In September-October, 2017, Coldnoon celebrated six years of publishing, and travelling with you. To mark our anniversary, we got together with writers, intellectuals and stalwarts of the art of thinking (and travelling). Here is an interview with Maaz Bin Bilal.

 

We believe, in making travel arrangements, we subconsciously tend to eliminate  possibilities which we deem unfit to perceived etiquette or norms, or occasions. Our understanding of travel is based on premises that define what travelling is not. Is writing for you a similar activity, where you are conscious of what writing is not? If so, what according to you is not writing?

To extend the packing-for-travel metaphor to my writing, I can think of two things. Firstly, I try not to overpack, which is to say that I like to travel light, or write sparingly, perhaps hence poetry; writing is certainly not overwriting. The second link is a trifle more difficult to put into words: In packing for travel one wishes to take along clothes, accessories, commodities etc. that one finds appropriate for that particular trip while maintaining our taste which reflects on the personal. Writing too is a bit like that, where for each project one forges ahead with tools specific to it, but also one where one is playing hide and seek with the reader while revealing and concealing oneself in one’s writing, more so in poetry.

 

Ques) Besides writing what would you most like to be known for?

My teaching.

 

In 1794, the French author, Xavier de Maistre, wrote the renowned book, Voyage Around my Room, during a month and a half of solitary confinement, in consequence of a duel. Besides being a satire on the contemporary literary culture of voyages and adventures of colonial sailors to prospective new worlds, the book proved to be a demonstration of how an individual is almost always travelling, but perhaps does not recognize the value of their domestic travels, mobility or even touristic acquisitions. How do you see or understand travelling? Do you think it is a necessary activity for a writer?

Of course, travels of the mind and body are fundamental to the writer, and the reader. A text that does not transport is not good enough.

 

Your favorite or most striking lines by another author; or if you will, any composed by yourself?

I am currently reading Faiz Ahmed Faiz in Urdu for some research work and he is heaviest on my mind:

yeh daagh daagh ujaalaa, yeh shab gazidaa seher
woh intezaar tha jiska, yeh woh seher to nahin
yeh woh seher to nahin, jis ki aarzoo lekar
chale the yaar ki mil jaayegi kahin na kahin

falak ke dasht mein taaron ki aakhri manzil

 

This leprous daybreak, dawn night’s fangs have mangled­
This is not that looked-for break of day,
Not that clear dawn in quest of which those comrades
Set out, believing that in heaven’s wide void

Somewhere must be the stars’ last halting-place, (Trans. Kiernan)

 

Do respond to the following words: 

“The longer and more carefully we look at a funny story, the sadder it becomes.” ― Nikolai Gogol

I agree with Gogol.

 

What do you think of Coldnoon?

Coldnoon appears to be an attractive labour of love with editors who are passionate travelers and think deeply about it. If only all cold noons were as welcoming.

 

Maaz Bin Bilal

Maaz Bin Bilal

Maaz Bin Bilal is Assistant Professor for Literary Studies at Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities at O. P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Indian. He earned his PhD in English from the Queen’s University of Belfast for his dissertation on the politics of friendship in E. M. Forster’s work. Maaz writes poetry in English and translates from Urdu and Hindi.

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