores of delight
Circles will lead straight
To the hidden den of light
Lying under the spell of darkness
Waiting to break into radiance
Alok Mishra: In an article that featured you, you talked about good poets and their personality. If I quote you, ‘good poet cannot be a bad person’. Please elaborate it. Before you answer, people have their assumptions about the personality of Shakespeare who was undoubtedly the best English poet. How you see this dilemma?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: Ha ha. Good question. I don’t know about Shakespeare as have never met him and sadly never interacted with him. But yes, I know me and from my experiences and development, book by book, I have seen myself changing, growing, being more sensitive and getting closer to beings. I feel that I am voice for one who can’t speak, I am words for those who can’t express, feelings for those who want to feel but are unable to do so: I am a universal being now. And it is all because of poetry or maybe you can say my spiritual approach towards whatever I see or feel. I see me in all the beings, living or dead and therefore can express even a rock as beautifully as I can do that to a beautiful living damsel. All these traits have undoubtedly turned me into a better person and based on these facts only I say “Good poet cannot be a bad person”
Alok Mishra: How can we restore the poetry to its proper place once again? What do you think the poet-fraternity should do? Where do we lack?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: Poetry is so great and so universal that it is not us but poetry that shows us our right place. It will come to only those who are legible enough to receive it. It’s a consciousness which is always transmitting and travelling in the air; all you need is to close your eyes and grab the passing wave of it and form it part of your life.
Agnir Hota Kavitratuh Satyas Citrasravastamah
Who Does the Work Of The Seer, the True, the Rich In Varied
Light of Inspiration.
– Rig Veda
And yes regarding the poet fraternity, they should give landing hands to aspiring poets. Try to share their experiences with them, craft them but don’t divulge their thought process as their own. Each individual has his own identity and his way of writing, so let it be. Old should always give way to new rather than blocking their progress and demeaning them that what they write is not good enough to be read.
Alok Mishra: Do you have any books coming in future? Please tell our readers about those.
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: I have one Hindi poetry book “Main hoon kya, kuch nahi”lined up, Then one English poetry book “Sparrow in the mirror”, one fiction novel “Journey to the next level” and one translation in Spanish lined up. So a very busy year ahead for my books.
Alok Mishra: What is your message to the aspirant poets?
Kunal Narayan Uniyal: Keep writing, good or bad, just keep writing. I always say that you are a born poet, can’t be made one. Yes, of course, you can be crafted and shaped but not taught to write poetry. It comes from within and you are certainly born with it. So if you are writing this means you already are a poet. Let world decide how good or bad it is, that you leave on almighty. You just write from your pure heart and trust me, the world will love it. World truly needs a poet to make it a better place to live.