“Be truthful in expressing your emotions” says poet Sujata Chatterjee

Sujata Chatterjee is a postgraduate in Anaesthesiology from Tata Memorial Hospital. She also holds a degree in journalism from Delhi School of Journalism. The happiness and positivity that she derives from photography, writing verse, and travelling reflects in her anthology of poems ‘Looking Through the Prism – Spectrum’ which is now is out with Notion Press.

 


Aditi: Are you a poet, a photographer, a traveller or a journalist ?

Sujata Chatterjee: I am all of those. But first and foremost, I am a doctor by profession. And I am a author, photographer, and a traveller by passion. Although I have passed a course of journalism from the Delhi School of Journalism, I have not worked as a reporter as yet. I have written for the ‘WOMAN’S ERA” in the page, “The patient I can never forget.”

Aditi: How did you start writing poems ?

Sujata Chatterjee: I have been writing poetry since I was 10 years old. My greatest inspiration was my grandfather. He was himself a poet. I received a lot of encouragement from my parents too. As I grew up, great poets like William Wordsworth, Robert Frost. R.L Stevenson’s works largely had a influence in my poems. Some of my readers have described my verses as a Wordsworthy type. Medical profession also helped me to boost up my compositions. Many of my poems found their way to the Medical College notice boards and college magazines.

Aditi: What is the most difficult part of writing poems ?

Sujata Chatterjee: The most difficult part of writing poems is to overcome the “writer’s block”. Sometimes ideas just do not happen to seed into the mind. It is rather frustrating not to be able to compose poems when you want to. On the World Poetry Day, I wanted to share a poem, but I could not overcome the block I had in my mind to begin. Hence I abandoned the procedure and shared a poem which I wrote about 2-3 weeks back.

Aditi: For those interested in penning poetry what 3 things should they bear in mind always ?

Sujata Chatterjee: Three things which should be borne in mind whilst penning down poetry are

  1. Be truthful in expressing your emotions. Poets are generally emotional in nature and they write whatever they feel in the depths of their heart and soul, unlike fiction which rises from a fertile imagination of a writer.
  2. Do not try hard to overcome the writer’s block. This happens to all authors at times. You should just stop writing and begin when you think your ideas are pouring in fluently at a later date.
  3. Many young aspiring poets say, “Writing poems is my hobby”. My advice to these shall be, ”Make writing your habit, not hobby”. Hobby is just for pastime. But habits are inculcated and you will soon see that your style and content is maturing day by day.

The book cover 

Aditi: Which is your favourite poem from this anthology and why ?

Sujata Chatterjee: The Lake is one of my favourite poems in this anthology. Basically this poem describes the Lake to be a giver and the traveller is the receiver. Here the lake is a silent and deep body of water, unlike a river which has current and a sea which has waves. So its water is pure and cool which the traveller can drink and cool himself. As the lake stands under the sun, its water becomes warm and during sunset, its colour turns to an orange colour. Still the lake offers solace to the weary traveller who comes and rests by its side. At night, it reflects the moon and the stars and the ripples created seem like ebbs and tide of the sea. They say during full moon the water tides up. The Earth has been compared to a mother, who hugs her children, the gigantic trees and when the leaves and petals fall down in the lake, she picks them up with affection with a feeling of imparting love. Seasons change and during the winter the lake accumulates snow. If winter comes can the spring be far behind ? This has been compared to joys and sorrows of our lives. At autumn the scarlet of leaves which fall down on the lake gives it a golden glow. Despite so much that the lake has to go through it still awaits the weary travellers to freshen up. The time comes to bid farewell to each other. By this time the traveller is fresh and he starts whistling a tune as he turns to go to his home. The lake is moved by the music as she bids farewell and awaits some more tired travellers who would come that way. Thus I love the character of the Lake, her sacrifice and benevolence.

Aditi: What do you do when you are stressed out ?

Sujata Chatterjee: I listen to music when I am stressed out.

Aditi: Why do you think the youth of today is crumbling under pressure ?

Sujata Chatterjee: This era is the era of competition. Nobody wants to settle for anything less than the best. This adds to the peer pressure, as the average student has to treble his effort if he wants to become outstanding. Naturally, success does not come in one day. Students have to struggle hard for survival. Darwin’s theory of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest plays a vital role. If they have to face failures, they think it is the end of the world. Hence the young generation crumbles badly under pressure. What they do not realise that failures are the stepping stones to progress and success. What they do not know that even King Bruce, after his defeat in war had something to learn from the spider who fell so many times while making a web. The motto was try and try again. Since these kids aim to excel in a short span of time, they are falling prey to depression and frustration.

Aditi: How can one remain positive in life ?

Sujata Chatterjee: Aim for the best, practise your level best and convert your failures to success stories. Time is the best healer.

Aditi: You worked at Tata Memorial Hospital and then took up Journalism. How did such a change occur?

Sujata Chatterjee: I passed my post graduation in Anaesthesiology from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. I am still a practising Anaesthesiologist at Kolkata. Side by side I did my course of journalism through a correspondence course from Delhi School of Journalism. I used to write poems and stories since childhood and many of these have been published in the school and college magazines. I used to write for the column “The patient I can never forget” in the magazine, “WOMAN’S ERA”. I often toyed with the idea of publishing my poetry and stories. 4 years back I had suffered from a very rare and a fatal disease and was struggling between life and death. I realised what it was to look at a suffering from the other side of the table, from a patient’s viewpoint. I recovered thanks to the efforts of the team of doctors of the Apollo Hospital. I realised what it is to really have a healthy life. I then made up my mind to publish my poetry book as an achievement despite of the health condition I had suffered from.

Aditi: Why do you like taking pictures ?

Sujata Chatterjee: Photography has been a passion for me since childhood. I am a great admirer of beauty. If anything lovely catches my eye, I try to frame it within a photograph. I also love to store my favourite moments and places I have visit when I travel. What can be better than a photograph which can speak more than words. A visual impact is always better than thousands of words. You can witness it in my e-magazine “Elitte travels and Elitte Tours” and in my Facebook page.

Aditi: Does writing or photography distress you more ?

Sujata Chatterjee: Both. Writing can be accomplished in solitude and photography is better when the subject is interesting. Be it birds or animals in the forest or the nature like hills, mountains, rivers, valleys , seas, clouds, rainbows, trees, or the seasons, I always seem to have a keenness for these subjects both in poetry and in photography.

Aditi: You travel a lot. Please tell the readers about one hidden place you have visited, which not many know of.

Sujata Chatterjee: I have one special place to name and it’s the MOJAVE DESERT. We travelled in a Land Rover.  It is an arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America. It is located in the southwestern United States, primarily within the southeastern California and southern Nevada. Some areas also extend to Utah and Arizona.  Its boundaries are generally noted by the presence of the JOSHUA TREES,which is native only to the Mojave Desert. Its lowest point is the BADWATER BASIN. The National Park in this area is DEATH VALLEY, ZION and the GRAND CANYON. LAS VEGAS is in its peripheral fringes.

Aditi: Please pen down a few lines of poetry as a message for your readers.

Sujata Chatterjee:

      Try and try again my good friends

              Till you have reached the very top

              The steps of stones of the failure

              Will lead your way if down you drop

              Tread softly on these stones

              For they are your dreams that you long

              You shall ever be at peace and joy

              When you have sung your success song.

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