Interview with Wani Nazir: Perveiz Ali

Wani Nazir
Biography: A Kashmir University Gold medallist in English Literature, Wani Nazir from Pulwama J&K India is presently teaching English at Senior Secondary School Level in the Department of Education J&K. He writes poetry and prose in Urdu, Kashmiri and English. His poetry and prose has been published in a slew of National and International journals of repute. He is the author of a collection of poetry, "... And the Silence Whispered".

Q 01) Hello, Nazir Wani; Before posing my queries can you tell us about your late adolescence life and what incidents you feel acted as impetus to set your journey as poet?

Answer: Honestly speaking, I have been, from the days of my late adolescence, nurturing an appetite for poetry, secretly and with diffidence, always scary, like a babe, how to take the first step. I waited and waited for my muse that would puff strength into my tremulous hand and make me shape my wayward thoughts and stray feelings into the versical compositions.  Years rolled by but no inspiration, no pat of encouragement, buffeted me from any source until the modern day menaces, Facebook and WhatsApp, turned into vogue in the part of world I dwell in; they blessed me with a platform where inspiration poured in profusely, like a water from some perennial source into your kitchen.  These apps served as Mount Helicon, inhabited by innumerable muses and sources of inspiration, in my case.


Parveiz Ali
Q 02)  Each time I hear the word 'silence' reminds me the title of your wonderful debut poetic musings, '…and the silence whispered'. In one of the reviews in daily Greater Kashmir you have been described as "poet of the ear not of the eye".  What is that to you and how do you maintain thoughts and ideas of your poems?

Answer: The word ‘silence’ employed by me in the title of the book should not be mistaken for silence as it is understood in its common parlance. It is not the silence that reels over the world when night drops in. It is the silence of the hearts throbbing with pain and pangs; silence that is heard only by the listeners when they dive into the sea of words.Thereis music in silence - the music that pervades the cosmos, and in order to listen to such music of silence, one must have,in the Wordsworthian phrase‘a heart that watches and receives’ the still sad music of humanity.
It is not about the rhythmic flow of words that constitute my poetry but the amalgamation of emotions and thoughts. I try to wrestle withthe words that come from the heights of happiness or from the depths of sorrow,and enable them to speak for themselves.


Q 3) What is poetry according to you and why have you selected poetry as your medium of expression and why it is not a novel or any other genre?

Answer: At times, we feel we know what a thing or a concept is, but when it comes to define it, we are in a queer quandary. This holds true for defining poetry as well. Well, poetry is a process of bringing into being, a yearning for immortality, an endeavor to break free of the shackles of the finite to reach out to the infinite.

See,most of the readers including my own friends,often insist me to write in prose. It is not that I don’t write prose. It is just that I prefer the vehicle of poetry to ferry my feelings and thoughts. What you reveal through poetry can't be revealed through prose because poetry being the metaphorical language smeared with symbols and images can be a vehicle, a medium to translate experiences in the minimum possible words. I have selected poetry because it is an apt device to trap the emotions and the feelings brewing deep down my bosom, and it frees them like the prisoners who are acquitted of their charges unexpectedly.


Q 4) In your view, which among the two is less strenuous and least demanding: poetry or prose?

Answer: In response to this question, I am reminded of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s contention that ‘prose is the words in their best order; poetry - the best words in their best order.’ I do not treat prose in a poor light. But I agree with Shelley that ‘poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. It touches your soul in a way that nothing else can.’


Q 05)  Do you think, an extra burden of responsibility/obligation falls upon a writer which he/she has not before entering the realm of writing?

Answer: This is an important question.Earnest Hemingway has put it so poignantly that ‘there is nothing to writing. All you do is sitdown at a typewriter and bleed.’ With writing comes a great responsibility. A writer should write to operate upon the common follies and foibles. Writing is, in the words of Wordsworth, ‘to fill your paper with the breathing of your heart.’ A writer has to forge in the smithy of his soul the uncreated conscience of his race, and the task is as onerous as the blacksmith’s task of bending the red hot iron in his smithy to make something of value for human race.


Q 06) Living in Kashmir- a conflict zone, is loomed under the clouds of uncertainty. Should a poet/ writer from the land of such uncertainty write just to satisfy his/her sensibility or portray the ramifications this conflict entails?

Answer: I already revealed the purpose of writing. A writer must portray the circumstances that are creating deep confusion and anarchy in the society he dwells in. A poet residing where conflict reigns must sketch the flaws, barbarity, atrocities as objectively as possible by employing conceits, metaphors, symbols and other poetic devices and should whip the oppressors by the verses the way Alexander Pope whose verses were like boiling water that fell over the very skin of the corrupt politicians in the Augustan period in England. When a writer sees blood spilling in every nook and cranny, day in and day out, breathes in the air that itself is so suffocating, when the swords of fear and uncertainty keep impending on his fellow beings, he has to exorcise the ghost harbouring his bosom lest it should gulp him down.


Q 07) In which ways or how will you differentiate the contemporary poets like you from older generation of Kashmiri poets writing in English?

Answer: I strongly adhere to what Harold Bloom calls inter-textuality in his book, “The Anxiety of Influence”. For me, my every poem is bedeviled by its precursors in the whole tradition. So the older generation of English writing Kashmiri poets, of them Agha Shahid being a very strong voice, crushes upon with the weight of their poetic tradition on my way of writing as well. I am a lot impressed and influenced by way of Agha Shahid’s diction, style, march of words and trove of images. It is true that he is a poet in front of whose writing I as well as my contemporary poets stand nowhere. But I believe that there are many contemporary poets of English in Kashmir whose poetry replete with stunning imagery, breathtaking metaphors and resistance themes sweep the readers entirely off their feet, that augers well for the future of English poetry in the valley.


Q 08) What are the unique poetic features that distinguish Nazir Wani from other contemporary poets?  And how far has your birth in Kashmir shaped your writing?

Answer: Well! Every poet has his own locution and way of writing. Meter varies, diction varies, and phraseology varies. Some prefer free verse; others light verse or other formats. I write mostly in free verse. Most of my contemporaries write better than me. I have been following some brilliant writers like you, Shabir Ahmad Mir, Mushtaque Barq, Khwaja Musadiq, Badee Uz Zaman,  Khan Tawfeeq, Imtiyaz Assad  among others on Facebook, who I must confess write wonderful poetry.

Living and having been brought up in Kashmir has sensitized me and other writers equally. I like all other Kashmiris have been witnessing scads of gory and spine-chilling incidents in the seemingly never-ending conflict-ridden Valley. The words like crackdown, cross firing, torture, CASO, machine guns, Kalashnikov, extrajudicial killings, pellets and a slew of some earlier unknown ugly words crept into my very vocabulary and diction. Being a poet at heart, I feel my chest heavy, my heart tossing against my rib cage, watching the oppression being unleashed terribly on my conflict-ridden land. My ink is sure to turn crimson when it spills onto the paper.


Q 09) What will be your advice to the emerging poets?

Answer: For the emerging poets I would like to reiterate the glorious words of Hemingway that ‘we are all apprentices in craft where no one ever becomes a master.’ My advice to them is: ‘Fill your paper with the breathing of your heart.”

Q 10) In a line or two, who do you think Nazir Wani is?

Answer: Wani Nazir is a weaver ‘demurely holding the invisible pen/ weaving stories in invisible ink.’

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