Notes on love

‘Resurrection’, the second anthology of poems by Mark Rocha, implores people to not give up on the fickle emotion of love. NT BUZZ details


Q. Tell us about your new book of poetry.

‘Resurrection’ is my second anthology and is a combination of older poems and a few new ones – so it spans work done over the last decade or so. It’s a follow up to my previous anthology ‘Fallen’, and unlike the former which was darker and dealt with depression and anxiety, ‘Resurrection’ focuses more on redemption, life and more importantly the trials of being in a relationship.

Q. What were your learnings from your previous book that helped you out this time? Was coming out with a second part, the plan from the start or did it just happen?

When I started writing ‘Fallen’, I had no real intention of doing a series. In fact, I thought that it would just be a one-time thing, the idea of being a self-published writer. But as I began collating the poems that would eventually become ‘Fallen’, I realised that there was a lot more that I wanted to convey and talk about, which is why I decided to put out multiple books, rather than try and put too much into one publication and risk diluting the message. I actively started work on ‘Fallen’ back in 2010 when the concept of self-publishing was still fairly new, and there weren’t many digital options. The few that existed were too complicated and painstaking as well, which is why I worked with a local publisher in Goa.

Q. Your observations on digital publishing.

It’s a game-changer! Unlike ‘Fallen’ where I worked with Cinnamon Teal, a local publisher here in Goa, ‘Resurrection’ was done completely online and by myself. Though I designed and typeset both the books myself, the process of putting everything together along with the distribution for ‘Resurrection’ has been a purely independent endeavour. Thanks to Amazon’s digital publishing platform, ‘Resurrection’ is available worldwide in digital and in print. However, because there are limitations to its platform in India, I have a different publisher for the paperback version here. What makes digital publication attractive is the transparency that it offers. Not only do you have complete control over the publishing, but also the marketing and sales. If you have the right skill set, you can practically publish a book from start to finish over a weekend.

Q. This anthology speaks to everyone who has ever known what it is like to have loved and lost, yet not given up on this fickle emotion. On a personal level, what is it that makes you believe that love is worth it despite the trials that come with it?

I am blessed with the most amazing life partner, and that is my reference point for what love and being in a relationship is. Relationships are not easy. They require work, sacrifice and compromise. It’s disheartening to see so many young couples give up on relationships when things get tough. Or worse still, rush into relationships with ideal notions of what marriage or partnership is, only to come out on the other end of it broken. I’ve had my fair share of broken hearts, but I made it. I believe there is someone for everyone, and if you haven’t found them yet, don’t give up. The biggest mistake you’ll ever make is settling in order to make someone else happy.

Q. Many artistes are rarely happy with their works and tend to over think before putting anything out. What convinced you that you had a collection good enough to print?

I’m not convinced that I have a collection good enough to print! And I think that’s why it took five years to release ‘Fallen’, and another seven years to release ‘Resurrection’. Artistes, myself included, over think things too much. As much as we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t, we just can’t resist. Everything has to be just right, but nothing can ever be that perfect. To quote one of my own poems from ‘Fallen’: ‘Be perfect, but perfect isn’t perfect enough’. That’s something we all grapple with. But if I really think about it, the fact that there is so much that I have already written means that there can always be more – there’s nothing stopping me. If I didn’t get it right on this one, I know I can do it on the next one – and that’s what encourages me to keep going.

Q. Poetry seems to be in vogue, at least on social media. Yet, in your blog you have noted that people don’t usually pick up a poetry book. Why do you think this is the case?

Creative writing in general, like all the arts in India, is still seen as a hobby. It’s sad, but it’s true. There’s a vicious cycle that exists, and most artistes will tell you that. The average person is not willing to invest in any art form – be it movies, music, art, literature. The average person in India expects these things to be free. Which is why they will download movies and music from torrent sites, use YouTube for free, share a Netflix or Prime account – they don’t see the need to pay an artiste his or her due, and that’s the beginning of the cycle. The same goes for writing, especially poetry, which I feel is the artistic side of literature. Very few people feel the need to buy a book because in most cases it’s a one-time read and then what? But things look like they are changing, and now with digital platforms, artistes have more mediums of expression, but most importantly, a wider audience. So, while musicians have streaming services like Spotify, or movie makers have YouTube through which they can monetise their art, writers have platforms like Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. This means that as writers, we can still reach those who are interested in supporting the arts both physically through books, or digitally.

Q. How did you discover your love for poetry?

From a young age, I was always fascinated by rhyme and meter, whether it was in music or in poetry. And as a creative person, I guess, the two came naturally to me as a form of expression. I started writing poetry when I was seven. Simple rhymes about animals and ice cream trucks. But it wasn’t until I was 14 that I started writing seriously, which was also when I started playing the guitar and became more actively involved in the arts.

Q. Was writing a book something that was always on your bucket list?

Absolutely. I believe strongly in legacy, and what you are remembered for. After everything you’ve done in your life, what is that one thing that people will remember you for? What is that legacy you leave for your children, and your children’s children? For me, I want it to be my writing. I want to be remembered as a writer, and what better way to leave behind that legacy, than in books, the keepers of time.

Q. So, do you already have an idea for your next book?

I have a few ideas for what I want to do. I’ve kept ‘Resurrection’ rather simple, compared to the complexity of ‘Fallen’, so I’m hoping to revisit that cryptic complexity in my next release. There’s a lot to be desired in codedness, and I’m looking at how I can incorporate that in the next one. If I’ve looked at death and depression, and life and love, what’s next? Let’s see.