with Mukund Gnanadesikan:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Mukund: I wrote my first poem when I was fourteen. It was about a man I saw walking every day on a bike path near our summer home. Twenty years later, I submitted it, and it was published.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Mukund: My biggest contemporary poetic influences include Jericho Brown, Louise Gluck, and Jane Hirschfeld. As for fiction, my tastes run to older influences (Dostoyevsky, Sinclair Lewis) but I also enjoy reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Mukund: I grew up in the New Jersey suburbs. It was your typical affluent white picket fence community, with an emphasis on the word “white.” I’d say that seeing the ignorance and arrogance of wealthy, nominally well-educated people informs some of my skeptical view of humankind.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your writing?
Mukund: I’ve been fortunate to travel to various locales. We spend a lot of my formative summers in Martha’s Vineyard, and memories of these times are a part of my poetry. Additionally, I’ve enjoyed visiting numerous other countries and the process of doing so helped me realize that there is so much we all could benefit from sitting down with people of other cultures and “breaking bread” in a meaningful way.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Mukund: When I was in sixth grade, my English teacher (a notoriously tough, imposing person) told me I had a knack for writing. She was also my teacher in eighth and tenth grades. When I showed her my first poem, and she was enthusiastic, I was encouraged further. For a while, I merged my passion for writing with my love of sports, and I toyed with the idea of becoming a sportswriter. But poetry was always the medium that resonated with me most.
Q6: What are your favorite activities to relax?
Mukund: When not writing, I like to go for slow jogs through the neighborhood or through nature. I also enjoy watching sports, cooking, and traveling with my wife.
Q7: Do you have any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
My full length fiction debut, Errors of Omission: A novel, was released in November by Adelaide Books. It’s also available on Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Kobo, and Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1953510582
I’m also currently working a new novel, entitled “Tracks”, and putting the finishing touches on my first poetry collection, which is currently an orphan looking for a loving home.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from one of your poems or others?
From "The Last Days of Tyranny": Let sentiment engrave in stone collective Will and Testament. Q9: Who has helped you most with writing? Mukund: I've attended a couple of writing conferences. At one, Peter Ho Davies was a direct mentor and he taught me a lot about what I was doing right and wrong. As often happens in the group process, my colleagues' feedback was also invaluable. With regard to poetry specifically, going to craft talks by Eavan Boland, Jane Hirschfeld, Ada Limon, and Matthew Zapruder helped me to recognize the breadth of possibility that exists under the umbrella of poetic expression. Recently I sought some feedback on my poetry collection from Brandi George, and her specific technical advice has helped immensely. https://www.scarletleafreview.com/poems33/mukund-gnanadesikan-poems 2 poems by Mukund Gnanadesikan from Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 https://adelaidemagazine.org/p_mgnanadesikan.html Bio: Mukund Gnanadesikan is a poet, novelist, and physician who lives in Northern California. His first novel, “Errors of Omission” was released in 2020. A sample of his recent poetry can be seen in Poetry Quarterly, Ginosko Review, and Remington Review.