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?

NANDITA: Yes, I do consider literature to be an essential part of life because it is a medium which helps up connect with individuals, with the society and the world. Literature helps us emote our feelings and convey it to others in an accessible  manner. Literature has helped me learn and understand the larger truths and ideologies of life and living, help overcome my shortcomings share my opinions with others. It has enriched my critical thinking and has made me intellectually productive to capture my imaginations and provoke thoughts in a reader. Helped me heal some of my stress by transporting me to a surreal world of solace and solitude away from the humdrum of routine life. Since time immemorial literature has helped to record the true history of human race and humanity, its struggles, love, hatred, its ideas, its ideologies, its virtues, its vices, its beauty, its ugliness so for history literature is veritable and essential.

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?

NANDITA:  I got my primary education from Mount Carmel School, which had a decent library and our English teacher sister Digna laid the stepping stone for me to the literature world by suggesting books to read. At the age of 8 - 9 I moved on from fairy-tale books to more serious, substantial genre of books by authors like Charles Dickins, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Vladimir Nabokov, Leo Tolstoy, Fydore Dostoyevsky etc.  Participating in plays and recitation added to my interest in literature and its nuances. Besides English, books in Hindi and Bengali helped enrich my literary taste. Tagore’s poetries and stories touch my core and his songs render me spellbound, to an extent his works, motivated me to write and express my feelings in a simple way. I started writing in collage. I used to write in a diary and keep it a secret as I was not very confident about it, later my parents came to know and encouraged me. Unfortunately, this diary got misplaced while shifting to a new residence (my father having a transferrable job shifting was a regular feature in every 5-6 years). This disheartened me and I stopped writing for many years, got busy with my teaching profession and looking after the family. Sometime back one fine morning I decided to write again as words and thoughts started bubbling inside and needed an outlet.

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?

NANDITA:  Yes, definitely literature is a cognitive and aesthetic bridge between human and mother nature. Although this has been a topic of argument for long. Science since the time of Darwin has established a striking similarity and dependence between the two and how the disruption of the balance can be dangerous. There are many poets and writers whose writings are so profound and some so evocative that the readers are bound to see the nature in a new perspective. They have brought into notice the devastation, the changes over the time brought to the nature and the consequences of these alarming changes.

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

NANDITA:  I think that literature has always been influenced by the events and changes around. For ex-  in India the of literary course was changed and shaped by a synthesis of indigenous and foreign influences since ancient times. In early India, most of the arts had Vedic influences. After the birth of contemporary Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism arts flourished under the patronage of kings and emperors. The coming of Islam spawned a whole new era of Indian architecture and art and literature . Finally the British brought their own Gothic and Roman influences. At present literature and poetry is very much influenced by socio-economic disparity, politics, current affair, the social upheavals and the natural calamities. "Art for art's sake" is the usual English rendition of a French slogan, "l 'art pour l 'art', It opened the way for artistic freedom of expression in the Impressionist movement and modern art and literature. I believe artists should have the freedom to express themselves to their satisfaction, should be allowed to choose their subject and style. I feel patronized by the demands of the publishers or the reader  persons creativity can suffer.

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

NANDITA:  Yes, definitely information and technology has helped literature extend its dimension. Being a science graduate I know how technology has helped enrich my knowledge and interest in literature , which otherwise would have been restricted to the syllabus and the libraries with little choices . You have been able to send this questionnaire and I'm responding only because of technology. It is a boon helping portray and share work on different platforms and reach readers all over the globe which otherwise would not have been possible. It has helped me earn recognition and admiration and get my poems and stories published nationally and internationally. I'm indebted to information and technology. I believe it has helped literature to grow at a faster pace and writing- reading has found a broader space and a larger audience. Present day literature has become more exhortative and evocative as the day to day global incidents and affairs can be addressed and expressed instantly so the emotional connect is more profound and prudent. The 'Online communities’ feel closer, there is a sense of belonging, happy to have finally found people who share common interests easily. It has enabled people from the same walks of life exchange ideas, views, reviews and critical analysis of each other’s work. It also helped people work together as co-authors, co-editors etc. Space and spectacle of literature has got a total makeover.  But I feel not all is good, as with this change the previous essence of literature is somewhat fading. Those beautiful little endeavors of sharing and exchanging books, going to libraries, buying books with friends, long impatient wait for book fairs are now passé. Online purchases have become more convenient and time saving options but have lost the innocent excitement. Plagiarism, cyber bullying, derogatory comments causing mental trauma are also negative aspects.

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?

NANDITA:  Modernism is a recent period of world  literature and has its origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional ways of writing, in both poetry and prose. In broad terms, the period was marked by sudden and unexpected breaks with traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Even poetry has gone through this change .One of the big differences between traditional poetry and modern poetry is the use of form and structure. Traditional poetry is generally considered to adhere to specific forms, rhythms, and meters. Some examples of traditional poetry are sonnets, ballads, odes, and elegies. Traditional poems often rhyme (but not always) and they tend to have a specific and symmetrical structure Modern poetry is much more experimental in form. Therefore, modern poetry looks and reads quite differently from traditional poetry. Modernist and postmodernist poets (specifically in the 20th and 21st centuries) questioned the strict adherence of form and structure in poetic verse. So, there are some modern poems that are more like prose than poetry. Poetry being inseparable part of literature has itself undergone a change and helped people to understand and accept the changes in literature. It has widened the outlook and thought process of the readers.  But there never was a split or gap between the two periods to bridge. The word modern connotes a kind of continuation of  something traditional. A modern poet/artist/singer/painter---none can ignore continuation of the tradition. Most of the great Shakespearean plays have their source either on Plutarch or Hollinshed’s Chronicles.  It does not mean repetition of the past rather tradition and the modern go together; they coexist. It is absurd to severe the tradition from the modern. Modernism means an awareness of the presence of the past in the present.

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?

NANDITA:  Society influences a poet to an extent. Upbringing, childhood, social scenario do reflect or have reflected in writings of many poets but a poet's imagination sees no boundaries, no nationality, no religion, no caste, no creed . The ethos , the ethics and the values inculcated is almost same in every nation and  I keep in mind all of these while writing. I don't think nationality has any say in writing. Earlier the readers were localized and only few recognized poets were read internationally, but now with the advancement of communication and technology poets can reach national and international readers easily. It depends on the capability and not nationality that a creator finds his/her niche in the world. I don't think nationality helps or hinders. Nationality never comes in the way of a talented person to flourish

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?

NANDITA: Yes there are many examples of literary and creative soul's  being born out of the turmoil in their lives . Pain, agony ,love ,deception ,makes a person more perceptive and imaginative. He/she trying to deal with the crisis and channelizing the attention or potential in a different creative direction have flourished in literature. But this does not imply that when at peace a person is less perceptive and imaginative. Most literary personalities write out of passion

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?

NANDITA:  With the change of our wants and desires to live up to the standards of the society, somewhere we have become so engaged that time for serious literature is difficult. people generally adhere to fast and convenient access to that much knowledge of literature that help survive or excel in life. And in this situation information and technology comes handy, thus literature influenced by consumerism. But at the end of the day it's literature in different forms, be it television, books, newspapers that helps a person de stress and rejuvenate oneself.  So, we see without literature life is like a quiver without arrows. No entertainment- no progress

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?

NANDITA: I'm not a feminist, I don't advocate  reservation and gender equality . I think women are at par with men in all spheres of life now but definitely would like our society to pay attention to the plights of unprivileged women. There are a few pockets where superstition and malpractices continue, I think in these areas Literature can help. Street plays, theater, interactive sessions, recitation, special educative serials on television help spreading awareness. For the educated people newspapers, magazines, books are integral part. Literature help people to understand the finer aspects of religion, culture and the ideologies of life. It helps to reform the thought process of a person and widens his/her horizon.

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?

NANDITA:  With the advent of technology and the triumph of immediacy , a consensus has grown in few literary and academic quarters that literature is in intensive care or at death's door . The diagnosis though is that the reason is not irrelevance to old literature in today's world but a failure in nerve and imagination in the face of immediacy and market temptations. The digitization and growth of e-book audience has resulted in the change of scenario, from future of literature to the  literature of the future . I think the value has changed from ability to challenge to the ability of reinforcement. For literature to remain healthy and thrive in today's environment it is very essential to ensure that literature does not change its values or buckle under the pressure of tailored needs of information , technical advancement and immediacy.  Literary world should not be tempted by the present consumerism.                                      

NANDITA SAMANTA:  Resident of Kolkata. A science graduate. Ex- teacher science (Daisies School Kurseong, Darjeeling). A trilingual poetess (English, Bengali, Hindi) and short story writer. Painting and dancing are other two passions besides writing.

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



1 comment:

  1. excellent interview.the presentation is superb.my regards to editor.


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