Column Description: This column will explore how library programming has no bounds but endless possibilities – when you think outside the box. Every issue, there will be a different contributor sharing their stories of when they tested the limits and experimented with programming for their patrons.
I interviewed my friend, Vijay Ramanathan, who also is a librarian. He is active in so many things (like a lot of people who work in libraries). I figured, especially now when so many of us are feeling isolated, this is a fun way to learn about someone new.
What was your first full-time job? What made you decide to switch careers?
I worked as an English Teacher for a very short time before deciding to do the MLS at St. John's University. That job helped me to become marketable for a children's librarian job at Queens Library. Everything serves its purpose even if it's not what we originally intended it to be.
What made you interested in poetry? What kind of poetry is your favorite?
When I was a senior in high school a good friend of mine encouraged me to read poetry. I found classic American writers such as Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to be engaging and interesting. I later fell into writing poetry as a method for processing my emotional life and reflections on meaning.
Tell us more about your talk show on internet radio?
I do a live talk show with Radio Free Brooklyn called "The Truth to Power Show" wherein I speak to poets, writers, and other creative types to discuss what truth they live their life by and how it empowers them and their community. Some interesting conversations over at Radio Free Brooklyn across the platform.
What kind of questions do you ask on your radio show of guests that you would want me to ask you about?
Speaking on empowering truths, I have discovered that contemplative paths are the way I have empowered myself by avoiding common mind traps that used to always act as blocks, such as self-doubt. I have been empowered to speak my truth in each moment and bear witness to my experiences as they arise. Not to hide behind negative emotions such as anger or sadness. I've learned that the easiest way to empower is to slow down and give yourself space to not trip on your own proverbial shoelaces.
I heard you decided to go back to school to study counseling, what made you decide to do that?
I decided to amplify my ability to help others to engage in such practices in their own lives accessing their creativity and creative spirit in a way that feels appropriate for them. My interest in integrating all these seemingly divergent aspects of myself is part of the motivation for this master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (focused on Trans personal Mindfulness-Based Counseling) at Naropa University.
Do you also publish a literary journal? Tell us more about that -- if you want to.
Yes, It's called "nine cloud journal" I started it as a pandemic project although I had the idea before the pandemic to start a journal. It's a bi-yearly journal right now. I am working with another poet Scott Raven. We publish print and e-book versions as well as spotlight some on the website.
How has the pandemic affected you and what did you do to cope?
I really used this opportunity to dive into my projects and practices. I have gained a great deal from this collective pause and I hope those who can are able to take advantage of this time and see it as both a challenge and an opportunity.
What is your favorite book? What are you currently reading?
I like Haruki Murakami and Stephen King. I haven't been too good with finishing books but I do read a lot. I like rereading some passages from books on my bookshelves mostly on Buddhism and meditation.
What's your favorite movie/tv-series? What are you currently watching?
I just finished binging The Good Place which was really amazing. I also watched Wanda Vision. That took me a few episodes to really appreciate. I recommend people check out Counterpart and The Killing for lesser-known shows.
Do you have any pets? Do you read to them?
Yes, I have a cat. She doesn't sit still enough for me to read to her but it's a fun idea.
Any helpful words of advice to other librarians in the state of NY?
Keep pursuing your passions. It's a great way to be a better librarian and person. Seek out things to be a beginner at and see how that connects with you. Follow your bliss.
How can people get in touch with you or learn more about your projects?
My two websites are VijayRNathan.com and NineCLoudJournal.org there's a contact us page and an email listed there and links to the talk show. Feel free to rate the show on Apple podcasts or any of my books on Goodreads. Don't be shy, look me up!
Kacper Jarecki is a community library manager at Queens Public Library. He is membership chair of the Ethnic Services Roundtable (ESRT). Help celebrate diversity by joining ESRT today ;-)