Please take us through the years when poetry became your passion.
I believe that you don’t take up poetry as it is poetry that chooses you. I started to write in my college days, although, the habit of reading poetry had been instilled in me by my mother since my childhood. My mother harboured deep reverence for Urdu poetry in particular, which was somehow instrumental in making me, too, fall in love with poetry. I remember myself getting goosebumps in the poetry class back in my college days, such is the connection between poetry and me.
Your family had migrated to India during partition. How has your family history affected your poems?
Partition became an important part of my past life and a major point of reference. During my recent visit to Pakistan, I found out that ‘Dutts’ were the original inhabitants of Lahore and felt happy that I was an original Lahoran. Literature is all about roots and wings.
What has empowered you all these years?
I believe, I have been empowered by receiving western liberal education, by the support of my family, as well as, the credibility I may have been able to establish for myself as a leading journalist.
Has your writing style evolved with time?
My poems are categorized as free verse comprising rhythm more than rhyme. The style of my writing has remained consistent over these years as my endeavour to produce poetry that is perspicuous remains consistent. I have remained pretty loyal to my ideology of producing content which induces spontaneous comprehension. In fact, I tend to work hard over the simplification of texts that I find convoluted and therefore, a little difficult to understand.
What is your message to the aspiring poets and writers?
I have one sincere message for every budding poet which is more of a suggestion, and that is to read. One must read others’ work before expecting them to read theirs. To become a progressive writer, it is of utmost importance for one to heartily welcome and open oneself to the viewpoint of others. I usually hear people not wanting to get influenced by others’ perspective. However, I feel that it is a rather healthy influence which helps to expand people’s mental horizon.
What role has the Urdu language played in your poetry?
As my roots are from Lahore, Urdu poetry and the language has always been close to me, as is evident from my poems. As I said earlier, my mother also influenced me to a large extent. So, when I returned to Chandigarh after completing my graduation around the second half of the 70s, there were a lot of Urdu poets in Punjab at that time so its there the journey began. Also, not only Urdu but Punjabi and Hindi poetry are my forte.
What are you expecting from the Valley Of Words? How, according to you, are such Festivals important for the writers’ community?
Literature Festivals play a crucial role in bringing the talented writers out of their studios to a panel with access to a mass audience. It enables writers, who otherwise have access to a limited audience, to communicate on a large scale. I also believe that such festivals help their books reach out to as many people as possible. I am expecting the same from Valley Of Words, hence, to help put not only writers but also their books into the limelight.
About the Interviewee: Nirupama Dutt is a poet, journalist and a translator based in Chandigarh. She writes in Punjabi and English. Her published work includes ‘Ik Nadi Sanwali Jahi’, a book of poems, for which she received the Punjabi Akademi Award: Lal Singh Dil- Poet of the Revolution. She has also translated and edited an anthology of Punjabi fiction, Stories of the soil; an anthology of fiction by Pakistani women writers, ‘Half The Sky’, and a collection of resistance literature from Pakistan, ‘Children of the Night’.