CHENNAI: In Claus Ankersen’s world of poetry, much like his life, reality is magical. He is a Denmark-based traveller, artist, performer, and author of eight books of prose and poetry. His latest, Grab your heart and follow me, published by Poetrywala, is meant for the Indian readership. In an interview with CE, Claus tells us more about head-diving into the mysteries of the world, through this book of poetry.
When did you begin work on this book?
The process began around 2009, when I first visited India on a Sangam House writing fellowship. Almost instantly, I was completely blown away. And I was fortunate to be granted a second fellowship at Cholamandal Artists Village the following year, where I was also invited to perform at a Poetry with Prakriti event and the Delhi Arts Festival. That year, I wrote more poetry, as well as the year after. I have been working on this book since I first came to India in 2009. So I am very happy with this publication and grateful to my publisher, Poetrywala, for taking me on board.
Tell us about the book title.
The title is taken from the poem ‘Poets’. Basically, it is about movement, and venturing forth into the unknown, be it land, lore or love. As postmodern rishis, I feel this constant dynamic of dancing with the here-and-now is an integral part of the poetic endeavour. On a textual level, of course, it is an invitation for the reader to join in. An invitation to join the new free.
Help us draw a picture of the world in your poems where cat-gods rule, and babies have stargates for eyes.
The God, the ghost and the goblin are all as real as a modern high-rise or an Onion Rava Dosa. This is also one of the many reasons why I am so fond of India. The veil between the worlds is thinner here, for better and for worse.I reserve the right to be naive, childlike and curious, always looking for the hidden stuff between the lines. And what I find there, is magical, wondrous and alive.
It’s a world of wonder, eternally blooming, constantly becoming.
Could you tell us more about living in the ‘now’ and how it has helped you write?
A certain capacity for sensing the now is conductive to writing good poetry. For me it is an inclination rather than an effort, and I have to work pretty hard to escape it. If you ask me one of those ‘what are you doing in five years’ you’ll see my face turn completely blank. I have never had any clue about tomorrow. But I love this gift of being alive; because after all, there is only now. All else is maya.
How has travelling inspired your poetry?
Walking through a Manhattan book store while using a technique called ‘Derivé’ was a powerful experience, which I put down in Beneath The Skin. In the Cihangir neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey I saw what is rightfully called ‘The Cat Capital of The World’, and it was also quite mind-boggling. Witnessing a dance performance in ‘Spaces’ and becoming helplessly infatuated with a performing dancer, if only for a minute; and having fish-curry at the legendary Koshy’s in Bangalore and realising that I am largely a farmer posing as a nomad, was also inspirational. Basically, I have packed this book with esoteric secrets and keys to personal transformation without fully realising it. But now, when the book is here, I can see it.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
In May, I’m releasing a picaresque novel about writers. In fall, I will have two collaborative books out in Romania — one dealing with Tudor Arghezi, the other inspired by Pink Floyd. Then, I hope to finally put the last touch to a rather large memoir written here in India. It’s about Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, and the creation of a new yoga.
Claus Ankersen will be in conversation with Ranvir Shah, founder trustee, Prakriti Foundation, on March 31 from 5 pm, at Amdavadi, T Nagar. For details call: 7338733190