How has your childhood and upbringing equipped you to straddle the two allied spaces of academics and creativity?
Being a professor is my profession. I do not profess poetry, I feel restless till words as poems are born on the page.
As both my parents were teachers, teaching as a profession seemed to be an attractive career option. I enjoyed the summer vacations when all three of us were at home. My father was a Professor of Commerce and also a social activist who played tennis and the tabla and recited poems of Tagore. My mother sang Rabindrasangeet in community functions and also played the esraj. Both my parents were enthusiastic readers. My father wrote articles for newspapers. My parents encouraged me to write poems and short stories, which I did with gusto.
You are a professor, a poet, you have been the Dean of Arts at Calcutta University, you have been the coordinator of the Department of Research Studies in English, you have been a Fulbright Fellow and also the Chairperson of Commonwealth Writers Prize and so on. What have you enjoyed the most being and why?
I think being the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Eurasia region, was a unique experience. It gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with almost 100 novels written in English in one single year, published in the erstwhile British colonies such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan along with books from Britain. This juxtaposition was challenging and made the evaluation process very complex as well as fascinating. Apart from the wide span and the story-telling techniques used in the literary narratives by hundred different authors, being on the jury panel was also a lesson in political history. It has been the best learning experience in my life.
Even though most often there is no manifest utilitarian benefit in the pursuit of arts, poetry or writing in general, the best of minds acknowledge their importance. How do you see arts, poetry and writing benefit society?
Arts, poetry, writing can be described as being the integral components of Humanities. All three if used in a positive and progressive way, can open new windows and doors of perception, enabling a holistic understanding of the world.
How has your experience been in your sphere of activity as a woman? Is there at all a gendered specificity here?
As multi-tasking is integral to a woman’s life, balancing work, home and continuing to contribute creatively is all in the day’s work! I can rush from kitchen to laptop to mobile and can rush to the university to teach and on my way back home, a poem can well emerge as a first draft on my scribble pad!
What is your perspective on Rhythm Divine Poets hosting Woman Scream event in Kolkata?
I think gender sensitization is essential and crucial for as we see, despite such phenomenal technological progress, yet in terms of attitude towards women, we seem to be fixated in valorising medieval practices. So, I think Woman Scream touches my heart and mind.
Any message for our readers?
To be a writer, it is alas compulsory to be a good reader.
Dr. Sanjukta Dasgupta will be participating in the 6th Women Scream Poetry Festival, Kolkata Chapter.
Dr.Sanjukta Dasgupta is Professor and Former Head, Dept of English and Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Calcutta University. Recipient of the Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship and Fulbright Scholar in Residence grant, Australia India Council fellowship, Gender Studies fellowship grant, University of British Columbia, among others, she has has been invited to participate in conferences and teach/lecture at universities in the USA, UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. She was also the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize jury panel ( 2003-2005) and visited Melbourne and Malta in 2004-2005. In 2014 she gave the keynote address at the conference on Body and Identity held at the Pedagogical University, Krakow, Poland. In 2015, The Indian Institute of Advanced Study Shilma invited her as Visiting Professor and she delivered a series of talks on Tagore, Nation and Gender. She has been granted the Charles Wallace Trust UK Translator Fellowship 2016, to work on her project on translations of selected texts of Tagore and his daughter Madhurilata at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
She is a poet, short story writer, critic and translator and her published books are The Novels of Huxley and Hemingway: A Study in Two Planes of Reality, Responses : Selected Essays, Snapshots( poetry), Dilemma (poetry), First Language ( poetry), More Light (poetry)Her Stories (translations), Manimahesh( translation), The Indian Family in Transition(co-edited SAGE). Media, Gender and Popular Culture in India: Tracking Change and Continuity ( co- author, SAGE, 2012) ,Tagore: At Home in the World ( co-editor SAGE 2013), Radical Rabindranath: Nation, Family and Gender in Tagore’s Fiction and Films.( co-author, Orient Blackswan 2013), SWADES- Tagore’s Patriotic Songs ( translation, Visva Bharati Publication Division, 2013), Abuse and Other Short Stories (Dasgupta Book Company, 2013)Towards Tagore A collection of Essays (ed with introduction -Visva Bharati Publications, 2014)
Edited: Golpo Sankalan: Translated Contemporary Bengali Short Stories (Sahitya Akademi New Delhi)
Areas of Interest:
Postcolonial theory and texts, Colonial and Postcolonial women’s writing, Migration and Diaspora Studies, Literature and Film, Women and/in Indian Films, Translation studies, Creative Writing
Work in Progress:
Translation project for Visva Bharati,
Translation project on Nazrul Islam (Dhaka University)
Claiming Space: Australian Women’s Writing (Editor)
Interview Co-ordinated by Dr. Amit Shankar Saha for IWI
Dr. Amit Shankar Saha is an autodidact amateur in a world of career professionals. His love for literature and academics led him to obtain a PhD in English from Calcutta University. Since then he has been, at times, a creative writer, a postdoctoral researcher, a guest lecturer and a personal blogger. His website is http://sites.google.com/site/amitshankarsaha
For more information on Women Scream please visit the following pages:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/WomanScreamFest/?fref=ts
Rhythm Divine Poets in association with Art Fair celebrates the strength of woman on the occasion of woman’s month in March by promoting art and poetry festival in the city of Kolkata. To raise voice against violence on woman is the mutual goal. These associations will lead to Rhythm Divine coordinating Kolkata chapter of the global event called Woman Scream International Poetry and Art Festival on 26th March by Women Poets International Movement (Mujeres Poetas Internacional MPI) from the Dominican Republic, and coordinated by Jael Uribe, MPI’s President.
The Kolkata chapter is co-sponsored by Incredible Women of India, Manya Education Pvt Limited and The Princeton Review hosted by the Berlia family in Kolkata. Print partner SIBCO Overseas Pvt Ltd and Admakers Gift sponsored by Readomania
Radio Partner Radio One 94.3FM
Online Web media partner Incredible Woman of India and Calcalling
Online media and literary partner Readomania, Learning and Creativity and Being Bookworms