Photography by Wes Kroninger
Dublin resident Amit Majmudar wears many hats. Not only is he a practicing diagnostic nuclear radiologist, he’s a poet and novelist – and Ohio’s very first poet laureate.
The son of Indian immigrants, he was born in Jamaica, Queens. Six months after his birth, his parents moved near Cincinnati before moving to a suburb outside of Cleveland. As physicians, they needed to move to an area where doctors were in demand, Majmudar says.
A bright and promising student, Majmudar completed an accelerated program straight out of high school. He studied at the University of Akron for only two years before he went to medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University, where he earned his medical degree by the time he was 23.
Majmudar says he read tirelessly while growing up. He says he always goes back to Shakespeare, and he’s also fond of Cormac McCarthy.
“I still read a lot,” he says. “I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to influences and favorite writers. I also don’t have a single way in which an inspiration then becomes a poem. Anything can trigger it.”
Sometimes, Majmudar says, he’ll be reading something historical, and a historic era will trigger an imaginative response.
“Or, I’ll see a word,” he says. “I’ll see a word and think it can go in a poem. Sometimes, it’ll be something like an image or a sound, and I’ll want to write in a certain meter. That’s kind of how it goes. I don’t decline any trigger for a poem.”
Poetry and medicine might seem like two very different areas of interest, the perfect separation of the creative right brain and the analytical left brain. Majmudar says he does compartmentalize the two.
“(Medicine and poetry) are kind of parallel things for me. I was always a writer and always someone who was very interested in literature for years,” Majmudar says. “I did medicine as a way to sort of facilitate being a writer. The two things overlap – but very rarely.”
When he writes, Majmudar says, he doesn’t listen to music or leave his home. He likes complete silence.
“I have these headphones I wear – they’re the same ones air traffic controllers will wear to muffle sounds,” he says. “They block out the kids running around and some other noises. I like to just write in my study.”
Majmudar is always working on his next project. But the poem he’s most proud of, he says, is Dothead, which was published in the New Yorker in 2011. “Dothead” is a derogatory term that refers to the bindi and Hinduism. The poem starts with:
“Well yes, I said, my mother wears a dot.
I know they said ‘third eye’ in class, but it’s not
an eye eye, not like that. It’s not some freak
third eye that opens on your forehead like
on some Chernobyl baby. What it means
is, what it’s showing is, there’s this unseen
eye, on the inside. And she’s marking it.”
In addition the New Yorker, Majmudar has been published in The Atlantic, the Norton Introduction to Literature, The Best American Poetry 2007 and more.
His hard work paid off. In 2015, Gov. John Kasich named him Ohio’s first poet laureate.
The position is broad, Majmudar says. It essentially gives him a platform on which to promote poetry throughout the state through various programs and initiatives. One such initiative is a collaborative interdisciplinary art performance that includes ballet and classical Indian dance. Another program will work to help 15 students from Ohio’s most underprivileged school districts get their work published in the Ohio literary journal, The Kenyon Review.
“We’ll be able to get these students a start in the world of publishing poetry,” Majmudar says. “They’ll be getting wisdom from one of their elders in the art.”
Majmudar moved to Dublin in 2009 to accept his first job with Radiology, Inc. A husband and father of three children – twin boys, 8, and a daughter, 2 – he says his family loves living in the City. They live in the Ballantrae area.
“We like to go for walks. We go to the local parks. My boys are big readers, so we do take them to the library a lot,” Majmudar says. “We like to go to Jeni’s (Splendid Ice Creams) and the bunny fountains. We definitely love living in Dublin.”
Hannah Bealer is an editor. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.