Friday, February 1, 2019

Ppig 6

Ppigpenn Interview
Not in a mood to be clever, so Sreemanti Plath-Kerouac Sengupta

Age? (Feel free to ignore this question completely)
“Revolution has no age” (Ladies, add that to the cleverly-avoided-uncomfortable-question thingies)

Location and occupation?
Physically, home-stranded, in Kolkata. In spirit, wherever somebody is getting his/her ass kicked and probably he/she didn’t want to belong just then, just there. I love doing what I love, but it doesn’t pay, so I end up doing what I hate (take that Marquis De Sade).

How long have you been writing? Do you play an instrument as well?
Wrote my first proper short story in my vernacular (Bangla) when I was four. It was a adventure-thriller, a gory affair, complete with a haunted temple in the middle of a nowhere-forest, skulls rolling all over the place, creepers growing get the drift. I still remember people being really proud about it, now I know how I get my inkblot tests all mixed up!
Umm..I can play the harmonium, strum randomly on the guitar and ravage my vocal chords. ‘Never settle’ is what I live by.

Do you have a specific writing style? Hobbies?
I never consciously developed any style. I was drawn to specific styles, meaning some grew on me, and some put me to sleep. But this was way after I had traversed through the volumes of mandatory readings of classics and poetry. When I took up writing seriously, I found out I could not for the life of me, write a) long b) linear story lines c) conventional or even sometimes meaningful things. My writings have largely been involuntarily experimental, flash and poetry and increasingly moving to shorter and sparser forms – and I can diagnose this to my anxiety and borderline personality disorder that doesn’t let me think or settle down to a memory or emotion for too long.

Do you write full-time?
No can do. Wish I could lean on blue skies and nibble on the quill of the ancient pen and fall asleep on hieroglyphic shores. My writing will never pay bills, and at some level, money will always corrupt the art, as it does everything. So, back to yawning at border margins and Times New Romans and cutting the T’s and…

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?
To be singular and universal at the same time, with the same words. It’s what the greats have achieved consistently in their careers. To have crafted something that will touch almost anyone from any state, strata or geography and let him/her take ownership of it is what I think is a writer’s greatest achievement. I don’t remember myself having hit that sweet spot too often. For a few, I have to thank Soheyl Dahi and his erstwhile Sore Dove Press for publishing my poem ‘Father’ and naming the collection with a borrowed phrase from the poem, another would be ‘One Day In the Life Of Narcissus’ a flash story published in the Onager Editions, ‘Word Maiden’ – a story in three parts that I kind of peddled away and some of my recent work for the Odd Books 2018-19 collection.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
The definitive moment you make a silent swear, however politely it may be – “Fuck this shit, I’m gonna be a writer” – is the inception of the greatest challenge of being a writer. Everything changes, and you have to be ready for it. Because you have to be a 50 year old Bukowski mailing his umpteenth letter in vertical rain, a dog yapping at your heels, when this Satori can hit you. Most of us, are stuck in the chasm of knowing and realizing, and that is a bummer.

What projects of yours have been recently published?  Books or Magazines?
Ah, the hope and love of my life – The Odd Magazine. Which has recently forayed into print minis called the Odd Books. The first/winter 2018-19 collection has been mailed across to our lovely subscribers and friends around the globe and are slowly knocking their doors. Yeah so, these minis contain some of my self-published recent works. Among them is a book of American haikus (called Love etc., illustrated by the gifted Manjari Chakravarti from India) that’s a collection of 12 tongue-in-cheek studies on love, pain and in-betweens. It took me about 2 years to write these, and it was worth it! A project which I loved working at was ‘They Tell You Lies’ an interesting study in collages by the one and only Bruno Sourdin and flash stories by yours truly. Again, as mini books already demanded a restriction on words and space, this was totally my thing, and some of those stories flew right off my dream-diaries. Not to be left out is ‘Innards’ inked by the incredible Janne Karlsson on a surrealistic storyline that spirals down into the darkest corners of you – an old piece that was lying around and brought to life with great art. Also in this delicious package is a photo card collaboration by me and Ana Viviane Minorelli (Brazil), this is part of First Person , a rather adrenalin-ny novella I self-published and must be still out there on Amazon and an incredible chap inked and told by C.F. Roberts. Hover over to the ‘Odd Books’ section at for more details and shoot us a mail at if you want to order some oddness!

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?
Actively working on the upcoming issue of the Magazine (oddity 18) and putting together the 2019-20 odd books collection, mainly a lot of editing (hugely rewarding), this and my part time content writing work (that buys me Darjeeling tea and dry eye drops) eats away most of my time. So, I have been battling to get started and have progressed a teeny bit with a flash novella. I began writing this with Nancy Stohlman’s NanoWrimo in mind, I thought prompts and 1 flash per day in the pleasant November sun would do me good – I must’ve forgotten who I was, so anyway that didn’t happen. So I targeted the Bath novella award next, trying to get it done within the Jan 14 deadline and win big bucks to cover publication expenses for the mag – and that didn’t happen either. So now, I am stuck serious inspiration, the kind that doesn’t come easy, especially for an extremely expensive and fickle minded writer like me. To put things into perspective, this novella, which is very very nascent is on a journey with me – an experiment with a short-in-long format, a sort of cheat-style for lazy writers like me, where I am trying to track down the roots to personal pain through as many avenues as I have personally experienced – fingers crossed

Where can we find your work? 
Incredibly, I don’t have any links to them – zero, zilch, nada. It escapes me why I haven’t made an effort keeping them. If anybody is interested, a google search with ‘Sreemanti Sengupta +’ magazines such as ‘Syncopes (by Bruno Sourdin)’, ‘Visual Verse’, ‘Onager Editions’, ‘Grandma Moses Press’, ‘Svenk Apache Press’, ‘Mad Swirl’, ‘Blink Ink’, ‘Ppigpen (surprise, surprise!)’, ‘Bare Hands Poetry’ etc. might throw up some things. I am not an active submitter though, so, good luck!

How do you react to rejections?
“Thank you for considering us, but we are afraid….”  - Yawn and delete
“It’s been an absolute honour reading you but we regret to inform you that your piece xxx though extremely interesting does not meet our requirements at present..maybe tweak the ending for a more linear storyline for audiences to relate etc…..” – Dude, what are you on?
“Thank you for submitting. Regret to inform you that we cannot include you at present. However your work shows promise and we would love to read more, submit again in xxxx weeks.”  - Nice! That’s the way to do it!

How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?
Answer with a customary ‘Thank you’ a silent pat on the back for a job well done, mull over a facebook update but decide it’s a overkill, get down to grocery and laundry. NOT.
What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
Don’t do it for money. Find another way to get rich.

What is your favorite book?
 Sorry but I am skipping this one. I cannot for the carry book-nepotism tag for the rest of my life. On a serious note, I just think, some books have just made some writers – and there are hundreds of such pieces incomparable to one another. They are books that could not belong to anyone else and therefore I am in no position to choose a favourite from them. To give an example, I don’t think I can choose a favourite between a Satori in Paris (Jack Kerouac) and Eyeless in Gaza (Aldous Huxley)..and there are many others from what I have managed to read till date.

Who is your favorite author?
Same answer as above.  

If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald). Just thinking of a dinner with him makes me go weak in the knees! He’s the man with everything - looks, impeccable taste, backed by sensitivity, and old-world chivalry. I’ll just go all twenty year old here with my choice!

What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?
  You’re a writer – what can possibly be a greater occupational hazard!

What makes you laugh?
"The fact that nobody around has a friggin' idea about who I really am, never did, never will"
What makes you cry?

"The fact that nobody around has a friggin' idea about who I really am, never did, never will"

What is your preferred drink while you write?
Tea. Darjeeling. Black. No milk/sugar.

Beach or Mountains?
The sea.

Cats or Dogs?

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Beatles for the blues. Stones for the mind.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?
Just hear Jimi striding past.  

Shakespeare or Bukowski?
I would have them both debate on the role of women in ‘Women’ and ‘Macbeth’.

Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like. We want to hear about your country, please. Any dangerous wild animals or fish? Why would people like to visit your country?
 I can’t tell you more about my country (India) factually, geographically, ethnically, historically than any simple google search and a carefully crafted Wikipedia page will tell you. So let’s not go into that. Let’s not go into the buildings that were built, the wars that were fought or even the animals – which country doesn’t have its share of bloodthirsty predators, the slimy seemingly annoying beings and adorable furry creatures? What is important is the individual experience. I have grown up in this country as an unique doofus, completely aloof from politics, never going near newspapers, so I was always given warnings about not being a fully aware citizen. However, I have my own awareness of this country being a chaotic beauty and disturbing mess. Poverty, overpopulation, joblessness are only the ulterior signs of the country’s ageless religious and almost genetic patriarchal, sexist and Brahminical mindsets, that have continuously been creating socio-economic Frankensteins, which have gained power over the ages, becoming more and more uncontrollable. And yet, this country preserves the roots of ancient spirituality, a down-to-earth understanding, almost a secret language that only this soil is privy to. You must come if you want to be a part of this unique language – this very special bond that we have with the land, and with all our visitors, that goes beyond our sufferings, beyond a tour of culture, religion and history, you come here to get in touch with yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment