Arun Sagar has published two books of poems, Anamnesia (Poetrywala, 2013) and A Long Walk in Sunlight (Copper Coin, 2020). He lives in Sonipat and teaches law. Excerpts:
What is your writing schedule?
I don’t have a schedule. I write whenever the urge comes. However, the urge does not come very often, so of late I have realised that it’s good to make a conscious effort to write, and not just wait until I happen to feel like it.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
It exhausts me. If a writing session actually results in a completed poem, it is a satisfied exhaustion; otherwise, a frustrated one.
Writing advice you’d like to give your younger self?
We all have multiple younger selves; I’d like to say different things to different ones. To one I’d say: “Stop wasting your time and write!”. To another I’d say: “Art is just one thing in the world, not the only thing, and not even the most important thing. And the lived life is not just raw material for poetry.”
What are your favourite books?
There are so many ways one could attempt to answer this, or pretend to answer it while not really accepting the challenge. There are books I am reading right now; books I’ve liked recently; books that have held me in their grip for years and have become part of me; books of poetry, fiction, philosophy.
I think any answer would be either too general or too intimate, and none would do justice to all the books I’d like to mention under one category or another. And so, I won’t offer an answer, but I will say that the question is a fun one to think about, a guilty pleasure.
Literary success vs number of copies sold?
Well, for poetry the number of copies sold is not something to be concerned about! And different people may conceive of literary success differently-how is one to define it, much less quantify it?
I think awards and prizes are meaningless (perhaps this is because I have never won any). In a different world, one might have hoped for literary success to include the possibility of earning a living from your art, but that is unimaginable for a poet in India writing in English. So, what do I think 'literary success is'?
Some amount of recognition from serious readers of poetry (who are often poets themselves) is certainly important. And to be able to reach those readers, publication is important –books, not solely in literary journals. And to receive a note from a stranger saying they were deeply moved by something you have written – what better success can there be than that?
Favourite spot/s you write at?
I very rarely write in a public place. The writing happens at home: on paper, on the screen, in bed, at a desk, on a couch, somewhere, anywhere.