Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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bill berry, jr.

Publisher and CEO, aaduna &
Member, Rockford Kingsley's Advisory Board
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunil P. Narayan
 

 

 

   

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Interview With Noted Poet
Sunil P. Narayan
 
bill berry, jr.
 
Sunil P. Narayan, at age 26, has seen his poetry published in a wide variety of national and international publications. He meticulously crafts sophisticated and post-modern artworks due to his extensive study of classical and modern literary works (Western, Eastern, and African).  His ability to transcend the current trends in writing; collaborations with artists in different genres, and high publication rate makes him one of the critical voices of his generation.  
 
Sunil's work has traveled a long, enriching journey that along the way absorbed the world's eccentricities. This path enabled him to create exceptional work of colorful images, surrealism, spiritualism, and human emotion.  The past two years witnessed a climatic moment in which his writing churned out emotionally-inducing poems that complements his intent to help people access feelings they rarely get to experience.
 
Sunil is a full-time student pursuing a B.S. degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice, minor in English Literature and a post baccalaureate certificate in Women’s Studies. He plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. He is single and resides in Beaverton, Oregon. His work was published in aaduna’s premier issue.
 
Recently, he took some time to chat with me.
 
 
 
bill:
In higher education circles, you carry several designations: adult learner, returning student, community college student. In terms of your creativity, you are multi-dimensional. Published in several countries, you have collaborated with musicians in France and Germany, fashion designers in Switzerland, and a museum curator in Syracuse, NY. How did you come live in Beaverton, Oregon?
 
Sunil:
Thank you so much for asking me for an interview! I am flattered by your great compliments. To answer your question, I was born in Portland but was raised in Beaverton, which has been my hometown my whole life. It is a lovely city partly due to the fact it does not experience any natural disasters; the other reason is the quiet atmosphere. My father and mother were among the first Indians to live in this city, so it was quite lonely for me and my brother when we were little boys. However, we had each other and my mother was determined to raise us as Aryans (members of the multi-thousand year old Vedic civilization of India), and so we were exposed to the classical arts of India from early on. My mother is an Aryan and my father eventually embraced her teachings. We participate in yajna, pray to our family deity, and live by Hindu code of social behavior. Virtue is very important to my mother, as well as philosophy. In a country such as America, she found it suffocating to remain an Aryan so didn’t have very many friends. The “respect everyone’s privacy” attitude of Beaverton made life for my family comfortable. We can be ourselves and not worry about prejudice.
 
bill:
Briefly describe yajna. Do you consider yourself Aryan, and if so, why? I suspect these influences, particularly the Hindu code of social behavior, influenced your style and themes of writing. How important has acceptance (the way Beaverton provides it to its residents) been to the topics you elect to write about?  
 
Sunil:
Yajna is a sacred Vedic ritual in which one offers a sacrifice to Agni (the God of Fire and fire itself). The fire is created within a kunda and he/she offers ghee and his negative thoughts, energy and feelings (the sacrifice). You have to also chant a hymn from the Rig Veda.
The notion of Aryan refers to someone who is sophisticated, moral, humble, responsible, dutiful, respectful, educated and an adherent of societal codes for behavior.  I was raised to be this way and it offers me peace and balance.  Plus, I’m a Libran, so it all, works out well for me.
 
The classical literary texts of Hinduism have influenced me to a great extent so when I write religious works you’ll either see a depiction or traces of it.  I am more skilled in writing religious works than contemporary ones because my identity is archaic.  When I write post-modernist pieces it becomes frustrating.  How do I relate to the modern world?  I’m an old soul. There is no 100% relation.  I straddle the line between both an archaic and a modern world in terms of my thinking.  This is where the principle of balance (something that’s key to being a Libran) is evident.
 
Beaverton is very accepting of its cultural and ethnic diversity but the issue of varied poetic styles finding acceptance is reserved for Portland, OR.  Nearly all literary publications in Oregon do not accept my sophisticated style. The only one that publishes my work is The Portland Alliance, which is where my career as a poet began.  Mary Otte saw something special in my craft so she published my work several times (and still does).  She’s a very good, honest woman.
 
Oregon is not the best place to begin one’s career as a poet, partly because the quality of poetry is so degraded you can’t tell what special purpose the poets serve.  One can go further and say the same about poetry nationwide.  For an Indian, entertaining the audience is important…your main priority.  My pieces are meant to entertain people. Yet, simultaneously they impart the knowledge provided to me via my religion, Sanatana Dharma and mother.  If sophistication is not employed, I am disappointing the reader who uses his spare time to read poetry while sipping tea.  Oregon has a very, very post-modernist artistic world.  I find it rather distasteful because my interests in artwork are classical and refined.  High quality is important, though here it’s too subjective.
 
bill:
I am sure Oregon poets and poets in general would challenge your assessment about the state of poetry since there are many varied and vibrant styles that are enriching and captivating. Interestingly, some of your work is edgy and definitely post modernist. I suspect your studies of criminal justice and women’s issues, as modern world issues, have some influence on your writing and sense of self. While you may straddle the line, it appears your spiritual grounding helps you overcome adversity. What is your best personal trait and what aspect of your personality would you rather toss away?    
 
Sunil:
I am a very kind-hearted person so I have this need to help people. It is why I plan on going into the field of Criminology, to study the sex slave trade in order to provide scientific findings to help produce laws or better ones that can combat human trafficking. But I also want to study victimology, which can be done when immersing one’s self in Criminology.
 
There is no part of my personality that I want to toss away because I love all of myself. I love who I am which is complex and highly unusual. It’s why people are drawn to me. They’ve never met someone like me before. I believe that if you love your personal qualities then you can tell everyone else their opinion of you doesn’t matter.
 
bill:
There is a courageous aspect to what you say about continuously loving yourself particularly since some folks have difficulty doing just that on a routine basis. As a person dealing with a hearing impairment, what do you say to motivate people who have to deal with a disabling physical, mental, or emotional condition?  
      
Sunil:
I was born with a panic disorder and hearing impairment.  They’re part of me, things that are just there but not what defines me.  I was treated as normal as possible for the majority of my life.  Unfortunately, for many people this is not the case.  They’re told by their family, students, friends and colleagues that they can’t do something that’s great just because of their disability.  I was told this many times when growing up, but it just made me want to prove them wrong.
 
Writing amazing literary works is always a battle because of my panic disorder (my hearing impairment wasn’t a lifelong battle because I received amazing accommodations since age 8).  But I push forward and the end result is aesthetically pleasing.  There was a time when I couldn’t write poetry because my panic disorder destroyed me entirely…I was this empty shell with no life and no nature.  I was nothing and my gift of poetry was gone.  I got it back three years ago though not without a huge struggle of course.  I didn’t have the self-esteem necessary to continue with my career as a writer.  Extreme low self-esteem is one of the side-effects of having a panic disorder.  But there is one moment in which I knew I should keep going because it’s meant to be.
 
It was back in 2010, I had this one portfolio that was simplistic yet refined and mythological.  It was me with my little amateur butt thinking that no one will take a second look at my work.  However, I knew my technique would work in the literary world but it was a matter of convincing the editors….  The literary world told me I’ll never make it, that I’m not good enough.  It didn’t stop me from finding someone who will take a chance on me.  So, when I came across BillyBoy* in 2010 on the Facebook page for Joe Dallesandro, he explained to me that he used to be the editor for the French and Italian editions of Harper’s Bazaar.  At that moment I knew he was the man I was looking for!  I told him I was a poet, then he surprised me by saying he wanted to see my work.  I submitted my portfolio to him immediately.  He read it; then responded to me in a week giving compliments reserved for elite writers.  I thought to myself, “Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s happening!”  BillyBoy understood my work and loved it. The French love anything that’s different!  He offered me a ticket to success…you wouldn’t believe how joyous I was at that moment!  I emailed my friends and sister-in-law (she’s no longer engaged to my brother) about the opportunity, screaming, “I GOT THE TICKET!” They were like, “What ticket?  Where are you going?”  I started writing the “Mdvanii” portfolio for BillyBoy* and Lala in July.
 
I idolize the world’s first Supermodel, Janice Dickinson, who has a personality that’s similar to mine.  I attribute the success of my career to her wisdom.  In 1979, her French agent Monique Pillard of Ford Models, Inc. asked her a famous question. “Janice you are taking on too much work, you’re going to get sick!  Who do you think you are?  Superman?” to which Janice replied with certainty, “No honey, I am Supermodel!  And from now on you will refer to me as Supermodel”.  Monique said, “Then you will BE Supermodel!”  That’s how the term came to be, Janice coined it. I’m hoping one day that my mentor will ask me, “Sunil you are working too much work and are going too fast, you’re going to get sick!  Who do you think you are?  Superman?” I will reply with certainty, “No, honey!  I am Superpoet, and from now on you will refer to me as Superpoet.” He will say, “Then you will BE Superpoet!”  The term Superpoet doesn’t exist, nor does it have a definition.  It is because no one thinks such a thing could exist. I’m hoping to coin the term one day.
 
bill:
And you have the savvy tempered with humility to just pull that off. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. Do you have any final thoughts or advice you want to share with Rockford Kingsley readers?
 
Sunil:
Thank you. 
 
Indians are very humble people, so there’s no Indian you’ll come across who thinks he’s all that. I have a fear that Mahakali will hack my ego to pieces and when that happens to someone the situation is never pretty! My advice for anyone who is considering pursuing an art form or already is an artist is to do your homework. Never settle for mediocrity because your career will not last. Treat your career as if you were a couture model because only then will you accumulate adequate success, recognition, and acceptance. Your career as an artist is secondary to your main career, which is obtained via a college degree. So, go to college, get a BA/BS…then a MA/MS and pursue your artistic career on the side. It may surprise some people if they hear that many Indians who are legendary artists have their artistic profession as a side job. My Bharata Natyam teacher, whom I had as a child, was a psychiatrist at a mental health hospital and she taught me school is more important than your artistic passion. I never understood that till now because my parents are old and I take care of them. They need me, so if I were to be selfish and not become a criminologist, who will take care of them, then? It’s a Hindu custom for children to take care of their parents when they’re old. In America we usually put them in nursing homes, HA! 
 
P.S. You’re welcome.
 
 
 *BillyBoy (an elite artist and one of the foremost pioneers and legends in the European artistic community). Information can be found on him at these sites: 
  

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