Hello Joie, welcome to Incredible Women Of India, Thank you for being a part of Incredible Women Writers of India, Monsoon Edition, 2015 and sharing your journey as a writer and poet with us.
First of all tell us something about your growing up years, your school and college days, and your family.
Dichotomy reigned in me, since childhood. On one hand I was a day dreamer, who was very much into books. I used to bunk classes and hide in the library which I must confess, used to be one of the finest in the city. My first love was Howard Roark and for a very long time, did keep on seeking him. In fact my husband has shades of Roark, though not orange! I had finished the classics and popular stuff by class eight and was onto the Russians by the time I was fifteen. I used to read late into the night and finished books in an average of two days.
On the other hand I was a tom boy, always looking out for adventures and new experiences. Seeking the new in the mundane. I have been driving since I was fourteen and have won prizes for in the Vintage Car Rally twice, sailing around the city in a Baby Austin, 1932. Well, both the streaks I have inherited from my mother, through it manifested differently.
What makes you, You?
One, I am as my name suggests, Joie de Vivre; the joy of life lies in its every aspect and I want to grasp it. I even got the phrase it tattooed on me. Two, I’m brutally honest. Three, I write about everything. I write to express, to communicate. I am a serial writer some say. Some say, I’m poetry in Motion. And lastly, I’m intensely passionate.
How did your journey as a poet begin?
I wrote my first poem when I was in class 2. Ever since i have been published in School Magazines and Voices, a supplement of The Statesman and Telekids, later on. When I was in class eleven or twelve I was published in Seagull’s anthology of Poems for Peace and eventually in 8th Day, The Statesman ever since 2004. I have headed the book club for 5years in Calcutta Girls High School. In St.Xaviers College, I have held positions as the Secretary of the English Academy and Fine Arts Academy and won prizes in creative writing in over 20 college fests. Then I stopped. But since the past two years I have again resorted to Poetry for I realized that it’s the only way to combat urban melancholy which eventually sets in everybody’s life.
What are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any at all?
As a serial writer, hehe… My inspirations are everything. Muses are everyone. It could even be you, if I end up having a very intense interaction.
Why do you write?
I write for my sanity. I feel intensely about a lot of things. To condense it down into a poem, is a beautiful mind challenge. Moreover, if i feel intensely about something, a poem comes to me. I end up writing 6-10 poems in some days if that many intense things happen.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Passion I guess… To say the unsaid. For the way I say it, it’s precious. I know.
Do you write full-time or part-time?Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
Almost every day. Since January 2015, i have written something every day. I consider Sudeep Sen my mentor, who one day told me that one has to write, everyday. I follow his words like Bible almost. It also helps that perceptions come to me so much.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
The hardest thing about writing itself is that it can’t keep up to the speed o the mind. The easiest thing about writing is that a lot of unsaid things can be said in that bit of blank space which exists between the words and lines.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Dr. Sudeep Ranjan Sarkar calls me a Gypsy Spirit. Arthur Cardozo says I have essences of Frieda Kahlo in me. Of course, i don’t adhere much to structures.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? And how do you get over it?
I wish I did, but my mind races. It hurts not to write. Good bad ugly, I end up writing something. Earlier I used to delete things I didn’t like. Nowadays I store them. I wish I had time to stare at the ceiling wanting to write something but not being able to. Even if it’s bad, I write.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
From the external, I have shifted to the internal. I have learnt the importance of every single word that is used in poetry; every punctuation and every piece should have layers and multiple meanings, so that depending on the mood of the reader, a new meaning surfaces each time.
What are you working on at the minute?
Four different writing projects that span over academics, fiction, non-fiction and poetry apart from my PhD. Yes, I’m serious. It’s difficult to manage it and I don’t know when it will be done, but yes I’m on it.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors and poets / what are your favourite books?
I don’t read that much for pleasure and pleasure alone. Of lately i have read only work related books apart from those that have been written by people I actually know or have met. I have finished Avik Chanda’s Anchor and Devdan Chaudhari’s An Anatomy of Life. Upamanyu Chatterjee’s Fifty Tales at Fifty, Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire, Saikat Majumdar’s The Firebird are in the pipeline. My all time favourite books are The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, The Stanger by Albert Camus and A Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Yes, a very eclectic mix. The list was long and i couldn’t choose, but i realized i couldn’t do away with these! I’m very fond of Sylvia Plath, as a poet apart from Eliot, Gibran and Neruda. I grew up on a dosage of the British Romantics and their lines are comfort food for me.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?
Urban Materialism will render the population a life that is increasingly meaningless. You see, a lot of people are turning to the arts now. Initially for a monthly poetry meet, say way back in 2004, a close knit community of 20 poets would turn up I remember. Now for our meets, 40- 50 people turn up. Many other groups are mushrooming up here and there. This is good I believe. The more you write the more you make others think. The more others think, the more they write. A beautiful community crops up that dwell upon ideas. As the famous saying goes, ‘Small people talk of other people, ordinary people talk of themselves and great people talk of ideas.’ Thus, I see a great future, you know.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
Teaching. Seriously, I adore teaching. Helping another understand something in a beautiful manner in which I see it, is exhilarating. Enabling them to achieve something they can’t, gives me a big high.
What is your message for the readers of our blogazine?
There are two worlds- one is the outside world which you can touch and the other is your mind space or mind temple. Enriching that is the greatest pleasure one can ever obtain.
Poetry written by Joie:
Love, To Un-love
I look into the dawn
Deep in your eyes
You tasted saffron
In my lips, soft
Like the nation…
A decade went by
In a night, it did
We were awake staring…
I was a girl, you were a boy
Secretly glancing and promising
Of no secrets in between…
I was crying to your arms
You were crying to my breasts
Then, we were laughing…
Love, to un-love you
Is to un-love me
And I’m selfish.
Prayer for My Son
He wraps around me, suddenly
I’m a tree trunk in dreams
And infant he, a creeper creeps
The sun gently sends its beams.
I’ll wither away one day
Into an artists canvas at dusk
And in green flourish, may he forever be
A precious glass bottle of musk.
I remember a life moving around
Protected in my stomach protruding
Empty I, often touch his head
Often it had nudged my inner lining.
Stirred somewhere deep, I said to the child
Touching my navel on an emotional tide
With a wild heart mother, in a wild wild world
This journey will be, a wild wild ride.
Heartbreak tastes like saccharine,
Lovers losing loving sheen;
Bitter remains in the morning after,
Demons drunk in draught and laughter.
The noon heat serenades the heart,
Betrayal left, having done its part;
Wrath laced words in conversations,
With vapour images and allegations.
Veneers cold and hard remain,
Love dives into all mundane;
Magic evaporates, lovers distraught,
But it’s deception and can be taught.
Trust and mirrors are not for repair,
Love unshared is solitaire;
Though crack lines last forever more,
Seguir amando, por favor.
Virgin is the stark white Shiuli
With that deep ochre core
Small and tight…
I can’t call Shiuli
By any other name
For the fear of raping the innocence
The sweet melodic resonance
Basking under the fleecy white clouds
Tender… Tender… Tender…
Ignorant of the darkness
That will mar it
Or pimp it out
Like prostitutes on a pavement ramp
With the hammers of the auctioneer
For some ravage savage eye to feast…
Shiuli is the little flower…
Thank god, she is not human!
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Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose