Narayanan Raghunathan hails from Kerala, India. His field of research includes Infinity, Cosmoses, Eternity and Silences. He has Published two books of Philosophical Aphorisms "Kalki ~ The Last Coming", "Scrap Bits From the Notebooks of A Lunatic", A book On the Foundations Of Set Theory: "The Solitary Infinity, Obituary To Transfinity" and "Infinite Algorithms For Infinite Transcendental Numbers". "Infinite Rhythmic Continued Fractions" will be published soon .A book of Haiku poems "Infinite Flame Silences" is ready for distribution. "Apocalyptic Rapture" is another Haiku book which he has coauthored with Amanda Cazalet. A book Of Haiku "Haiku Rtams ~ The Brahman Way" is an anthology where the authors' Haiku are presented.
R.A Please tell us about your entry into the Poetry Field and also in particular into the Haiku?
N.R I remember having written Malayalam keertanams to the Deities When I was eight years old. I remember one about the fearsome aspect of Kali! But I really started writing English poetry around 1971-72 when I was a student studying Physics in University College, Thiruvananthapuram.
I have misplaced and lost most of the poems I wrote those days! A few poems of late 1970’s are there in my collection. I never had much desire to publish. Actually, I am surprised to know that so many journals exist for poetry publication.
I read haiku in translations around 1980. I wrote imagist poetry inspired by haiku for a while. Finally I wrote a haiku in 1987 in Malayalam. But I actively started writing haiku in August 2001 and STILL published my first haiku.
R.A What other poetries do your write and also give some brief introduction about the other research activities you have been doing?!
N.R I have written and published two books of philosophical aphorisms.
I have discovered a vast corpus of mathematics especially in Transcendental Numbers and Continued Fractions.
My music and Mantras revealed to me are also partially recorded here.
R.A How do you aphorize haiku in your own words?
N.R Brahman ~ Haiku is Art, Ritual and Seeking. Haiku Is Dhyaana of every moment of Cosmic Perception. Zen is truly its secret and mystery. But now every Language aspires towards its Haiku Canons and Seasonal Rituals and novel verbal syntactic and etymological arrangements. English Haiku has come to stay and nurture in its own various soils and seasons. Every Haiku attempts to be a vast Cosmic Moment of Perception encompassed into its essence. Let's bow before the many Buddhas and the many great Haijin before who walked the Great Human Way!
Haiku is a child's way of pointing out the intense wonder of a delicate universal moment experienced ~ Zen is "baby-seeing" ~ Haiku is "baby-writing" by adults who refuse to grow up or become babies [at least occasionally] again in their perception ~ The innocence of baby writing is pre-thought, post all thought too ~ Paraphrasing what Dr. S Radhakrishnan said about Hinduism, I may say that "Zen is not a religion but a way of life" ~ Zen Is The Pathless Path Leading Into MahaaNibbana [ Mahaa Nirvana or Satori [ Samadhi ] in The Infinite Mandalas of The Great Bodhisattvas ~” Haiku are the wonderful sights on the Way one shares with Another One on the Way" ~ [ Only A tiny percentage of practicing Zen Buddhists write Haiku and now many who write hybrid-haiku in languages other than Japanese and Japanese too are far from being Zen Buddhists even in distant spirit !!! ]
R.A Kindly give some insight about Wonder Haiku Worlds? How can an aspiring Haiku poet get benefitted from it and an accomplished poet contributes to it?
N.R Haiku though originally revealed to the Japanese and cast into the cadent hieroglyphs of Japanese language is now a Universal genre. Haiku must have be written in over 100 languages of the earth, as a rough estimate.
Wonder Haiku Worlds is a Haiku site for All Haiku Lovers in all languages, residing anywhere in this world. It hopes to provide an universal multilingual Platform for Haiku poets writing in the various languages of the earth. We also provide A Universal Multilingual Platform for other related Genres like Senryu, Tanka, Haibun, Haiga, Sedoka [ All Japanese Origin ], Sijo [ Korean Origin ], Cinquain [ English ], and a "General short- verse unclassified forum" for general poets. Initially we are obliged to use Latin script for all the languages. Later we hope to have the possibility of every individual script [with Latin script transliterations]
We hope to become as poly-lingual as possible. In order to make this possible we hope to form a panel of expert Honorary Translators who write Haiku and who are interested in this venture. Here people who are multi-lingual and can translate Haiku from one language to another are encouraged to do so at their own discretion, the Haiku of their choice by various authors. The member who posts articles or poems can opt for Translation / No translation ~
Thus, later one may be able to read the same Haiku in twenty different languages if we find enough co-operations in this venture. In due course we intend to turn on audio too and one may even have the possibility to hear poly-lingual versions of each Haiku.
Clearly Haiku is a wonderful Gift of Japanese Language and People. Surely the haiku spirit is slowly blossoming in various languages, English leading every other language in this cosmic venture. English language has become a very convenient and useful medium of communication for people writing Haiku in All The Different Languages of the earth.
We hope that our site will provide a convenient archive to store every member's contribution individually and easily accessible to all readers. We also hope to provide an easily navigable site, where the various genres like haiku, senryu, haiga, haibun etc. can all be posted from the same home page.
We are surely aware that haiku is truly Japanese. But we also recognize that this hybrid haiku in other languages has come to stay on the earth. Holding firm to the Japanese roots, we hope to bloom anew in this venture. We hope to publish a written magazine devoted to Haiku and related genres, at the earliest.
We have published our first anthology Spams of Light and all our contributors have received a free copy. All the poems and articles published here on this site are implicitly submitted, to be considered for publication in the next anthology proposed to be published in 2013.
If selected for publication, the members will be informed and their written permission sought formally. This is our tentative beginning in this global venture.
R.A Who are your favorites poets in Haiku and other genres?
N.R My Guru and favourite poet is Sri Aurobindo. I am fundamentally indebted to him.
I am fond of Wiliiam Blake, Borges. I like other poets too ~ too many to be listed. In Haiku, I especially like Issa, Shiki and Kyoshi.
R.A What are the new projects on your anvil right now?
N.R Three of my books of Philosophical Aphorisms are getting published by this month end in new editions. They are 1) Kalki The Last Coming ~ 2) Scrap bits from the notebooks of a lunatic ~ 3) Final Revelations
Three collections of poetry [not Haiku] are also getting published soon.
A collection of my short stories “A blade of grass and other stories” is also getting published soon.
“Infinite Cosmoses of Infinite Algorithms of Infinite Transcendental Numbers” is going for a second edition.
R.A What is your advice for the aspiring poets?
N.R vincit omnia veritas ~ Truth finally triumphs. ~ satyameva jayate
Read as many Haiku as possible and as slowly as possible ~ Reading Haiku well and intimately is a pre-requisite to write Haiku naturally.
It is a grand fatality a cosmic fatality that has drawn you to Haiku to read it with care and also write it with care too. Effortlessness is the key. Let your feelings find a way with a minimum effort to form a haiku. Become free and empty and look at the world around you perceive it with all the senses. Be simple again and wonder at it all this vast cosmic projection around you.
Forget all your burdens and simply be truthful to the moment around you inside you. Don't be overtly poetic if it is not a necessity in a haiku and could even be distracting from the feel of the Haiku. But still poetry is not an error in haiku surely, because Haiku is also another type of poetry. Your best haiku will surprise you. Write the essentials first. Edit later.
Some times a Haiku comes well formed. Sometimes, one will have to chisel them into more order and perfection. These deeds become more spontaneous as one practices the genre. Check on the Haiku that impress you and discover carefully what makes them shine. Haiku gently shows there is no need to dazzle, yet things naturally dazzle.
Every good Haiku has an element of surprise in its discovery. The surprise causes the delight in many cases. Be bold and get the feel of the genre and take your way.
Read the classical Japanese Masters Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki etc. in various translations. Note the differences and various stylistic and aesthetic devices.
Read about Zen Buddhism and surely re-cognize its subtle presence in almost all classical haiku. "The Way of Zen" by Alan Wats and "Zen Flesh Zen Bones" by Paul Reps may be useful introductions. The former has a good bibliography too.
Read Haiku in English by modern writers and also in other languages if available.
Haiku is A Way of seeing too. The Haiku will come to you and note it down.
If you have friends who know something about Zen and Haiku, share your Haiku with them and ask for suggestions if you are not sure. If you have more than one alternative for a haiku share and discuss the possibilities with a friend. This can be really useful in making the best choice. Once you start writing it will become very natural and you will be surprised too.
You will naturally choose your niche of Haiku expression and give Haiku itself a new perspective and dimension. Genre of Haiku and its impossible definition grows with each Haiku. Haiku is getting defined in your attempt of it too friend. There are neither really perfect Haiku nor imperfect Haiku. Sometimes I see indifferent Haiku perhaps.
Carry a small haiku note-book and of course a pen too. This will make you regret less for missing a possible Haiku moment! [I still don't do it always!]
Best Wishes to grow in Haiku!
R.A It is a great pleasure interviewing you. All the best for your forthcoming publications and thanks for making this interview happen in between your busy literary schedule.