Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Dr Santosh Bakaya 

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

A Skyful of Baloons Santosh Bakaya 02 (1)

Dr Santosh Bakaya

Dr. Santosh Bakaya:  Recipient of the International Reuel Award for Writing and Literature [2014] for her long poem Oh Hark!
and the Universal Inspirational Poet Award, 2016, [conferred jointly by Pentasi B Friendship Poetry group
and the Ghana Government May 2016] has been universally acclaimed for   her poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi,
Ballad of Bapu.  [Vitasta Publishers, Delhi, 2015]

Some of the other awards that she has received are, The INCREDIBLE WOMAN OF THE YEAR 2015 award [ The Incredible women of India]
AAGMAN TEJASWANI AWARD 2017, [AAGMAN GROUP],
LAASYA 2017 AWARD- A winning woman with beauty, happiness and grace [SUBH Power collage Consultants],
Bharat Nirman Award for Literary Excellence 2017.
She is an academician – poet -essayist – novelist- Ted speaker whose three earlier mystery novels, written as Santosh Magazine
[The Mystery of the Relic, The Mystery of the Jhalana fort and The Mystery of the Pine cottage] for young adults,
were very well received in the earlier 2000s.
Her other books are:
Where are the lilacs? [Poetry, Authorspress, 2016]
Flights from my Terrace, [essays, Authors Press, 2017]

Under the Apple Boughs [Poetry, Authorspress, Delhi 2017]
A Skyful of Balloons [Authorspress, Delhi 2018]
Extensively interviewed and featured in e-zines, world-wide,
she has contributed to  many national and international anthologies.

Translated into many languages, her poems have figured in the highly commendable category in Destiny Poets,
a U. K based poetry website, and appeared in Café Dissensus, learning and Creativity- Silhouette magazine,
in Incredible women of India, in Mind Creative [an Australia based e-zine] In Brian Wrixon’s anthology,
Episteme, [Mumbai], in Setu – a bilingual e-zine published from Pittsburgh,
Our poetry Archive , Songsoptok ,  Raven – cage.
She – The Shakti , Tuck Magazine
and Spillwords. com, where she was  the September – October Author of the month winner, 2017 ,
and also nominated as Author of the year 2017.
Many of her poems are also part of Kiew , an anthology of tree Poems[ ed Virginia Jasmin Pasalo, Philippine]

Her short stories figure in Silhouette 1 and 2, Defiant Dreams, Mock, stalk and Quarrel.
She has co-edited UMBILICAL CHORDS: AN ANTHOLOGY ON PARENTS REMEMBERED,
[Global Fraternity of Poets, Gurgaon, Haryana].
Darkness there but something more. [Blue Pencil 2017]
Cloudburst – The womanly Deluge [Global Fraternity of Poets, Gurgaon, Haryana]

Although hailing from Kashmir, India, she stays in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India with her husband .

1.       What inspired you to write poetry?
It was a girl who joined our school in Sixth Standard, who acted as a catalyst for the eruption of my creative spring, [!] till then lying dormant.  She was obsessed with writing poetry, and I found myself turning green with envy at the prodigious talent of this eleven year old. But then I told myself,” if she can do it, why not I?” So, I made a conscious effort not to turn green , but instead took to turning the white paper black with , what , at hindsight , I realise was  , unadulterated trash , but , to an eleven year old , appeared pure sublimity .

2.       Who introduced you to poetry?
It was my dad who introduced me to poetry. He was not only a professor, but also a poet who wrote some beautiful poetry, in Urdu and English.
Moreover, I recall my dad reciting The Rime of the Ancient mariner, The Pied Piper of Hamelin,
The Owl and the Pussy cat in his very impressive baritone, and the siblings rushing from different rooms to listen to his powerful rendition.
That was my first introduction to poetry.

3.       How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
As a college girl, I was very aware of the dominating presence of older poets. Our house was a bibliophile’s den,
there were books of every variety, and myriad poets were discussed and analysed, because three of the siblings
had literature as a subject in graduation. Furthermore, my dad being a professor of English was very particular
that we should read a lot, and hence , there was no escaping the lure of poets.

4.       What is your daily writing routine?
I do not adhere to any particular routine , but yes , I am an early riser , and it is my habit to go for a walk every morning ,
so when I come back after successfully having removed the sleep kinks from my eyes , and am feeling rejuvenated ,
I invariably pen a poem or a prose piece .Sometimes , when a particular idea strikes me , i pen it down immediately .

5.       What motivates you to write?
I just love nature, and have written numerous poems about trees, the rains, rivers and lakes, snow- capped mountains.
The first ray of the easterly sun, the toothless grin of an old couple and a toddler, the sun reflected in the waves,
pups and kittens gambolling, a cat snoozing on a sun- lit patch have always sent me into a poetic tizzy .
Anything unjust happening around the world , has prodded me into writing poetry or prose .
Where are the lilacs? ,my collection of peace poems , published in 2016 , was a result of my  reaction to the shattering of peace
throughout the world .
I hail from Kashmir in India , the turbulence there makes my heart bleed , and i have written many poems about this lost paradise .

6.       What is your work ethic?
I do not strictly adhere to any work ethic. I write whenever any idea strikes me, and it keeps churning in my mind, till I have put it on paper.
So, I have written while travelling – in bus, train and plane. [No, not in a bullock cart or camel cart yet
, though I have had the privilege of sitting in both!]

7.       How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
“Get over your romantic sensibilities, mom,” this is my daughter’s perennial refrain, because I am an unabashed romantic at heart,
and in this era of post- modernistic poetry ,  Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth continue to influence me even now.
My dad, a very popular professor of English, was a great admirer of Edgar Allen Poe, the nonsense verse and limericks of Edward Lear
and the novels of Dickens and Hardy, and I grew up loving them too. He was an authority on Robert Browning,
having written his PhD thesis on his Dramatic Monologues, hence I also became addicted to the Dramatic Monologue at one stage of my life.
The way my dad recited the words from Porphyria’s Lover  still sends shivers up my spine …
‘all her hair
In one, long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around
And strangled her.”
I remember my dad using words like enjambment, inner man, and psycho – analysis while explaining Dramatic Monologue to me.
In many of my short stories, I do see glimpses of the dramatic monologue.

8.       Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Well, there is not just one writer that I admire; there are many, some have mesmerised me by their use of stunning imagery, the poems of some poets have gone straight to the heart by their simple majesty, some poetic devices used by some other poets have intrigued me no end.
Some contemporary Indian writers, writing in English have created a very impressive niche in the world of English literature, and I admire them too.

9.       Why do you write?
Writing is therapeutic, it is cathartic, and gives me a high. Whenever I have completed writing something, the afterglow pervades my entire being and the smile refuses to leave me. If a particular funny scene , catches my fancy , I have to put it on paper , if anything tugs at my heart strings , that too has to be written about , otherwise I will spend the night  tossing and turning in bed , till  I have penned my thoughts .

10.   What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
If you have a passion, a fertile imagination, a never say die attitude, an exemplary resilience, a very good command over the language you are writing in,
and above all, do not look around for excuses for PROCRASTINATION, you can definitely become a writer.

11.   Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Bring out the tall Tales – a collaborative venture with Avijit Sarkar, [Our stories with his illustrations] is with the publisher
and besides this ambitious venture, I have three more projects in the pipeline – my International Reuel award winning long poem, Oh Hark!
[Also Illustrated by Avijit Sarkar], my satirical novel on higher education, and a book of poems, The woman at the water Kiosk and other poems.
My blog link

https://santoshbakaya.blogspot.com

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