There is a certain kind of magical feeling about creating something from scratch, be it a book, a piece of art or even starting a business. It consumes your mind and spirit fully until you are able to give some shape to that fire that burns deep inside of you. You channel your energy towards building something new, not worried so much about the outcome but enjoying the journey totally engrossed in the process. I went through a similar crest of emotions, shaping my debut book, ‘Years Spent’. It has just been released to warm applause and I couldn’t be more excited, experiencing the culmination of my love to share poetry with the readers and to be able to touch someone with the power of words.
At this point, I think it would be opportune to provide some context about my background. I was a typical studious kid growing up in India and like any middle-class kid, I had an aspiration to go to top schools/colleges and then make a future in the ‘land of opportunity. With a healthy dose of luck and chutzpah, I was able to fulfill both of these wishes. As I joined the booming IT industry in a business development role, I soon found myself on a plane to Chicago and within a few months, landed in the Silicon Valley, the tech haven.
The business role took me to various parts of the US and I was fortunate to see most of its larger cities within the first few years. The whirlwind of travel and work didn’t leave time for anything more. And, I found myself eating unhealthy, and I wasn’t proud of my mid-section pout, or shall I say, ‘the bulge’.
I decided to make a change and joined a gym. I gradually took to uphill hiking and swimming, and soon found myself in long-distance running events and triathlons. This further led me to learn and deeply experience adventure sports including skydiving, rock climbing, scuba diving, skiing, motorcycle, horse riding, and so on. These physical activities challenged me to learn new skills and they have been rejuvenating for the soul to an extent that it has found utterances in this book especially in the sections on ‘Life and exploration’ and ‘Adventure and Freedom’.
The accompanying mindset growth and the zeal to ‘get it done’ have widened my worldview. As I wrote in one of my poems:
“Niggling fear or the raging fire,
Whom should I choose?
I choose fear,
feels my life beginning to shrink.
I choose fire
I expand beyond my proportion. “
I am fascinated with adventure sports and I like poetry. While adventure sports push us out of our comfort zone and enable us to experience the euphoria that lies just beyond the limits of fear, poetry helps us to explore and experience the world in a more vivid way.
After returning from a motorcycle trip, I wrote down these lines which took the shape of uplifting poetry eventually:
“Have you felt the fire lately,
burning deep inside of you?
Raring to engulf, the enthralls
Of your heart, beating deep inside of you.”
The book Years Spent captures this spirit of adventure and exploration, as well as themes of love, loss, and redemption that many of us go through as a seeker on this journey of life. In addition, a few poems also capture the theme of migration from our birth country and the associated emotions that we, the diaspora community wrestle with, at times:
Across the Border –
“The child is a grown man now,
after leaving the shores of the Indian ocean
he has been trying to go home,
for all his American life.”
I’d like to conclude by answering the question, “Why read poetry?” I am constantly reminded of Keating’s character in Dead Poet’s Society who exhorts, “..that powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse, what will your verse be?” I feel while a story speaks to your mind, poetry speaks to both your mind and soul.
Glad to let you know that the book will be featured at the upcoming New Delhi World Book Fair 2022, in Pragati Maidan. I share more about this book and the journey in my Medium blog.
If you are interested in purchasing the book, it is available on Amazon.
Lalit Kumar likes to write both poetry and prose around the broad theme of adventure and exploration. His articles and poetry have been published in U.S.-based India Currents magazine, The Financial Express, and multiple online forums. He is an IIT (ISM Dhanbad) & IIM graduate and works in a business development role in the Technology sector. Currently, he resides in San Francisco Bay Area, USA. He can be reached on Medium, Twitter: @lalitk08 or Instagram: @lalitk06.