NILAVRONILL: Do you think literature or poetry is really essential in our life? If so why?
SUNITA PAUL: Yes, I think literature, specially Poetry is very much needed in our life. What is life without passion, heat, and deep, dark emotions? Poetry has it all. It connects people, it is the voice of the feeble, it helps promote and spread the lost culture. Maybe not as oxygen or food but then ” as man cannot live with bread alone” similarly literature adds beauty to our otherwise monotonous routine. Literature can help expand the horizons of its readers. It gives its readers an inside look into how cultures from other parts of the world differ from their own, and how customs from other countries help shape how their citizens view the world.
NILAVRONILL: How does it relate to the general history of mankind?
SUNITA PAUL: Long before human civilization started in this world stories were found in the twinkling stars, the waves of the oceans, the mystery of the forests. Long before language was invented, stories were told and engraved upon stone tablets and wall carvings. Long before humans began to know how to read and write with the words that our ancestors created, literature already existed. Behind every book is a man; behind the man is the race; and behind the race are the natural and social environments whose influence is undefined. Literature is the foundation of humanity’s cultures, beliefs, and traditions. Everything that happens within a society can be written, recorded. Literature is present during the era of the ancient world. Even without the invention of words and language, literature was already manifested in the earliest human civilizations. Carvings and paintings on walls inside caves of stone give evidence about the lives of prehistoric people. They explain their way of life.
Literature is also a tool for the foundation of all religions. The oldest scripts are from different religious books. Literature is an instrument of revolution. Political turmoil, societal injustice, and genocidal conquest can all be ended and resolved in the form of literature. In addition to being a tool for revolution, literature can also be a device for an adoration to a nation. It can do so much for one’s own country. Numerous poems, songs, sonnets, ballads, and odes were written by famous writers as manifestations of their love and patriotism towards their own country. It is still an important part in our lives in the present times. Literature is found in the beginning of all things, this is what I am truly certain about. It continues to live throughout the ages. It connects human beings and mirrors reality in an artistic way, in a profound value. As long as our world lives, so does literature flourish.
NILAVRONILL: Who were your favorite writers during the early period of your life? And how they have paved your early routes in literature?
SUNITA PAUL: Wordsworth’s poems inspired me to write in a rhythmic way. He helped me shape up my identity and style. “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”I have learnt to ink with love from him. I love Emily Dickinson’s poetry as well,as she says “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul — and sings the tunes without the words — and never stops at Robert Frost’s “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Langston Hughes still continues boosting my spirits high through his awesome poetry which speaks out loud…..”Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” When John Keats says, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” But I’m most influenced by Maya Angelou and her poetry.
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise. “
These lines are my inspiration. I love her each and every poem be it, “I know why the caged bird sings Or” The Phenomenal Woman”.
She taught me,
“I’m a woman
NILAVRONILL: Now coming back to the present time, do you think people in general actually bother about literature in general? Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature?
SUNITA PAUL: Yes today’s youth is very much interested in literature and culture. No I don’t feel this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature and that is clearly proved in the increase rate of booksales even in this pandemic period. The rise of the Publishing companies alsohelps us to believe the fact. Classic literature is still relevant today because it is able to give readers certain insights by giving a glimpse into the past and sharing its input on issues that have stayed as universal and timeless as they have. Understanding the past does, we hope, prevent us from repeating the mistakes of our predecessors but, more than that, it helps us appreciate how attitudes have changed over time. This, in turn, promotes a deeper understanding of why we are who we are today. That is why the study of literature in the contemporary times, perhaps, is even more relevant today than it has ever been.
NILAVRONILL: Now if we try to understand the tradition and modernism, do you think literature can play a pivotal role in it? If so, how?
SUNITA PAUL: Traditional is a ritual belief that in the form of values passes down from generation to generation within a society. The tradition that is maintained in the present has its origins in the past. It also includes the ideas which are mostly considered as useful and socially meaningful. Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years. Tradition has a very strong hold over Indian society from the time immemorial and new traditions continue to appear with changing times. Traditions are often presumed to be ancient, unalterable and deeply important and are required for a practice by future generations. Modernity can be defined as those sets of ideas or beliefs which are ever flowing and evolving like a stream. It relies on an ‘expressive’ model of communication in which each person is a unique self and this interior uniqueness finds its expression, to a certain extent through the act of communication with other unique selves. Modernity aims towards a progressive force promising to liberate humankind from ignorance and irrationality. This rationalization sometimes may have negative and dehumanizing effect on modern society when it is taken only for the sake of progress. So, we can see how both are totally different from each other in concept and perception. How can Literature not play a pivotal role here? Our daily lives all revolve around literature be it in the traditional era or the modern one.
NILAVRONILL: Again, how can an individual writer relates himself or herself with the tradition and modernism?
SUNITA PAUL: As times changed, as traditional routes gave way to modernism, an individual writer too gets the same influence as this change affects the society as a whole. It’s clearly visible in the writings as it changed vastly in respect of the changing times.
NILAVRONILL: Do you think society as a whole, is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet, or your poetry altogether?
SUNITA PAUL: Society, life, the personal and professional experiences all shaped my poetic path and my poetry altogether shaped the poet in me.
NILAVRONILL: Coming to the present time, how does politics in general influence you in your writings?
SUNITA PAUL: Literature has profound influence in politics. It is through literature that a true world is portrayed and this in turn depicts the unmended loopholes prevalent in a social structure. Although I announce myself as Apolitical, but I cannot deny the fact that sometimes I am driven by the present social and political situation not only in our country but the chaos and unrest prevalent in the whole world today.It’s then when my pen starts writing what I cannot speak loud. The rebel self which I generally hide deep inside then burst out and writes in protest against the heinous acts of the shrewd politicians and in support of the weak mankind. Though my genre is mainly nature, womanhood, love or life but sometimes I love to speak up for my country, my fellow citizens. In this way you may say in general politics affect my writings. But then I make sure to use it in a constructive way and spread positive vibes across the globe. I’m very careful with choosing my words as I know a pen is mightier than a sword and anytime it can cause a war but as a writer my work is to share works for promoting peace and love to all my readers.
NilAVRONILL: Are you feminist? Can literature play any decisive role in feminism at all?
SUNITA PAUL: No I’m not a hard core feminist at all, though I believe in celebration of Womanhood and strongly condemn any crime against women. (read any living being.) But I believe that literature has a great role to play in feminism. Feminist literature is fiction, nonfiction, drama, or poetry, which supports the feminist goals of defining, establishing, and defending equal civil, political, economic, and social rights for women.
Influenced by the feminists of the West and with the advancement of education and awareness among the women many Indian feminist writers started writing against secondary position of women. Some of them are Kamala Markandaya, Ruth Prawar Jhabwala, Nayantara Sahgal, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Bharti Mukherjee and so on. They presented ‘modern women’ who started working shoulder to shoulder with men and this traditional formula got a tremendous change which is being adopted by women all over India. To them modernism tends to discard the notion that women are physically or intellectually, socially or economically or biologically inferior to men.
These women novelists protest against traditional woman who is submissive and waits hand and foot on man, expects nothing in return and doesn’t mind not being allowed to have a mind or life of her own. They always try to keep their husbands sexually satisfied and are more family oriented. Even if they themselves are unsatisfied, they never supposed to raise their voice against it as it is bound to be undervalued morals. In contrast, they portray ‘modern woman’ who is economically independent and shares family budget. Even she is sexually independent to choose her partner who can provide her both physical and spiritual satisfaction through his love and caring. A woman too focused on their career and knows about her rights more than before. Women characters of Nomita Gokhale and Shobha De belong to the category of rebellious women, bold and strong. Shattering the traditional image of the Indian woman, as weak, docile person living at the mercy of her partner and following the western tradition, these two gossip writers present this ‘liberated women’ very freely and boldly.
NILAVRONILL: Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality and is it an incentive or an obstacle for becoming a truly international writer?
SUNITA PAUL: Personally, I don’t feel writer, artists, singers or any creative people have any borders or restrictions. But still sometimes they too face the perks of being a citizen of this planet. It depends on whether it becomes incentive or an obstacle from man to man. Some may use his or her nationality to get some kinds of advantages from the weaker countries. Sometimes the writers also try to create an influence on the foreign countries through their identity. But then according to me the obstacles to reach out globally is created the moment your pen is stuck up in one place, when your mind is confined in a room how do you expect to explore and conquer new horizons, to reach the summit.
NILAVRONILL: What role can literature play to make our lives better on a day to day basis?
SUNITA PAUL: Literature is the mirror of our soul. It’s a break free from our hectic schedule, in our monotonous routine life, literature acts as a whiff of fresh breeze. When we inhale literature, specially poetry we exhale positive vibes. The fiction, stories, novels and also poetry mainly helps us rejuvenate our weary self. In our day to day life, inspite of the stress, a book with our favourite beverage boosts up our spirit. Good literature is a great stress buster. It’s like someone has invented a whole new parallel universe just for you. Why live in just one reality when you can live in multiple. And you can always return to this one whenever you want to. So read on.We forget our worries for sometime and get transported in a beautiful fantasy world where everything is so beautiful and grand. It also has other values as it develops our speaking skills and improves our vocabulary not just in words but in ideas too . Reading gives us vast knowledge of anything and everything which is very much useful in our daily life.Having said, there are two aspects to this question depending on what kind of a book you are reading. Anything bad will always have a harmful effect and vice versa.
SUNITA PAUL: Hailing from the educational, commercial and cultural centre of Eastern India, Kolkata, Sunita Paul is an author, editor, publisher and humanitarian of international repute. She has authored 6 books and has edited more than 35 anthologies. For her contributions towards literature, Sunita was awarded many times internationally and in the national front some of them being the prestigious Nazi Naman prize in the year 2017. She was also the recipient of the Literary Laureate Award for the year 2017 conferred by the World Nations Writer’s Organization, Kazakhstan. Recently she received the IndianAwaz Award in Kolkata. In the field of humanity, Sunita Paul represents a number of organizations in India and abroad. She is also the National General Secretary of National Child & Woman Development Council (NCWDC) and National Human Rights & Anti-corruption Force (NHRACF) and the administrative persona in the World Institute Of Peace, Nigeria. Sunita is also famed as an organiser of International Conferences Pan India. She is Founder of Aabs Publishing House, Kolkata and member of Atunis B