PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue Jen Schmitt on Ekphrasis Rachel Hadas on Text and Pandemic Kirsty Gunn Essaying two Jee Leong Koh Palinodes in the Voice of my Dead Father Maureen Mclane Correspondent Breeze
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This interview is taken from PN Review 213, Volume 40 Number 1, September - October 2013.

In Conversation with Sujata Bhatt Helen Tookey
helen tookey: From your first book onwards (Brunizem, 1988), you have built your mother tongue, Gujarati (and sometimes other Indian languages), into your otherwise English poems, so that although there's a persistent theme of exile and reminiscence, the poems are never merely nostalgic but always enact the kinds of betweenness and 'foreignness' you want to talk about. Did you start with a conscious decision to use Indian languages in this way in your writing? It also means that for readers or listeners who don't know those Indian languages, the poems take on visual and auditory dimensions beyond ordinary 'understanding'.

sujata bhatt: Yes, ideally I would like the non-Gujarati-speaking readers or listeners of such multilingual poems to experience the in-betweenness and 'foreignness' of what I experience. I would like those readers and listeners to accept the Indian languages in a positive way, as an experience beyond understanding, as you phrase it. It is not my intention to alienate or to exclude any of my readers or listeners. To some extent, what I am presenting in my work is indeed an enactment of my thought processes. These multilingual poems grew out of my desire to voice and share some of my deepest thought patterns.

I had started using Gujarati words and lines in some of my otherwise English poems and stories when I was a child, around eight, in India. I had learned English in New Orleans at the age of five, soon ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image