A muse is an endless source of inspiration. But when you read the poems of Madhura Banerjee, you realize that perhaps it might have worked the other way around in this case. This bright young beautiful mind easily inspires once you get to know her through her lovely poetry, painting and photography. Such is her versatility. And the pieces all fit in, when you realize that her name connotes sweetness as well!
Here is an exclusive chat with the published poet herself as she shares her inspiring journey with us.
I am 21 years old, and pursuing a career in Computer Science in parallel to my literary career. I will graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, in a month, with a BSc in Computer Science. Apart from writing, another humungous passion I have is travel. I love exploring cultures from around the world – to me, anything that is unfamiliar is wonderful.
The beginning of the journey:
To be perfectly honest, I wanted to be a writer ever since I wrote my first poem when I was eight years old. It was a dream then. After that, I started translating my dream one step at a time – I won my first national-level writing competition when I was eleven years old, and continued taking part in competitions and literary programmes all through my school life.
I started my blog, and started contributing to magazines, newspapers and literary websites. I started working towards publication when I started college. It was easiest, to me, to compile a manuscript of my poems, given how I had them in large volumes. With my book of poetry out, I am now working on a collection of stories.
The Creative process:
Whenever I write, I try and talk about issues which are larger than we are. I try and make them manifest in micro-societies like a family, or a group of people meeting at a travel destination. Travel is, hands down, the biggest muse I have. I also write passionately about feminism, cultural harmony, and the journey of adolescence which cannot be described enough.
The challenges along the way:
One challenge has to be reception. We need to be prepared to receive – if not negative criticism – less than the attention we might expect our work to receive. But, since writing is such a streamlined form of art, we should focus on inspiring the right audience. If we are lucky enough, we may find larger crowds relating to our work.
Another challenge that is very realistic in the industry is the attempt to publish a book of poetry. Sometimes, it may not stand well with some publishing houses, but that’s perfectly fine, because that still ultimately leads you to a point where things do work out, provided you have faith.
“I just love writing. I mostly do it for myself – it is the only way to tell your muses that you love them back.”
Sometimes, I may not receive the response I was hoping for, while at other times, and a piece may go viral. I know that there are at least some people who will always be eager to listen, and so, that gives me a push – kind of like how passengers make a simple train ride a journey.
Her recently published work:
The book is titled “A Tenant of the World”. It is a collection of poetry with heavy allusions to the places in India that I have travelled. The main aim of this collection is to portray the enormity of travel. You see, travel isn’t defined by the destinations and timings on our boarding pass. When you are on the top of a mountain, you realize that you may now have the borders of many countries at your feet, but don’t such demarcations surrender to the largeness of the world in front of you? When you ride the train from one place to another, you see so many different colours of life pass you by. Travel puts a shard of universality in you, and that is what I want to convey through my poems.
I call myself a tenant of the world, because my stay at a place may be temporary, but there is constancy in that kind of impermanence.
I want to write as much as I can. I want to live in different places and bear witness to their cultures. Perhaps, one day, I will publish an entire novel.
Madhura’s advice to budding writers:
When you are writing your book, your primary focus should be your manuscript. You have no control over the publishing industry or how the world will receive you. The most you can do is give your best and make sure that you live up to your expectations.
Here are some of her poetic compositions:
Lucknow in a poem
I will write you an afternoon sonnet,
In the language of dome-dust pigeons circling the minarets –
their age-naked skin the blotted red of old wounds –
In the broken verses of the wind caught in between kites –
taking the old man off his charpoy, on a cloud-pilgrimage up the kite-strings –
In the rhythm of winter dancing in from the morning-foamed highway –
riding wind-kissed motorbikes, its feet glimmering with sunbeams sewn into naagrai –
In the tune of shadows taking refuge behind the shutters of old market doors –
this pair of hand-me-down glasses, what visions it must hold!
In the silence of teardrop-shaped imambara windows –
dispensing the verse-long ghazals of lost times in the life-long mushaira of history –
I will write you Lucknow in a poem.
Peace Floats In
Peace floats in,
An upturned-boat-shaped spoonful of the sky,
From in between the wild autumn hair
Of red silk cotton trees –
Like how breathing
Through gaps in your teeth
Makes you whistle.
Peace floats in,
Holding hands with the wind and dry oak leaves,
Swallowing my bare feet
In a gold-hued quicksilver of sunshine,
Until the morning-dewed choral voices
Lead my breaths to empty
Into the throat of the harmonium.
Peace floats in,
Smelling of red dust and wet car tyres,
Gurgling like riverbeds with new rain;
In the shape of shoelaces undone and sitting
Against a vine-kissed ladder:
It floats in like winter, trailing earthy fingers
On dusty, naked feet.
Rabindranath Tagore Museum, Shantiniketan
A little bluegrass singer in my rucksack
Asked me to trace the colours of dawn –
Hinting, how the needled poplars fall all over the horizon,
Half-tainted off the sunrise palette;
Saffron flowers exhaled the autumn season
Into the ashen hem of sky-skirts, over the heads of trucks,
Retelling the old ballad of how the spindle of the night
Stole the purple satin tendrils from the hips
Of moon-veined Jammu-Srinagar highway,
To clothe the mountain gypsies who untie clouds from one another.
Beneath the overhanging yarn strings of autumn
Where the wasted silk patchwork of maroon leaves
Clothe the tier dust of yesterday’s travellers’ yesterday maps,
I make my own highway amidst the saffron fields –
Bluegrass cassette film spilling from my backpack,
A spindly cataract, down searchlights of midnight army convoys,
By the candle-lit windows of farmers –
So that, when the song plays in the plain-lands,
And the same phrase dances in a broken record, I will know,
Like sunrise, some repetitions are made to be music.
Autumn, Jammu-Srinagar Highway
You can find more of Madhura on her BLOG :
This young writer displays a sensitivity that is rare and rarer still is the eloquence she displays with her words. The Uncommon Box is delighted to be able to share with you the motivating story of this incredibly talented writer.
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