Writer Interview: Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi

When and why did you first start writing?

I don’t remember the exact time or age, but love of poetry came early. I was a lonely child and extremely sensitive. I recall the joy of reading poetry … whenever in my little mind I could make sense of poetic lines it would delight me no end.

I had this daybook where I used to indite. I have memories of my school magazine publishing my poems. As with a lot of poets I fell in love, or what I thought was love when I was thirteen or so.

The bliss and baggage that comes with early love crept into my poems and still does.

Who is most supportive about your writing?

The environment and my maid. She has been working for me for twenty-five years. As she is illiterate she has no idea about writing and stuff. She finds me consumed in serious activity, she thinks I must be doing  something worthwhile and takes care of my setup. This forges conditions for me to chase metaphors and other poetic paraphernalia.

What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?

I see poetry as an extension of myself. I seek it in most settings. Poems are my response to stimuli. They help me make sense of my situation. I wrestle for nuance by wrenching words and woes. Some poems dip into my emotional deposits, others document the demotic. The attempt is to arrest a moment of truth in a tasteful manner. In short, poetry is my engagement with existence.

Where do you write? Do you have a writing space or a particular process/routine?

I have a study, a workspace which is equipped with all I need as a poet. In this particular phase I have no life outside of writing. All of me is engaged in writing and its auxiliary activity.

What’s your favorite word?

I don’t have a favorite. I’m a lover of words but I’m a fickle lover. Words come and go. I’m always on the lookout for the next catch. (Laughs)

What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?

I don’t find it difficult. I’m the most comfortable with poetry. I’m at peace. I can work on a poem all day and all night. It is my fix. Everything else pales into insignificance.

Tell me about the piece of work that you are most proud of writing, or about the writing accomplishment you are proud of?

It is difficult to choose a poem or book. These things are valid for a while, then one moves on.  The one thing I am thankful for is that I’m still excited about the poetic process. Nothing about it seems like a chore. It has been on for forty years or so. I took a break from publishing for fifteen year (1998-2013).  Even during that phase I was penning poetry, just not publishing it.

What are your writing plans, goals, or dreams for the future?

To keep writing till I revel in it. The other things are peripheral. If it wasn’t so then my mind may have wandered to other areas, right now it’s focused on writing and publishing. For my poems to be in this or that venue, somewhere in the world every other day, is enough for me.


Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015) is his latest. His work includes, Nine Summers Later and Suddenly For Someone. A Best of the Net 2017 nominee, he has been published on six continents. Some recent credits London Grip, Ink Sweat & Tears, 3:AM Magazine, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Ann Arbor Review, Mad Swirl, Indiana Voice Journal, Right Hand Pointing, Peacock Journal, The Synesthesia Anthology: 2013-2017, Scarlet Leaf Review, Communicators League, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.