Ipoh’s Unheralded Poet
Writing poetry again after a hiatus of ten years seemed to be a good move for Raj Dronamraju. His third volume of poetry, “Travels With The Anti-Johnny Appleseed (2012)”, has been receiving rave reviews, not only in the United States, where he is from but also in Malaysia.
Raj also had the opportunity to read from the volume at the 33rd World Congress of Poets held in Ipoh in October last year.
Born in Buffalo, New York in 1965, Raj, of Indian and Caucasian American parentage, graduated from the University of Oregon majoring in journalism.
Raj has always been fascinated by the English Language, his mother tongue, and began writing poetry while still in school. Thinking that he could not go far with his poems, even after winning a poetry competition at high school, Raj concentrated all his free time writing novels instead.
His efforts resulted in a six-volume semi-autobiographical series of novels, three of which are already published and three are still in drafts, all of which are fiction based loosely on his own life experiences, the people he met and incidents that he had read about.
An eloquent speaker and prolific writer, he also has three volumes of poems published, The Return Of The Magnificent Ninny & Other Poems (2010), Solidarity With The Flesh Eating Mosaic & Other Poems (2011) and Travels With The Anti-Johnny Appleseed (2012), which garnered a larger fan base than from his novels. Not surprisingly, Raj would rather be known as a poet than an author!
Interestingly, marriage to a lovely Ipoh-born lady, Sashikhala, brought him to Malaysia, and eventually, Ipoh, where he has lived for the past six years.
Being outside of his home country has given him a better perspective of life in the United States, the people, and other aspects of the country, which was the inspiration behind Travels With The Anti-Johnny Appleseed. It has three sections, Past, Present and Future. The Past touches on childhood, though not necessarily his own, while the Present is about social situations and Future, about achieving peace of mind.
Famous poets who have inspired Raj’s style of poetry, which is written with meaning, form and rhythm in mind, are William Wordsworth, Wallace Stevens, Philip Larkin and Anne Sexton.
Raj, who is currently job-hunting after his English Language lecturing contract at Universiti Kuala Lumpur Royal College of Medicine Perak (UniKL RCMP) expired, said, “I also get inspired by my travelling experiences. While living in Kuala Lumpur, I really enjoyed the sense of the flow of life in the city. It brings life to my own writing.”
At the present moment, Raj has no plans to go into writing as a career, although he would like to devote more time to attending poetry conferences and giving live readings.
Those interested may check out excerpts of Raj’s three novels, namely Crippled Hearts (2011), The Absent (2012) and The Strong and the Wrong (2013), a novel which is set in Malaysia, and the three full volumes of poetry at www.rajbooks.com.
Other poems could be read at Raj’s regularly updated personal poetry blog at www.rajdronamraju.wordpress.com.
All of Raj’s books, ebooks for novels and soft cover books for poetry, are available for sale at major online book stores such as Amazon.com. Search for the name of author, Raj Dronamraju.