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Inspirational Woman: Ambika Ananth | Editor-Poetry, ‘ Muse India’ – Web Journal

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Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently

Ambika AnanthIf I have to describe myself in one word, it is ‘eclectic’. I write in two languages, my mother tongue, Telugu and in English, as well as in multiple genres. However, I am a poet at heart, constantly composing poems in my head. I am a regular contributor to newspapers, I do review work, I take up translation assignments, and I publish books (not as commercial ventures, but to cater to a niche readership).

I was lucky to grow up in a house with lots of books around me. My father, despite his busy schedule as a senior bureaucrat, was a voracious reader, and he set a powerful example. He made me realize that by diving into books, one can spring up as a fountain of knowledge and joy.

Loving and enjoying books dearly made me think about someday writing books, although as a youngster, I was completely clueless as to what that entailed. Happily, I was given the necessary impetus when, as a budding fourteen year old, my first poem was published in an English daily. I am ever thankful that nature and nurture worked in tandem in making me a wordsmith.

I have twelve published works in genres and areas including poetry, translation, short stories, and journalistic and creative writing. I am currently working on the translation of two books – one for the Central Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, and one for M.S. Ramaiah Indology Centre, Bangalore. Both are expected to come out soon.

Muse India logoI am one of the Founder Editors of Muse India (www.museindia.com), the literary e-journal. After serving as the Chief Editor for a few years, I have relegated myself to the position of Editor – Poetry, in order to ease my work pressure and to enable me to devote my time to my other literary commitments.

Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote

Life and literature inspire me – so any project or initiative connected to these vast and rich areas interests me and I certainly wish to promote them in the best way that I can.

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

“Sometimes ‘I’ need to get out of my own way to reach success”. I suspect this is true of both me and of scores of others. Once one knows how to push aside feelings of self-doubt and knows to spawn the wind beneath their wings, the biggest challenge has been overcome.

In my case, the world of letters has many definitions for the word ‘success’. Indeed, it is more personal than generic. And of course, if one has to measure in terms of commercial success, I must say that I am not in that race. If I have achieved any success, it is due to many others. I cannot claim ownership completely; I believe we are all one-winged birds, and only with mutual support and understanding, as genial groups we can soar high.

What has been your greatest achievement personally?

Ambika AnanthMy greatest achievement is yet to be achieved. But I have felt great and grateful each and every time my work has received appreciation. That rightful pride has helped me forge ahead with conviction.

“If writing is an exercise with a single sword, translation is an exercise with two swords. Just as knowledge of one language does not make one a writer, knowledge of two languages does not make one a translator.”

Being a good translator requires great dexterity and is a real challenge – however, the translator is filled with immense satisfaction when the work at hand is successfully completed. Personally speaking, and with utmost humility, I would say that I feel ‘well achieved’ as a translator.

I am also very proud of what our Muse India team has achieved. Through our e-journal, we have helped showcase Indian literature as World Literature through translation and have helped multilingual voices transcend societal and physical boundaries to be appreciated in far-away domains. Each issue of our e-journal has been a coherent and representative collection of contemporary Indian literature. Muse India is now a reliable source for information and reference. This is truly a great collective achievement.

Several literary stalwarts have contributed to Muse India, and many of them have been empanelled as contributing language editors. Our aim is to give the reader an engaging, serious, critical and unique reading experience. At present Muse India has a strong membership base from over 45 countries, and we can boast of a literary treasure chest of 65 Archive Issues. We can therefore call ours a well-developed e-journal with wonderful features, a neat interface and easy maneuverability.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

I would be a teacher or a mentor, guiding young vibrant minds. I would certainly still be someone who venerates ‘words’.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My father wrote some beautiful and sensitive poems, but never got them published. It seemed as though his muses were only his, to be cherished in his own heart. However, they spread their fragrance into my impressionable mind every time he recited them privately to us, and to his IAS batch-mate friends, who frequently requested him to do so.

My father imbibed in me one significant principle – to love ‘matru bhoomi’ (motherland) and ‘matru bhasha’(mother tongue) as dearly as one’s ‘matrudevi’ (mother). Hence, I have continued to write in Telugu, my mother tongue, with respect and with vigour. I dedicated my first book of poetry in Telugu to my dear father because he was the one who held and guided my little hand to write the very first alphabet…

What does the future hold for you?

For me, the future holds more diversified literary activity and more robust involvement in running of our e-journal, ‘Muse India’. I also see myself working for some social cause – a sort of ‘giving back to society’ – that every person must aim to do, at some stage in life.

Find out more about Muse India by visiting their website here.

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