Something amazing happend last February: one of our teachers, Mr. Creighton, published a book. When you hear the word ‘book’, you likely think of a story with chapters. However, Mr. Creighton’s new book, New Delhi Love Songs, is a collection of poems that connect together like pieces of an intricate puzzle to form one picture of life in New Delhi.
A month ago I sat with Mr.Creighton and interviewed him about New Delhi Love Songs. His answers shed light on his book and on what it means to be a published author.
What inspired you to publish ‘New Delhi Love Songs’? “Usually, when I write poetry, I write in order to express or explore an idea or feeling I find interesting. Publishing or performing is how artists and writers share our ideas with other people– it’s a way for us to be involved in the larger conversations that we sometimes call art or literature. I didn’t set out to write a book; for a long time, I was happy to read my poems at small events or to publish them in magazines or newspapers. But eventually, I felt like I had enough poems for a book. Putting together a book of poems lets you do things you can’t do when you write individual poems–a book allows you to explore more ideas, but it also lets you look at the way how different ideas talk to each other.”
How long did it take to write this book and how did you get so many amazing ideas? “It took a little more than ten years to write the poems in this book. I’m glad you thought some of the ideas in it were amazing. I think we all have amazing ideas. If we pay attention to the world we live in–it’s an amazing place!”
How did you feel when you completed compiling/writing ‘New Delhi Love Songs’? “I guess at first I felt satisfied. Then I felt a little worried that it would never find a home. But pretty quickly I realized what most writers realize; writing a book is cool, but it’s not the most important thing you’ll ever do in life.”
Who and what writing influenced your writing? “A lot of people influenced the book in interesting ways–friends, family, colleagues, students–the people I talk and think with. And I read a lot of poetry. A lot! So it’s tough to pick out a few who influenced my writing. But if I had to choose three right now, I’d choose William Carlos Williams, William Stafford and Arun Kolatkar.”
What was the hardest experience about writing New Delhi Love Songs? “That’s a difficult question. One of the feelings this book explores is grief. I’ve come to understand that grief is a stage of love, not something separate from it. But it’s a hard feeling to write about.”
What was the easiest thing about writing New Delhi Love Songs? “Like any other kind of art, writing poetry takes discipline and hard work. There’s a lot of hammering, sanding, and polishing involved. But some poems aren’t like that–they come to you like a song, almost fully formed. When that’s happening, it’s a great feeling.”
My favourite poem in the book is “Station” because it was really interesting and the vocabulary was great. What was your most favourite poem in your book? Why? “I’m so glad you liked ‘Station.’ It’s a ghazal, and I like it a lot myself. Ghazals, by the way, always take a lot of hammering, sanding and polishing, because ghazals have a specific form which you can break, but only with care and awareness. It’s hard to choose a favourite poem, but if I had to today, I’d choose ‘On the Bardapur Border.’ It explores a lot of the ideas the book is interested in. How can we find a language to understand, to map the city we all share? Where is home? Is there a kind of communion that can happen between friends?”
Do you plan to write another book? “Who can say? I’ve written dozens of poems since this book was published, but it will probably take years to find enough poems to make a book that feels like a book. Not every poem needs to be in a book!”
What will it be about? “The great thing about poetry is that you can write a lot of poems before you figure out the shape of the book they’ll eventually go in. I’ve written groups of poems about all kinds of things, from human evolution to the death of my grandfather and a million things in between. Which of these will fit into a book? I really can’t say. Not every poem needs to end up in a book!”
If at some point you feel like giving up, what inspires you to continue? “Actually, I have given up before. Poetry is nice, because you can always come back to it. I like working with words, I like the sanding and polishing. Even the hammering. And I like how it feels when you feel you’ve written a song that feels good in your mouth when you sing it.”
What advice did you get while writing New Delhi Love Songs? “Six or seven years ago, I was wondering if I was ready to publish a book. A poet I respect read my draft and told me it was good, but I could probably do better, that I probably should do better. He said I should be patient and wait until I had something that was really ready. I’m so glad I waited.”
What advice would you give to AES middle schoolers that want to be published? “In this order. Read a lot, write, and most importantly be patient.”
When I read the book, I was just amazed because I was not expecting to like poetry, but Mr. Creighton’s book was both interesting and made me like living in New Delhi more. After conducting the interview, I could not help but think of how much effort and organization you have to be to accomplish what Mr. Creighton and all other authors out there have done.
I personally would recommend this book to you because you get so into it that you want to continue and once you’re done reading it, you could ask Mr. Creighton some questions that may not have been asked yet.
Once you’ve read ‘New Delhi Love Songs’, comment down below on what you enjoyed the most.