Interview 31- Mihir Vatsa
Mihir Vatsa is a poet and writer from Jharkhand, India. He is the winner of the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, a Toto Funds the Arts Award in Writing, and the Charles Wallace Fellowship at University of Stirling, UK. Mihir’s interest lies in the connections among landscape, literature, and writing, and his documentation work on his hometown Hazaribagh is a case study at Durham University’s heritage management programme. After a full-length and a chapbook of poetry, Mihir’s upcoming publication is a travel memoir on Hazaribagh from Speaking Tiger Books. Mihir presently lives in Dumka where he teaches English Literature at Santal Parganas College.
Q- How did your commitment to Hazaribagh begin? You had started a newsletter in 2017.
It goes much before 2017. I started travelling within Hazaribagh – district first, plateau later – in 2010. I was a student at Delhi University at the time and that distance pretty much transformed Hazaribagh from a physical town to a mental space. Before the newsletter, there was a large Facebook group. I had to discontinue it after the group outgrew its purpose. Before the group, there was a blog. Before the blog, there was a school project on Hazaribagh that I had made much earlier in school. The newsletter isn’t dead – it will be active again once I am able to spend more time in Hazaribagh, whenever that happens.
This commitment has several forms of realisation too. While travel remains an important narrative tool, there is more to me and Hazaribagh than good-looking places. I talk about Hazaribagh whenever and wherever I get a platform for it, my poems are heavily inspired from the plateau, I have worked with the district administration too on their projects. I give an annual talk at Durham University’s Archaeology Department on Hazaribagh’s heritage. I do impromptu surveys in villages I go to, speak at gram sabhas, hold nature walks, write status updates on social media. What I am trying to say is that Hazaribagh and I are more than literary. There is an intimacy built in between us which makes committing easy.
Read the full interview here.
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