SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think literature is really essential in our life? If so why? In your opinion, what is the true relationship between life and literature? What is your own experience? And how does this relationship relate to the general history of mankind?

LILY:  Literature is closely intertwined with human existence. It is the result of the finer aspects of life. Art, music and drama all conglomerate into the exquisite fabric of literature. Since the first drum beats in the jungle of Africa, the first lyrical note of the flute in the hills and the first passionate love ditty crooned by a man, literature has existed. I personally feel I would not be an iota of the person I am had it not been for the innumerable charms of literature.

SONGSOPTOK: We would like to know the beginning of the story, i.e. how your upbringing contributed to your own writing. Who were your favorite literary figures during the early period of your life? How they have paved your early routes in literature?

LILY:  My maternal grandmother’s singing of Punjabi folk songs and the resonant sound of the Sikh scripture were my first brush with the wonders of pure literature. Shakespeare, Hardy, the romantic English poets Yates, Keats and Shelley as well as Munshi Premchand’s writings left deep imprints on me. Bhai Veer Singh, Amrita Preetam and Shiv Batalvi in Punjabi moved me. My father’s recitation of all the classic Urdu poets enthused me to try my hand at writing.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think that literature also bridges the human world with the Mother Nature? As well as with the present time of our surroundings?

LILY: When an autumn leaf rustles down on a concrete pavement, literature gets a new shot in the arm each time. When typhoons devastate towns the pain gives birth to the choicest works of literature. Literature may not be the spitting mirror image of life; it is in fact a more refined and artistic reflection of the current life and times. Literature and life are interwoven as the warp and weft of an expensive Turkish carpet.

SONGSOPTOK: What are the main events that you think are the major issues that have influenced present day literature?

LILY:  The invention of the internet is the foremost in my opinion. Global poets and artists meet on a single platform. The interaction of their varied thoughts and forms gives rise to superlative works of literature. What one feels in a remote village in Kashmir affects the mind of a lady sitting in front of her computer thousands of miles away. A moving verse can do that.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature has 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?

LILY:  I am utterly and entirely awestruck by the presence of the web. Personally it has brought me international recognition and thousands of friends the world over all due to my humble attempts at writing my heart out.

SONGSOPTOK: Now if we try to understand tradition and modernism in literature, do you think poetry can play a pivotal role relating the two? If so, how? What are your opinions about the role of the poet in bridging the gap, if any, between tradition and modernism?

LILY:  This is the most relevant question of our times. I find myself often at loggerheads with my own psyche as I struggle to reinvent my readings of classic poetry into the present day so called modern forms of literature. I don't think there is anything quite like traditional or modern; it is purely how one chooses to express oneself. The idiom might be new, the forms might be fresh but human feelings remain constant.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that society is the key factor in shaping you up as a writer. What about your own country? What is the influence of your country & your culture in your writing? Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality?  Is it an incentive or an obstacle for becoming a truly international writer?

LILY:  I do not think that being of a certain nationality can ever be an obstacle in ones ability to express oneself. Having said that I believe my upbringing and surroundings have hugely influenced my writings. Being Indian has always been a feather in my cap. The diversity of my culture has added the golden thread to the tapestry of my writings. I have a wealth of tradition to fall back on. That is a blessing and it can only help me in getting international recognition.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace? Why? Are you a protagonist of "art for art's sake"? Can you please present us with your point of view?

LILY:  I do believe with Shelley that “ Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”. A tormented soul gushes forth lava from a gargoyle. The blazing volcano of a grief stricken heart spouts wisdom. A zen like envelope encases such writings. I do not believe in art for art’s sake. The emotion has to be powerful enough to jolt reader or listener.

SONGSOPTOK:  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? And do you think poetry or literature can solve any problems in our everyday life? Why should we adhere to it?

LILY: I believe the pen is mightier than the sword even though it may sound like a cliché. Wars have never solved any issues only complicated them. A poignant message of peace in alphabets soaked in love can move mountains is my belief. What is propagated or sold as art and literature these days is not all what it should be. There are plastic feelings, metallic emotions and hollow words. Plagiarism has no conscience. When we can switch channels at the push of a button, it's difficult to read reams of paper or glance through words with patience. Let's face it, we live in a quick fix world. A one line  poem may have a better chance of being read and assimilated.

SONGSOPTOK:  Are you a feminist? Can literature play any decisive role in feminism at all? What role can literature play to make our lives better on a day to day basis?

LILY:   I am not a feminist. I firmly believe that women are the superior gender. We are beefing up the brawn as well if that is any consolation to my friends. I also believe with Rudyard Kipling that the female of the species is more deadly than the male. Literature can effectively throw up the offal from our innards for the world to peruse. Literature is fearless and incorrigible.

SONGSOPTOK: Now if we want to look ahead, do you think that there is an oncoming crisis for literature in general? Will it bring new dimensions in our life ahead? Or do you think that the future of literature is not as bright as it should be?

LILY:  Literature is at a crossroads. It is an interesting place to be in. It can only get better and more effective for the written word is deeply embedded and engraved. It is as effective as the inscriptions on our tombstones. It is the final salute to a tottering world. Literature will squirm and struggle to finally emerge a fascinating version of its former self. Literature can never be bogged down. Thank God for literature!

LILY SWARN recently won the Reuel International Prize for Poetry 2016 and was recognised by the World Union Of Poets  as Global Poet Of Peace and Universal Love.She is a post graduate in English from Punjab university and has taught degree classes. A gold medalist and a university colour holder for dramatics and histrionics, she was the editor of the college magazine and also wrote middles for newspapers! Poetry as passion blossomed after her young son's sudden demise in 2013.  She writes with a poignant touch in English, Hindi and Urdu .Her weekly column Cantonment Calling is highly  popular .Lily's  poems can  be read in many anthologies and  have recently been translated into Italian too. .She is widely read in the internationally famous Atunispoetry.com and Poem Kubili . Her work has  been recognized as explosive, outstanding and powerful by different  poetry groups and they often turn their spotlight on it . Her Face book profile has many followers..Married to an army veteran she lives in Chandigarh , India .

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen



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