When you meet Fabiyas MV, an English teacher, who lives in Orumanayur village in Thrissur district, Kerala, you realise you have known verse. The respected American magazine Poetry Nook has just nominated his work for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. Fabiyas is proof that English poetry in India is seeing a resurgence: he has been extensively published in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Nepal, and has bagged a host of poetry awards, namely, the PoetrySoup International Award, the Merseyside at War Poetry Award from John Moores University, Liverpool, and the Animal Poetry Prize from the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelties against Animals.
Fabiyas was also a finalist for the Global Poetry Prize. In India, his poems have been broadcast on All India Radio. The Pushcart Prize nomination “stunned” the unassuming poet. Only creativity with social significance gets noticed as serious work; Fabiyas’s subjects include autism, insanity, death, monsoons, elephants, midnight dreams, thieves, liquor, pregnancy and illiteracy, all issues that affect Kerala and India. The poet’s biggest influence is his late father MV Alikutty, a well-known writer in Malayalam who published over 20 novels, travelogues and memoirs. “When I was a child, my father would tell me stories. I was in Class VII when I wrote my first poem. When I showed it to him, he was very happy. It was he who told me to continue writing,” says Fabiyas. The poet lives near the Canoli Canal, which was built by the British in 1848. “The canal serves as an inspiration, so do the people around me,” he says. However, in his village where literary awareness is low, many did not know his work until an article about him appeared in the local paper. Fabiyas is undeterred. “Outside India there are thousands who consider poetry as their lifeblood,” he says. Little wonder that this belief has resulted in over 200 poems.
Frank Watson, the editor of Poetry Nook, says, “Fabiyas displays a unique insight into the human condition, often told through stories of the afflicted or forgotten. His perspective opens the reader’s eyes to deeper ways of looking at the world.” Father of two teenage girls, whatever money he earns from his writing is used for the welfare of orphans. Roxana Nastase, editor-in-chief of Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada), says, “Although fantasy shimmers, the real world holds pain, blood and existential truths, and the pull of all of those is stronger than the dreamy quality of the imagination of Fabiyas.” His favourite poet? “William Wordsworth. I quite like Intimations of Immortality by him,” he says. Maybe that is why his own poem Chemical Weapon talks of mortality…
In a pesticide era.
Existence is in poison.
Peasants are persuaded.
Their minds are mulched
With chemical thoughts...