NILAVRONILL: Do you think literature or poetry is really essential in our life? If so why? And how does it relate to the general history of mankind?
SUNITA SINGH: I do feel that Literature and Poetry play a significant role in our life. According to me all literature, especially poetry is connected to the heart and deals with emotions, yet it needs sufficient cogitation, thus it is a perfect amalgamation of heart and the head. Literature in the form of stories, essays, novels, plays, provides us with many different views and enables us to read beyond the surface, they teach us to express effectively and sparks our imagination. Literature and history of mankind is interlinked, I would say. The early man used symbols, drawings, signs but as mankind progressed, the development of language came forth. Besides, literature of the times serves as a doorway to the past. It enables us to understand or know about the cultures and traditions and the thoughts of those times.
NILAVRONILL: Our readers would like to know your own personal experience regarding the importance of literature and poetry in your life. Why literature or poetry in specific interests you so much? Who were your favourite writers during the early period of your life? And how they have paved your early routes in literature?
SUNITA SINGH: Literature in the form of novels, plays, poems have always held a great fascination for me. Poetry is my resting place, my haven, it is the language of the soul, it soothes me, gives me faith, hope, and joy. During the early period of my life, I read a lot of Enid Blyton books as well as those by Agatha Christie. I also read a lot of classics. Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot. Jane Austen was my favourite writer. My favourite poets were/ are Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rosetti, Emily Dickinson, but the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran was/is close to my heart for its simple wisdom. Reading good literature has helped me in my writing.
NILAVRONILL: Do you think society as a whole, is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet, or your poetry altogether?
SUNITA SINGH: Society has a bearing on everyone, either the poet/writer writes in accordance to the conventions and values of those times or is in complete opposition to it. In both cases, it has an impact on the poet/writer.
NILAVRONILL: 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 SINGH: Literature is taught in schools, but students mostly think of it as just fat books. General interest in literature too has gone down because people do not want to spend time in reading which requires one to do deep thinking, the information age has turned us into shallow thinkers who just skim over every piece of writing. Pulitzer finalist, 2011, Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, talks about this problem.
NILAVRONILL: How do you relate your own self existence with your literary life in one hand, and the present time and the socio-political space around you, in the other.
SUNITA SINGH: Frankly speaking it is quite distressing to find a rise in communalism and caste-based violence, the schisms in society are getting more pronounced. Intolerance is on the rise. As sensitive people we react through our pen and also through protests, though literature can be a powerful tool to heal and build bridges.
NILAVRONILL: Please give us some idea about your own views on the contemporary Indian literature written in English.
SUNITA SINGH: Contemporary Indian writers in English are doing a marvellous job, of ‘Indanizing’ their writings. There are books of all genres. On the one hand we have Jeet Thayil, Vikram Seth, Jayant Mahapatra, Adil Jussawala, Anita Desai, and on the other, we also have Amish Tripathi, Chitra Banerjee Devkurni, Anuja Chauhan and various others. There are many fabulous writers, who are not as well – known too. Personally speaking, it would be wonderful to popularize all kinds of writers cutting across class and caste lines, so that we have more varied literature.
NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature have largely been extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general? Now, in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul; how do you respond to this present time?
SUNITA SINGH: Most certainly the age of information and technology has brought about tremendous changes otherwise I would have received this in my mail-box and not in my electronic mail! During our times, literature meant books and the feel and scent of paper. Now we have books on kindle and also audio books. We too strive to strike a balance between the two, I have recently brought out a book of poems called ‘Dance of the Flamingoes’, but like my friends, I would want to experiment with a book using the kindle format.
NILAVRONILL: Do you believe all writers are by and large the product of their nationality? And what are the factors which pay dividends and which become obstacles for your ultimate growth as an international writer even beyond your time?
SUNITA SINGH: Ideally a writer transcends all barriers whether of caste, class, community or even nationality, however these things may have a bearing on his/her writing. To grow as a writer one needs to be free from the various shackles and write straight from the soul.
NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past, is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. But are you hopeful about our future? How do you react when innocent peoples suffer immensely in Gaza or in Iraq, Syria Afghanistan or elsewhere? Whether it is state sponsored terrorism or sponsored by individual terrorist groups. Innocent peoples are the first victims. Your response.
SUNITA SINGH: Yes, it is the innocent who suffer always, whether it is Gaza, Iraq or any other place. As sensitive people, we have had poetry anthologies where many poets have empathized and expressed the pain through intense, heartfelt poems. I am hopeful that the future can be better but for that we need to have positive thought and action. Love and compassion without judgement is the only way forward.
NILAVRONILL: We all believe in individual liberty and human rights, yet these two are the constant targets of attacks from various quarter of power, even in India. How you would like to respond to this situation?
SUNITA SINGH: Yes, individual liberty, freedom of thought and human rights are constantly under attack, and we have seen many cases of poets, writers, thinkers, being attacked and jailed, sometimes even killed for their belief, whether Gauri Lankesh, Kalburgi or Varavara Rao. The reason for this is that those in power fear change.
NILAVRONILL: Dear poet tell us; do you believe one day may be in the distant future this world will be a safer place for every new born? When we will see each other as an equal in dignity and embrace everybody as human being overcoming all the differences of ethnicity, religion, nationality, racism? Bringing the world altogether?
SUNITA SINGH: I do believe in the power of positivity; however I am a realist too and understand that any kind of a Utopian belief is an illusion unless each one of us strives to take a step forward towards becoming more compassionate, understanding and more loving. We need to be more kind towards each other.
NILAVRONILL: Many thanks for spending such a wonderful time with us, we would like to conclude this interview with a personal note, are you satisfied about your own achievements in your life? What are your plans for future? And how do you evaluate your contemporaries and what are your aspirations from the younger generation?
SUNITA SINGH: Frankly, I do not plan or strategize, I just do things which I enjoy or feel strongly about. My achievements are ordinary and small – writing a good poem or a story, spending time with my loved ones, sometimes making a sad person smile or giving a random compliment, fills me with joy. As of now, I have just completed writing a book on my father – his memoirs and am now looking to publish it. I am constantly in a state of awe of my contemporaries, most of them are such brilliant writers and poets. As far as the younger generation is concerned, I have many younger poet friends, from whom I learn a lot.
SUNITA SINGH is a bi-lingual poet, writer and storyteller. Her poems and stories feature in many Indian and International Anthologies and e-magazines, like Glomag, Different Truths, Spillwords, Destiny Poets UK, and others. She is an active member of Katha Kathan, a forum for reviving Indian languages and has done dramatized readings of stories and poems of many famous writers. Her English poetry collection, Dance of the Flamingoes has been released this year. She has also been on the editorial board of a women’s magazine and is one of the editors of a recently launched Anthology of Roseate Sonnets. Sunita likes to disconnect from the mad chaos and finds inspiration from nature, whether in the mountains, the beach or even in the quiet corners of a park.
One thought on “TALKING WITH POET SUNITA SINGH”
Lovely thoughts Mrs Sunita Singh. Looking forward for reading more of your work.