Monday, November 10, 2014

Life of a Poet Update Interview - Abin Chakraborty

Back in 2011, my friends, I interviewed the charming Abin Chakraborty, who writes at Abin's Literary World.  For a time, this poet's life grew so busy, with teaching and studies, that his pen went silent for a time. Lately, we at Poets United have been so pleased at his return to our Poetry Pantry. I quickly emailed Abin, to ask if he might honor us with an update interview, to let us know how his life has been since we last heard from him. Pour yourself a cup of chai, and settle in close. You won't want to miss a single word.

Sherry: Abin, I’m so happy to be meeting with you again, so we can get caught up on your life. In our interview in 2011, you were living in the Kolkata satellite community of Salt Lake. Are you still there? I hope your parents are still well?

Abin: Hello Sherry! It’s nice to be talking to you again. And it is a privilege to be featured like this. I am still living where I was, and my parents are doing well. In the mean time, I have also got married to my wife, Teesta, whom I have known since my school days.

Sherry: Wow! Congratulations!!!!! I am so happy to hear that. You both look so radiantly happy. Abin, when we last spoke, in 2011, you were pursuing your doctoral thesis as a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of English, University of Calcutta, and you were teaching at the prestigious Presidency College. Bring us up to date, my friend.

Abin: I have submitted my thesis and I am waiting for the process to complete, fingers crossed. I am also teaching as Assistant Professor of English Literature in a college.

Sherry: Wonderful! I am sure your thesis will be accepted. Let us know as soon as you hear, in the comment section of the Pantry, won't you? Will you talk a bit about where your love affair with poetry began? (I remember that your parents’ involvement in the world of theatre and literature influenced you from childhood onwards.) Give us a peek at your poetic journey.

Abin: I used to write rhymes from quite an early age, and I have enjoyed different forms of poetry for as long as I can remember. But the study of literature obviously elevated my interests and passions to a greater height, and prompted me to write as consistently as I could. 

Basically, my task as a poet is to respond to an urge within me to verbally frame something in an aesthetically pleasing manner. At times it is cathartic, therapeutic. At other times, it is simply the delight in the pursuit of beauty. Sometimes, it is also a kind of homage to the likes of Eliot or Yeats or Heaney, who have shaped my sensibilities so much.

Salt Lake skyline

Sherry: Fine influences all! How has your writing grown since our last interview?

Abin: It has become more versatile, I would like to think. My range of images, the choice of diction, verse form – all these things have evolved, owing to what I have read, either in print or online. I have tried to be more precise and compact. I have tried to explore other realms of experience than those essentially my own. But at the end of the day, it is only my readers who can judge how, if at all, I have evolved.

Salt Lake City

Sherry: Is there a poem or two you are especially pleased with that we might include here? Would you tell us a bit about each of them?

Abin: One poem that I would like to refer to is called Final Testimony. I was particularly pleased with myself for getting it out of my chest, as it emerged out of a lot of melancholy, brooding and frustration, without, according to me, being a waddle of self-pity. I would like to believe that the poem would speak to a lot of people, across the world, who have seen promises turn sour, dreams becoming nightmares, and hopes being burnt to ashes. I hope readers will be able to connect with that struggle with disillusionment and lost hopes. A conscious reader should also find in it several allusions and resonances s/he may enjoy.

Creaking panes now gather moss.
Outside, the shell now is torn to its ribs,
Opened to the battery of sunlight and hail.
Within, the plaster is loosened and falls,
Leaving my walls with melanomic skin,
Blotched with the cavities of mortars and bricks
Which shiver to its core, in the traffic rush of four,
Coughing as a consumptive could.

Groping my way through the cobwebs of halls,
I’m startled by voices of faces on walls
That long back had marched by my side.
But streets we had rumbled with such heady feet,
Now parcel our dreams to far other states,
Even beyond immigration desks.

Left with the sideshow of clowns among graves
We live out our days among logsheets of crime
In a land that is jammed in its wheels.

Should I have learnt that things would be thus?
Should I, after all the unlearnt lessons,
After so many blunders
Of so many proportions,
After all the aeons of promises forgot,
After so many, and so much more –
Should I have learnt longer back
To purge myself of hopeless hope
And drink the gall of hate and loss?

Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya
Glanirva Bhavathi Bharatha,
Abhyuthanam something something
Tadatmanam etc etc…

Questions whirl in vacant air
And leap and twirl and whisper by:
Was this the end for which we fought?

Ours was not a paltry lot.
Back in that midnighted tryst full of hope
We all did have far grander dreams.

I plod through the fields of ancestral bones,
And even as I wander among rubble smelling blood
I search for a light that shelters us all
From all those blasts that have bombed through my dreams
And charred into ashes with insatiate flame
Seeds of a time that unawakened lie.

Our hopes have bled for long –
What more from withered veins?

The courage of impossible hope,
The vision of life through undying dreams –
Still would I pray for these.

Suffer us not to stagnate and rot,
Even in these climes, these desert times
Amid the rocks and bones and dying grass.

I wish to believe to the last.

Sherry: That is an astounding write, Abin! I especially like "I plod through the fields of ancestral bones" and I, too, "wish to believe to the last".

Salt Lake 

Abin: In contrast, the other poem, ‘Sighs and Wings’, delves into a much more personal world. But what pleases me about this poem is how it combines personal emotional problems with financial and commercial terms, because in fissured bonds, it is often about keeping and settling scores, however petty they may be.

In the stillness of dawn, to sighs I've asked
Their lineage and destiny untold.
Flitting among shelves full of papers and books
They've whispered me tales full of petals now torn
Amid debris of silence that piles along walls
Or cleaves our bedsheets with barbed wire lines
In these our dawns full migraine and cough,
With concern now caught in its bluff.

Foreclosed with too many of dues still unpaid,
We scrape for the ounces of trust that'll loan
Perhaps a few bonds to us still.
Jumbled in fractions of aggregated dross,
We gasp among compounded interests of loss,
As idiots in ponzies of heart.

Spanning over ebbtide of dark deeper night,
Unbroken wings of cranes soar in flight.

Sherry: I love the title, and opening lines so much. And those closing lines are especially beautiful! Abin, you disappeared from Poets United for a time. Did you take a break from writing? It made me so happy to see your name back in the Pantry recently! We missed you!

Abin: I missed you too. But my schedule was far too pressing for a while, and I just didn’t have the time to link and read. Also, because of the hectic schedules I had to maintain, I went through a bit of a dry spell. It seemed as if I was repeating myself, and I needed to find a new gear. In the last few weeks, I hope I have rediscovered the spark.

Sherry: Yay! We are happy you are back, and writing again. How has the blogging world impacted your writing, Abin?

Abin: Enormously. It has introduced me to excellent, inspired artists who have opened new horizons of form, diction and verbal dexterity to me. Most importantly, for us academics, it is refreshing to realise that poetry is much more than what we theorise in classrooms or what is prescribed in syllabi. It is an essential part of daily existence for many, which academic jargons neither fathom nor explain. It is also something that most major publishing houses cannot recognise. I enjoy the opportunity to be connected with that ignored but vital experience.

Sherry: Me, too. Tell me again (just because I love the answer), where your favourite place to go is, in Kolkata.

Abin: It is College Street. It is the site of my college and my university, and those book-lined streets are a treasure-trove for bookworms like us. Also, it reminds one of a time when you studied, not because you had to score more marks, but because you simply wanted to bask in the radiance that came off the books, to shine in that glimmer of light that crossed from the page to the heart. It represents a lost world of multi-directional intellectual curiosity which seems obsolete nowadays. Each visit is an attempt to resuscitate those friendly spectres of nostalgia.

Sherry: I so love your description of the true love of books, and reading: basking in the radiance that comes off the page. That is it, exactly. A street full of bookstores! I would not emerge for weeks. What are your plans and dreams for the years ahead, my friend?

Abin: I hope to continue teaching and continue writing as best as I can.

Sherry: Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Abin: Thank you for all the warm support and inspiration for so long. I hope to remain a part of this community for many years to come.

Sherry: Thank you, my friend, for a lovely visit, and for bringing us up to date on your life. I have enjoyed it so much.

Wasn't this lovely, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you.


  1. Sherry, I love that you have caught up with Abim again after his last interview a few years ago. And Abim, what a wonderful photo of you and wife! You both look very happy. I am glad that you are still writing poetry, and it sounds like you are well on your way to that doctorate. As Sherry said, yes do let us know! I enjoyed the poems you shared, Abim! So good to be able to catch up with you again!

  2. Good to meet you Abin. I really enjoyed reading "Final Testimony" and I echo Sherry's words.

  3. Abin, both of your poems are gems. So glad that you are with PU once again. I'm looking forward to reading more of your poetry.
    Thanks Sherry for interviewing such an intelligent, yet humble and talented young man.

  4. It's nice to see you here Abin and thanks for the gift of these thought provoking poems ....and thank you Sherry for this interesting chat...

  5. Great interview Sherry! And nice meeting you Abin.

    I really liked the Sighs and Wings very much. Glad you find time to entertain your writing muse again.

    Congratulations on your marriage too!

  6. Thank you , Sherry!! An interview worth reading…and re-reading. :)

    Congrats on your marriage, Abin. Teesta looks beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your poetry journey. I've been following your work for years now and am so happy to read this interview…your poetry is diverse and amazing, Btw, I stay pretty close to Salt Lake (new town, to be precise). We must meet sometime.. :)

  7. Sorry to be so late coming in here, kids. I worked a double shift today and am just in........I did check in at noon, but things were quiet then. I am happy you enjoyed the interview. Abin, you have a most beautiful bride!!!! I so enjoyed getting caught up with you, it was such a pleasure. Panchali, how cool you two live not too far apart. It is so nice when blogging friends can meet in person!

  8. Thanks for the lovely interview with Abin C. Abin and Teesta , congrats.

  9. Thank you all for your generous comments. And thank you Sherry for featuring me like this. I am grateful for all the support.

  10. Another stellar chat between wonderfully gifted poets. I always feel that I am eavesdropping on the most interesting conversation. Thank you, Sherry, and thank you, Abin, for this delightful chance to get to know you.

  11. I enjoyed meeting you through Sherry's interview and getting to read your poetry for the first time. May you hear good news on your thesis and congrats on your marriage.

  12. Ha ha, it does always turn into the most interesting conversation, Kathleen, as it was with you and all the other wonderful poets I have had the pleasure of talking with. Abin, you are more than welcome. Always happy to shine a little light your way, my friend.

  13. Sherry I am just getting to know Abin and his work here...your description Abin about why we write poetry touched me greatly as I write poetry for those same reasons...I hope to continue to read more of your amazing poetry...and thank you Sherry for introducing me to Abin.

  14. Great to read about Abin, and I love that love of books and literature! Beautiful wedding photo; congratulations.


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