Dr. Sujata Chatterjee is a post graduate in Anaesthesiology from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and has also done her journalism from Delhi School of Journalism. Hailing from a family of literature lovers, she has also forayed into writing fiction and poetry. This doctor thus not only knocks patients by giving anaesthesia during operations but also knocks readers and stupefies them with her soulful poetry. In a candid conversation with Chirdeep Malhotra, she discusses about her books and writing journey, her views about different poetic writing styles, her favourite authors and books, and how she writes heart warming poetry.
Being from the medical profession you have delved into writing poetry and fiction? What has been your inspiration for writing poetry? Please tell us more about your writing journey?
I have been writing since my childhood. My parents have always encouraged me to do so. My grandfather used to write poems and has been an inspiration during my childhood. At that time I used to write on pieces of paper and then in a diary. As I grew up, my poetry became more matured. I was greatly influenced by English poets like William Wordsworth and Robert Frost. Many of my readers find resemblance in my writing style with these authors. In the medical college, I became busier but continued writing and my write ups found their way to the college notice board and college magazines. I wrote for the column “A patient can never forget” in the Women’s era, a popular women’s magazine in those days. Being a doctor boosted up my passion for writing.
Can you provide a brief overview of your poetry book “Looking through the prism: Spectrum”?
“Looking through the prism: Spectrum” is a collection of motivational poems with a vivid imagery of colours. As a spectrum of colours is derived from a prism, most of these poems have been embedded with the emotions of life and the beauty of nature. Nature has a peculiar resemblance to life. In fact, nature is synonymous with life. The hills, mountains, seas, rivers, sun, moon, stars, seasons, trees, birds, flowers- all of them have been compared to the emotions and life of human beings. There is a poem “I wish I were a birdie” in this collection which delves deep into the emotions of a human being who is chained to a monotonous routine and wants to break free from the fetters of bondage and fly like a bird. There are a few romantic poems like “Remembrance” and “Loving you” which describe the pain of separation and loneliness. Hence, if one is in a quiet mood in the twilight, these poems are worth a good read while relaxing in a chair with a cup of coffee in hand.
Your first book “Flights of Fantasy” is a collection of short stories. What are the themes on which these stories are based?
“Flights of fantasy” is a collection of stories of different genres in which some stories are full of romance which will evoke feelings of pure love in the reader’s mind and some of them are full of suspense and thrill which will keep the readers glued to the book till the end. There are also a few tales of subtle and crisp humour which will bring a smile to the reader’s lips. There are also some medical anecdotes in some of the stories. There is a story based on a miracle occurring in the air, aboard a bumpy flight. There is also a fable with a moral, which will make one think how well the life of the human race is linked to the story.
What do you think are the prerequisites for writing soulful and heart warming poetry?
I think that every writer is emotional in nature. Whatever she or he writes comes from the very depths of his imagination and emotions. Poetry is something which summarizes the feelings of self-evaluation in the verses. Every word depicts the soulful stirring of the poet’s mind and heart. Hence the first and foremost prerequisite for writing poetry is emotional nature of the poet and of course a good vocabulary.
Most of your poems have a lyrical rhyming scheme. Is that a conscious decision? What is your view about free verse- poetry that doesn’t rhyme?
Yes, my poesies have a lyrical rhyming scheme. One may say that it is a conscious decision, but most of the lines are just spontaneous like this- “The silvery dewdrops painted on leaves, the golden gown that the warm sun weaves”. Along with lyrical rhyming, there is alliteration in my poetry like in the lines from the poem “Musical Notes of Nature”- “The glint of the cloud, the glance of the sky” or “The twirl of the tulips and marigold.” This is due to the love for music in my heart. If one delves deep into the verses, one will perceive that it is very easy to embed notes of music in them and thus, most of my poems can be easily sung as songs. That is why I am thinking of incorporating music in my poetry. Most of the modern poems are free verse poems which do not rhyme. I have gone through many such poems. Many of them are revolutionary in nature, expressed from the depths of the minds of the poet. Thus, poems about liberation of women and their rights; or poems about heartbreaks after an unsuccessful love affair find their way to free verse poetry. It’s like the poet wants to tell us his or her precise thoughts. Since such poems come from the analytical mind of the poet, they are very realistic and they surmise the actual feelings of the writer.
Which are your favourite books? Our readers would like to know more about the genres that you like and your favourite authors?
My favourite author during childhood was Enid Blyton. I started reading Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, Sydney Sheldon and Mary Higgins Clark in my teens. I have also read Dan Brown, Perry Mason, Danielle Steel, Robin Cook, Kahlil Gibran and Erich Segal. I love reading detective books. I enjoy the feeling of anticipation, suspense and thrill in these books. That is why Agatha Christie is my all time favourite and Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective, my hero. Danielle Steel’s “Kaleidoscope” is a novel which I like and it deals with love and sacrifice of a woman.
The author blurb mentions that you are also an avid traveller and maintain an e-magazine “Elitte Travels’ and Elitte Tours”. You also upload recipes in another e-magazine “Elitte Kitchen”. Can you tell us more about these ventures of yours and how you got the idea of starting them?
Yes, I am an avid traveller. I have been to places like Rajasthan, M.P., Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North East, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Goa, Chandigarh, Delhi, Tirupati, Pondicherry, Sikkim, Assam and Meghalaya in India. I have been to places like England, Scotland, Wales, Amsterdam, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, USA, Canada, Russia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and the Scandinavian countries- Finland, Norway, Iceland. In “Elitte Travels and Elitte Tours”, I upload photographs and information of the places that I have visited. I am also a great lover of food and enjoy trying out new dishes and recipes, the photographs of which are uploaded in “Elitte Kitchen”. I had been toying with the idea of bringing out a magazine for my readers since many days and thought of starting an e-magazine which could be viewed and liked by all my contacts as well as the people who are interested in the same fields.
What are your other interests apart from writing?
Apart from writing, I am interested in reading, music, travelling and sports. I have won many medals and certificates in sports during my school and college days.
Are there any new literary projects in the pipeline?
Yes, there are a few projects in the pipeline. “Flights of fantasy” will be published as a second edition with 2 or 3 new stories. I have a few medical articles in hand, which I plan to publish in the near future. Other than this, I am in the process of writing a new novel.
Can you share some inspiring advice for people who want to foray into writing poetry?
Many a times young aspiring writers say that writing is their hobby. My advice to them would be to make writing their habit, not their hobby. Automatically, those who write as a habit will develop fresh and new styles and patterns for writing.
Written by Chirdeep Malhotra