Tuesday, June 1, 2021





JUNE 2021

APRILIA ZANK: According to the American poet Robert Frost, “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Can, in your opinion, all thoughts be 'translated' into words?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY:  I was a very logos centred or word-oriented person till my son came along who has autism. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God kind of artist, very literature based. Reading and writing was the big thing. But after looking at how he related to the world which is more in terms of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell rather than the three r’s and imagining his inscape and seeing his kind of operative mode and creativity and artistry text has become for me only a part of a larger picture to be honest and, though still my favourite part of it, due to my background in the Word, no longer any more important than other features like sound. To put it in a nutshell thought are to me predated by experiences that are probably more holistically sensory and expressing them through multimedia and hypermedia have become increasingly important for me and the present world. The growth of the internet too has ensured this as we now think more in terms of sound bytes, videos, memes, gifs, emojis, etc;, with language being only a part of the whole. So, to sum up, Frost, no, things have changed. 



APRILIA ZANK: The English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once wrote: “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.” Can you explain how poetry unveils the hidden beauty of the world?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY:  This goes back to Coleridge wanting to make the strange familiar and Wordsworth wanting to make the familiar strange, in the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads and vice versa, with both wanting to do both to signal the shift to Romanticism, but Shelley is also talking of something more, about not only beauty but truth, according to me, that for most men these things are hidden and poets help us to  see them clearly, for the first time or as if for the first time. When we describe the beauty of a woman we love we reveal her beauty that is inner and hidden to the reader for example when we are poets in our poems. Same with truth that brings about a development in the awareness of people to increase their social conscience about causes by putting before them truths they may not have been aware of before in an aesthetically fitting way. Shelley’s own poems on Manchester and revolutionary ones and anarchy, and his Ode to the Skylark and his Ozymandias are examples that reveal to us both hidden beauties and truths and make the familiar strange and the strange unfamiliar.



APRILIA ZANK: The American poet of English origin W. H. Auden was convinced that, “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” Do you think that poetic language should always be refined and cultivated, or may it also be rough and raw if necessary?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: A poet is in love with language and for him every word and nuance of it matters. Every poet knows instinctively and intuitively that no word is bad in itself but it is thinking that makes it so, to misquote Shakespeare. A poet can use refined, civilized and cultured language where it fits and rough and raw or ready language where that fits. In Sanskrit aesthetics there is a word that can be translated as appropriateness which is auchithya, or as we say in Malayalam “uchitham” and this matters a lot to me, this concept. Sometimes we get somewhere in art by breaking rules too and it is the same in language as we are on a creative quest but if lucky or sensitive our handling of language will be accepted and appropriate either in the present or in the future and this is where we strike the balance.



APRILIA ZANK: Please consider the following statement of the English scholar and poet A. E. Housman: “Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.” Do you write or prefer explicit poetry with an obvious meaning or message, or rather more cryptic, challenging poetry?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: I am one of the widest poets I have known with a breadth that is all encompassing so I write both explicit poetry and cryptic challenging poetry. It comes down to what comes out as a first draft often for me but there is one matter in which I completely agree with A E Housman and that is that we have to leave half the work to the reader in terms of form, meaning, content and everything else or the poem fails as we need to draw in the reader as a co-creator. I would thus expand on what he says to include other parameters and not just meaning.



APRILIA ZANK: “Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.”, is a famous quote by the German romanticist and philosopher Novalis. To what extent can poetry have a therapeutic effect?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: Poetry is a two-edged sword. It definitely has therapeutic effects on those who write it and especially on women and children and it has therapeutic effects on those who read it too but it can also be used to cause wounds on those who sometimes deserve it and this part of it interests me too. Poetry is an untamed beast and can sometimes heal but also cause wounds even on those it should not as once written and released a half of its reception is in its perception. Here poets have to take care to be more on the side of the Force and not the Dark Side, to put it in Stars Wars terms. (laughs) Poetry should be a light saber, in other words, and in the hands of Jedis who have not sold out in today’s world, to expand on this pop culture reference.



APRILIA ZANK: According to Salvatore Quasimodo, an Italian poet and literary critic, “Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.” Is, in your opinion, the poet primarily a personal voice, or rather the echo of his fellow beings?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY:  Both, I speak myself in poetry and not just for myself, it is the flesh become word to invert scripture and unless it finds an echo in my readers who say you speak me or for me it fails. Poetry has to be an extension of oneself where the other melts into one too or it cannot be poetry that will outlast time or find much spread in geographical terms to other languages.



APRILIA ZANK: The American literary critic M. H. Abrams asserted that, “If you read quickly to get through a poem to what it means, you have missed the body of the poem.” Do you also think readers need to be educated as to how to go through a poem? If 'yes', in which way?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY:  For a deeper understanding of a poem’s aesthetics readers have to be educated about figures of speech, titling, musical devices, and imagery as well as forms, genres, structures and analysis or comparison or contrast etc., as poems are not just about themes or layers of meanings but “body” as MH Abrams puts it so beautifully and to make love to that body one needs to get hold of it properly first.



APRILIA ZANK: Let us now consider the words of the American songwriter and poet Jim Morisson: “If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.” Can you please tell us how poetry can be/become educational?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: It is strange that you should club the word educational with Jim Morrison as his point, I think, was to set people from the limits of education as it was practiced in his time, through the art of music, lyrics, poetry and performance. Morrison knew what Gardner speaks of, that there are many intelligences and not just literary or linguistic ones or mathematical ones, left overs of Greek philosophical subjects in schooling that were reduced to these three as primary, and his aim is to make poetry also reflect that times have changed and should take in technology and the past not limited just to Graeco Roman or Judaeo Christian frameworks but including others ones too like American Indian ones. He does this in his own lyrics to try to expand the frame.



APRILIA ZANK: The British-American poet T. S. Eliot claimed that, “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” Do you sometimes/often experience 'love at first sight' for poems that you have not understood immediately/completely?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY:  Oh, yes! Poems have a lot of depth and to get the meanings one has to read them several times, but to love them one has to read them only once. They communicate to the neural synapses before anything else being a very sensory medium. I remember this reaction on reading Rilke and Rimbaud for instance and more recently RS Thomas, WS Merwin, and some others. As I get older some names escape me but the poems don’t.  



APRILIA ZANK: Paul Valéry, a French poet, essayist, and philosopher, said: “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” Do you also think that the final 'embodiment' of a poem happens in the mind of the reader?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: I agree fully with Paul Valéry as in my own experience being a poet whenever I return to a poem after weeks or months or sometimes years I see I could have written it better and make changes to it. There seems to be no final satisfactory version, even if sometimes the change is just a word. However, as they reader does not know of this and the care poets take over their works, at least ones like me influenced by fastidious poets like Valéry feel some of my poems are perfect and need no change. I rarely feel that way about any of my poems. Maybe one can a about a couplet or a four liner or five liner, at most.


APRILIA ZANK: The famous British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie believes that, “A poet's work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.” Should, in your opinion, poetry have a strong social and/or militant component?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: I need to point back to my earlier answer of calling poetry a light saber here. In today’s world no poet can be apolitical or not take stances or fight for things he believes in, or call out bogus stuff and keep to wanting to be secure and safe. This is my unabashed position. I fully agree with him. I am, for instance, against fascism, against minorities being persecuted, for autism, against caste discrimination, for preserving what is good about Christ’s influence in the world etc. And all these things if opposed I have to point out that I cannot just stand and watch but have to take sides.



APRILIA ZANK: The poetic credo of the highly influential American poet Maya Angelou was the following: “The poetry you read has been written for you, each of you - black, white, Hispanic, man, woman, gay, straight.” Do you also think that your poetry addresses a large and varied audience?


AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: I have written thousands of poems and my poetry definitely addresses a large and varied audience, including all who know English, all who are Indians or Asians, all who are human beings and all who are against the idea that they are human beings to as there are post human and anti-human strands too in my poetry so I really don’t know anyone my poetry leaves out. It may address people in different ways but all may find themselves and their consciences questioned in it as well as find me appreciative of their arts, cultures, and other such valuable things. I feel this is how we can approximate to universality in our times and in all my poetry books like FIGS, or Allusions to Simplicity or Birds of Different Feathers or Wine-Kissed Poems which is a collaboration with Jagari Mukherjee or Vodka by the Volga which is another collaboration with Santosh Bakaya I have tried to go beyond parochialism to being universal and mostly succeeded, or so I feel.

AMPAT VARGHESE KOSHY: Dr. Koshy A.V. is presently working as an Assistant Professor in the English Department of Jazan University, Saudi Arabia. He has many books, degrees, diplomas, certificates, prizes, and awards to his credit and also, besides teaching, is an editor, anthology maker, poet, critic and writer of fiction. He runs an autism NPO with his wife, Anna Gabriel. Two of his co-authored books published in 2020 were Amazon best-sellers in India and USA, namely, Wine-kissed Poems with Jagari Mukherjee and Vodka by the Volga with Santosh Bakaya.


Dr. APRILIA ZANK is an educationist, freelance lecturer for Creative Writing and Translation Theory, as well as a multilingual poet, translator, editor from Munich, Germany and an Author of the Poetry book BAREFOOT TO ARCADIA. Born in Romania, she studied English and French Literature and Linguistics at the University of Bucharest, and then moved to Munich, Germany where she received her PhD degree in Literature and Psycholinguistics for her thesis, THE WORD IN THE WORD Literary Text Reception and Linguistic Relativity, from the Ludwig Maximilian University, where she started her teaching career. The research for her PhD thesis was done in collaboration with six universities from Europe, and as a visiting lecturer at Alberta University of Edmonton, Canada. Dr Aprilia writes verses in English and German, French and Romanian and was awarded a distinction at the “Vera Piller” Poetry Contest in Zurich. Her poetry collection, TERMINUS ARCADIA, was 2nd Place Winner at the Twowolvz Press Poetry Chapbook Contest 2013. In 2018, she was awarded the title “Dr. Aprilia Zank – Germany Beat Poet Laureate”, by the National Beat Poetry Foundation (USA). She has been an acclaimed guest at cultural events in Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Turkey, Singapore and Romania, where she read her poems, delivered lectures on various topics. Her poems and articles are published in many ezines and Anthologies of different countries.




  1. A most scintillating conversation! Enjoyed it so much. Congratulations to Dr Aprilia Zank and Dr Ampat Koshy!

  2. Such a wonderful, stimulating interview. Riveting!

  3. Such a wonderful, stimulating interview. Riveting