Monday, October 20, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - Maniparna Sengupta Majumder

Today, my friends, we are flying once again to India. I cant get enough of the beauty, color and culture of that beautiful ancient country. We are being hosted today by Maniparna Sengupta Majumder, who writes at Scattered Thoughts. Maniparna is also an artist and photographer, so we will enjoy seeing some of the beautiful sights of her area, through her eyes.

Sherry: Maniparna, I’m so happy to be interviewing you. Let’s start all the way back. Where did you grow up? Did you fall in love with words as a child?


Maniparna: Hi Sherry, first of all thanks a lot, as it is a great honor for me to get featured in the “Life of a Poet” section of Poets United.

Born and brought up in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and being somewhat introvert as a child, I always used to find myself comfortable amidst nature. Roaming around lazily in a garden and watching various insects and flowers were my favorite pastime. My maternal grandfather’s house had a large patch of greenery attached to it and that was my very own heaven.

Drenched flower

I wrote my first poem when I was in 3rd standard. It was a small poem, a few childish lines describing a sunflower.

Me, age 8

Sherry: That's adorable. And so were you, when you were eight! So cute! Paint us a picture of your life today, Maniparna.

Maniparna: Kolkata is my hometown and in spite of all the shortcomings, I love my city. It’s no different from a typical Indian metropolis, over-populated and congested. The pollution level sometimes becomes asphyxiating.

Still, Kolkata oozes a warmth which is tangible…..a city very much alive and vibrant. Once you can feel it, you’re sure to fall for the vibe. 

Me, with my parents and sister

Being the elder of two sisters, I was very much pampered by my parents. My younger sister, Sreeparna, now lives in Mumbai and is my best friend.

Me, as a bride

I met my husband when I was only 15! It was a love at first sight for both of us and after 6 years of what can be called a charming courtship, we got married. I continued with my studies after my marriage. My family is now complete with me, my husband and our son, Akaash.

I started my career as a teacher. But later my interest got diverted and I changed my profession. Now I’ve a small business in the Indian Stock Market. I’ve genuine interests in various fields which has helped me a lot to develop my business.

Sherry: You have a beautiful family! And you were a lovely bride! Tell us about your writing journey. What do you love about poetry?

Maniparna: I’m very irregular about my writing. (I’m a laid back sort of person who performs best when under pressure.) Sometimes, even a sudden change in the weather, like the first downpour announcing the arrival of the monsoon, inspires my muse to scribble down a few lines. It actually depends on my mood which keeps on changing.

But Mother Nature is always a great source of inspiration for me. I find my peace and solace in Nature.

A village road through the forest

I do write fiction as well. I love the twists and turns of the plots and like to let my imagination fly high while constructing a story. But poetry is my first love.
Poetry is my passion. Several words weaved along to exude a beautiful feeling…that’s poetry to me. I can raise my voice against all odds through poetry. Poetry, as a literary form, is omnipotent.

Words, enmesh themselves
With my unseen dreams
I wait, to see them born
Out of ashes, like a Phoenix
And…poetry is formed.

My sketch of Rabindranath Tagore

It is actually impossible to single out any poetry or poet as my most favorite. The list is endless. Just want to mention one, “Where the Mind is Without Fear” by Rabindranath Tagore, who, I think needs no introduction.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

The Taj Mahal,
one of the 7 wonders of the world

Sherry: Tagore is marvelous. And your sketch is beautiful. You are very talented. Is there one person you would say has had a significant impact on who you are today, and/or on your writing?

Maniparna: My parents, especially my father, has always encouraged me a lot. My sister and my husband are harsh critics and thus have helped me to improve. Their inspirations matter a lot to me, they patiently bear my tantrums and are great friends.

Without the love and support of my family, life would have been much more difficult. And I consider myself fortunate enough for having some great friends.
Me at Puri Sea Beach, Odisha

Sherry: Do you have two poems written by you that you’d like to include here? Can you tell us a bit about how each poem came to you?

Maniparna: I wrote this poem, “Togetherness’’ on our 12th marriage anniversary for my husband.

The passion in your eyes, the ambrosial touch
Of your lips, acute and intense,
Being loved is such a bliss.
A million roses in my heart, I savor the smell of love
Breathless I become as I feel
Symphony in your touch.

My senses are all conjured up by your amorous words
Words, appear as rainbows in my sky
Warmth of desire making me shy.
The 'too often profaned' word has ultimate power
To stir one's soul, to make one feel
Heaven's just here on my windowsill.

Sherry: How beautiful! So wonderful to feel that way after twelve years.

Sunrise in the sea - 
beach of Alibaugh, Maharashtra

Another one, this was written on the occasion of Women’s Day, I sincerely believe that man and woman, are the Yin and Yang. They perfectly complement each other and the existence of one is impossible without the other.

But the hapless condition of women and the discrimination they face every day hurt me to the core. I dreamt of a day when they would be loved and honored by all and most importantly would be given equal rights as their male counterparts.

The anger fumed inside me,I kept silent
The rage made me feverish
I coiled my emotion
I've been taught , like a tree,
I should spread myself
Giving shade to everyone
Shouldn't forget my roots
Never utter a word
When somebody plucks flowers
Or leaves just for fun.
My boughs should bear fruits.
I dreamt of a day
When my silence
Will speak for me,
“Victory,thy name is woman”

I love to write Haiku, the Japanese poetry form of which Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Issa and Shiki are unparalleled masters.

I would like to include this haiku of mine.

bare branch, the last leaf
falling in love with the ground
autumn crow soars up


Gulmohor flower

Sherry: I love your haiku! So perfect. And I applaud the message in your poem about women. It is long past time. You have posted some stunning photography on your site, on your photography page. Is your love of photography linked to your love of travel?

Maniparna: Yes, I like to travel, to explore places unknown. I love to click photos to hold the good memories. I cherish those moments of happiness and pure bliss.

Sherry: Tell us about some of the places you have seen. What is the most favorite place you have traveled?


Maniparna: Last year, we went to Zuluk, a small hamlet that resides amongst the serene, beautiful landscape of the Eastern Himalayas. The scenic beauty of Zuluk is mesmerizing. With a height of about 9800 ft. it’s still very virgin and the population is sparse. It is an abode of peace. I can say that this trip was one of the most memorable ones.


I like to go to small, unknown places where there is no jostling of tourists and where I can rejuvenate myself from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Where we stayed in Zuluk

I’ve travelled almost the whole of Southern India, some of the Northern and Central states.

Sherry: Zuluk looks very beautiful. I, too, prefer small, undeveloped places. What place have you not yet seen that you long to travel to?

Maniparna: Egypt. I long to go to Egypt. The land of pharaohs, pyramids and the Nile.

Sherry: I hope you get there. What other things do you enjoy when you’re not writing, working or taking photos?

Maniparna: I like to draw pictures or listen to music, classical, rock, folk, Bollywood filmy songs ….just anything that is pleasing to my ears.

Besides, I’m an avid reader. Reading gives me immense pleasure, and here also there is no particular preference. Just a good book from any genre with a cup of coffee. Life becomes beautiful within a minute.

Gateway of India, Mumbai, at night

Sherry: I so agree! Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Maniparna: Yes! Poets United is a wonderful online community of poets. I remember the day when I posted here for the first time. So many poets read my poetry and commented….I was really overwhelmed. I got to know a number of talented poets from here and their writings have inspired me.

Finally, Sherry, thanks a lot to you for creating such a beautiful community and for bestowing this honor on me.

Sherry: I cant take the credit, Maniparna. Poets United was created by Robert Lloyd back in 2010. I joined that spring and, like you, was amazed when people came and read and commented on my poems. I credit the members of Poets United for bringing my writing back to life. 

When Robb moved on to other things, Mary stepped in to keep the site going, and it has been my pleasure to be part of this wonderful community.

Thank you, Maniparna, for this wonderful visit to you and your beautiful country. I have enjoyed every minute, and am sure our members have as well.

There we have it, my friends, another wonderful visit to a beautiful poet on her journey. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poetry Pantry #223

Loredana Donovan's Photos of Paestum ruins in Salerno, Italy

Greetings, Poets!

Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry.  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.  I just don't GET people who link and enjoy visits, yet don't bother to visit others -- even those who spent time making comments on their poetry.

This week I am sharing  Loredana Donovan's photos of Paestum ruins in Salerno, Italy.    According to Wikipedia, the ruins of Paestum are notable for their three ancient Greek temples which are in a good state of preservation. The oldest of these temples, the First Temple of Hera (pictured third from top) was built in 550 B.C.  Check Wikipedia for detailed information.  Looks like a most fascinating place. If anyone else has photos from their area or interesting photos from somewhere you have visited, I'd like to feature them!  Let me know.

Be sure to visit Poets United Monday to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see there is always a  great turn-out for Midweek Motif.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!  (And, ha, perhaps many of you have noticed that if you look at one week's prompt Susan gives  a clue about the following week's prompt as well, so you can get a head start.)

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade features on "I Wish I Had Written This" or  "The Living Dead."

Again:  I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

Ode to Fanny
By John Keats (1795-1821

Physician Nature! Let my spirit blood!
O ease my heart of verse and let me rest;
Throw me upon thy Tripod, till the flood
Of stifling numbers ebbs from my full breast.
A theme! a theme! great nature! give a theme;
Let me begin my dream.
I come — I see thee, as thou standest there,
Beckon me not into the wintry air.

Ah! dearest love, sweet home of all my fears,
And hopes, and joys, and panting miseries, —
To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears
A smile of such delight,
As brilliant and as bright,
As when with ravished, aching, vassal eyes,
Lost in soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze!

Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast?
What stare outfaces now my silver moon!
Ah! keep that hand unravished at the least;
Let, let, the amorous burn —
But pr'ythee, do not turn
The current of your heart from me so soon.
O! save, in charity,
The quickest pulse for me.

Save it for me, sweet love! though music breathe
Voluptuous visions into the warm air;
Though swimming through the dance's dangerous wreath,
Be like an April day,
Smiling and cold and gay,
A temperate lilly, temperate as fair;
Then, Heaven! there will be
A warmer June for me.

Why, this, you'll say, my Fanny! is not true:
Put your soft hand upon your snowy side,
Where the heart beats: confess — 'tis nothing new —
Must not a woman be
A feather on the sea,
Sway'd to and fro by every wind and tide?
Of as uncertain speed
As blow-ball from the mead?

I know it — and to know it is despair
To one who loves you as I love, sweet Fanny!
Whose heart goes fluttering for you every where,
Nor, when away you roam,
Dare keep its wretched home,
Love, love alone, his pains severe and many:
Then, loveliest! keep me free,
From torturing jealousy.

Ah! if you prize my subdued soul above
The poor, the fading, brief, pride of an hour;
Let none profane my Holy See of love,
Or with a rude hand break
The sacramental cake:
Let none else touch the just new-budded flower;
If not — may my eyes close,
Love! on their lost repose. 

Like many of us in English-speaking countries, I first encountered Keats at school. I had good English teachers who read verse beautifully, so I loved the Odes and for decades agreed unquestioningly with the view that Keats was the most brilliant of the Romantic poets — or would have been, if his promise had not been cut off at the age of 25 by his tragic death from tuberculosis.

It was quite a surprise, then, when I looked for a Keats poem to share with you, to discover that I don't much like his writing now! This must make me some kind of tasteless idiot, since he is still considered a very important poet by people much more scholarly and famous than me. But he suddenly seems old-fashioned, in ways which not all poets of past eras do.

I found many of the poems over-sentimental. Well, perhaps that's a fault of youth, which he would have outgrown. I also found the thees, thous, wouldsts etc. irritating, and had trouble tolerating what now seems to me his frequent long-windedness.

 'Get to the point!' I want to yell, rather than following his leisurely turns of thought.  Oh dear!

I chose this poem because the intensity of his frustrated passion gives it pace and urgency.  

I guess many of you know something of Keats's life, and his romance with Fanny Brawne, from the movie Bright Star. You can find more details from Wikipedia (link on his name, above). 

There is a longer, even more detailed and literary biography at The Poetry Foundation. And, just when you've accepted that he died because of medical ignorance and/or the stress of his work being unfairly criticised, here is an article by a new biographer, saying it was all his own fault!

HIs portraits are contradictory too, some showing him as romantically handsome, some as a bit gormless, and still others as frankly fat. So I used the death mask, as that must surely be accurate.

Perhaps you won't agree with me about his work. (Few people do.) You can check it out for yourself, or refresh your memory, at PoemHunter. Or you can find many books of his poetry, as well as letters and biographies, at good old Amazon.

Oh, wait — I did find one exceptional poem which still doesn't disappoint. I didn't share it here as it is very well-known and I like to try and give you something which might be new to you. But do read (or re-read) it anyway. It's true — he really did have brilliant promise after all. Unlike some of his other poems, I think On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer is a masterpiece.