I love to talk with people around. I wish I could speak with all my readers. I dream to interact with the poets; poets of all possible ages! They breathe poetry that I consider my existence. I came across Tanmoy Bhattacharjee lately, and I found him extremely enthusiastic about poetry. Tanmoy is twenty-six-year old; he is a promising poet, and I’m sure he will emerge as a major voice in Indian English poetry sometime in near future. He has to hone his poetic renderings with linguistic spontaneity, I think, and let me wish him the very best for his upcoming collection of verses under the title Heights of Life, which is expected to release in October, 2015.
Kiriti Sengupta: Celebrated Bengali poet Bibhas Roy Chowdhury once commented on the work of the translator. He said, “A competent translator suffers the agony of a surrogate mother.” What does it take to make a debut as a published author?
Tanmoy Bhattacharjee: I personally believe that a poet is always a translator. A translator’s lookout stems from being a good poet. Literally what a translator does to the poet, a poet, in a similar way, does the same to his thoughts. This is truly the surrogacy of thought.
It feels good, without an iota of doubt, to be reckoned as a published author. If everything what is written through pen and paper is a piece of literature, then all human beings are authors. Regarding publishing of an author-piece or being shy is subject to a no-say. To me, it is no different than the feelings of an unable-to-express father to a new-born. It underwent a torrent of stress and strain to make it possible at last. But it was not that easy to make it to the journals, and I was rejected with my poems many a good time. It taught me unuttered that a good profiling is what I need to grace the page of an international journal of well repute. Thereafter, I built my will to approach a publisher, for my individual work. But being a small-town fellow it was hard to find any, In Kolkata. Few people appeared with their tall talks, especially about vanity publishing vs traditional publishing. However, finally Hawakaal Publishers believed in my ideas and approved me of working under their banner. But that was not all. Had my publisher, Shri Bitan Chakraborty not been very kind and tolerant in responding to all my queries, frequent calls of worry, sometimes my ‘to be or not to be’ stand, then Heights of Life would not have been reached to many hands. I would simply opine, in my case, ‘justice delayed’, but not ‘denied’.
Kiriti: Distinguished Indian English poet Sudeep Sen has remarked on Heights of Life. He has mentioned your “wide-eyed excitement to the world around and within” you. Could you substantiate his observations?
Tanmoy: The syntactical tweaks of his expression seems interesting. Nevertheless, I would say only ‘as many men so many minds.’ As long as my work is out off my hands, it is wide open to be peeled off. Being a responsible reader and a poet, Mr. Sen has recorded his observation which is true if I have made any justification to Aristotle’s dictum, “Know thyself.” Anyway, Poetry is a best refuge, I believe so, for those who want to see the unseen and to know the unknown through the ‘wide-eyed’ lens of a poet.
Kiriti: Worldwide, poetry has a limited market. Aren’t you afraid of being cornered as a poet?
Tanmoy: Here I would seek the help of responsible publishers to spread poetry to different quarters of the globe. So that it becomes ‘cornered’ then too (the new sense in an old bottle). Poetry can never have a short limit. And then, poetry is even greater than poets. Here, I will go gaga over certain issues. It is said that breaking of heart makes a man wise. So do they find shelter in poetry (basically poetry of calf-love). Although a point of debate, whether people opt for poetry just for it is easy to make rhyme, or it does tick their mind and nip easily. T.S. Eliot remarked somewhere that, before 25 we all are poets. But who attempts poetry after that margin, he is really a poet. My point of reference is, poetry should not be generalized. It is not only the weapon of protest, it propagates beauty, reality, love and life too. Publishers should have to step fast to have a good pick. Only lacking in a good circulation, many serious poetry-writers go lost. I am only bothered about the messages that a poet with his poetry conveys. By all means it should go beyond the border of limitation.
Tanmoy & Tea!
Kiriti: Here is a tough task. How would you like to differentiate your poetry from that of other poets of your age?
Tanmoy: I have not yet read all the poets of my age, therefore, I am reluctant to be biased on others’ stand. We all want to be different, and this is where we fall all the same. Two words can only be nearest in meaning, not similar. Likewise, ideas might be chanced upon by many heads, but ways of expression will certainly be unlike. My reliance in my poetry grows from the fact that it mirrors my being and having, without any galvanization.
First banner that Tanmoy is proud of!
Kiriti: Heights of Life is being published by Hawakaal Publishers, Kolkata. How has been your experience working under their banner?
Tanmoy: This is my debut attempt in poetry, and about a publishing house too. Although I think I have served the query well in my very first answer, but again, I can only be assertive of my Publisher (Shri Bitan Chakraborty), who by being cordial and strategic (time to time) helped my reverie in becoming actualized wish. He wanted me to excel at the very first shot. Therefore I placed my plans, and he rectified them, when needed, with his scrupulous consideration. To best express what my poems intend to hint at, we resolved to project few illustrations. One my well-wisher cum friend (Modhura Bandyopadhyay) stepped in the scene with her wondrous paintings, which I must say, truly turned my poems verbose. One thing I ought to mention is, I don’t think any publisher would work tirelessly to make the cover page and would go for 4 to 5 times’ editing, which Bitan-da did only to make me smile with satisfaction.
Kiriti: Well-known critic and poet Mihir Vatsa thinks his “study of literature as an academic subject” has shaped his “aesthetic plus critical consciousness.” You did your Master’s in English literature. Do you think the same way?
Tanmoy: Just as a good sense of culture and beauty is not always borne of a standard heritage, similarly the excellent benchmarks of personality like aesthetics, criticality, and creativity do not always come under the purview of any academic discipline. These are all about how one sees and reacts to the world around. I only am grateful for having had the opportunity to study English Literature, the reason of which I came in contacts with some literary scholars who genuinely helped shape my views and values more concrete. All my thoughts and ponderings come directly from the realization of ‘death’, which I found as a predominant theme in many texts there. Arnold’s poetry, Sidney’s critique, Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, Beckett’s ‘Godot’, novels by Greene, Wilde, Derrida and Lacan’s theory sincerely turned me mature, at least to the crude reality and acceptance of ‘Life’. It might be a worthy but unconscious fact behind the title of my book.
Kiriti: You were born and you have been brought up in Raiganj, a small town that is far away from the city lights. Do you think your upbringing has, in any way, influenced your poetry?
Tanmoy: One cannot ignore his root, his origin. So is my stand like. The poems in Heights of Life are composed mostly through musing at my study room, in Raiganj. So small-township neither narrowed down my confidence, nor could it strangulate my voice and vision. But, if I differ, in all possible way this is due to my surroundings and its impact. Anything that accelerates my pen is only my subtle eyeshot. Again, I don’t think I would have an extra amount of confidence writing in the lap of city lights.
Kiriti: Name your favorite Indian English poets, and if you could explain your stand.
Tanmoy: Other than the academic perusal (can’t help supporting Debjani Chatterjee), I ought to mention the name through whose poetry I understand the charm of lucidity. She is Sharmila Ray. I do desire to read more of her poems, and discover the essence of her poetics. Besides, I find it worth mentioning the poets who represent the Indian panorama well, are Sudeep Sen, Vinita Agarwal, Gopal Lahiri, Vihang. A. Nayak, Sonnet Mondal and of course, Bob D’Costa. But for applying any encomium about the spheres they cling to, I would only resonate my mind – “Miles to go….”
Kiriti: Titir (Titir Banerjee) has been a major inspiration in your literary endeavors, as you have mentioned in the “introduction.” Readers would like to know more of Titir and her influences in your life.
Tanmoy: Effort is useless until it forms fruitful action. And I think Titir has come in my life as a catalyst to brush up my dormant dreams. Titir is a postgraduate scholar in English Literature, and is currently working in a school as an Assistant Teacher. She used to be the patient listener of all my scribbling, sometimes hogwash ideas as well. It is she who is my first mentor of poems and poetics. Above all, she believed in me sometimes, when probably I didn’t.
Kiriti: Are you an ambitious poet? I would love to hear your dreams and aspirations.
Tanmoy: I don’t know how you would name it, but I only want to reach out to more and more people. I fervently believe that I have a message in my poems for all of them; the messages that may serve their want, that may eradicate their afflictions. I aspire to perspire. Nestling in my heart the wish to serve as an inspiring teacher, I just want to keep on working — writing, for myself, for the cause of humanity.