We offer another exclusive Q&A Interview with Dilip Mohapatra, a writer whose multiple literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of Jan/Feb 2019, and previously of May 2017.
You have participated in our ‘Spotlight on Writers’ series, been interviewed on ‘Taming The Tides’ and now officially have been voted as Author of The Month for the second time in two years. Is there anything else about Dilip, the man that you would like to add from our last interview?
Firstly let me with all humility thank the Spillwords community for bestowing the honour of being the Author of the Month for the second time. It only reassures me that my poetry continues to be accepted and appreciated by the readers and at the same time makes me feel more responsible to them to write better and better. As for my poetic journey during the two years, I have been fairly prolific and last year my sixth poetry collection titled Dewdrops of the Dawns have seen the light of the day. Meanwhile I also embarked upon a project of writing a professional book titled C2C, Campus to Corporate which has come out as a Career Navigation Manual for students undergoing higher education and seeking a corporate career. The book addresses the need of changing the campus mindset to face the turbulence and complexities of the real professional world and suggests strategies for Selection, Survival and Success in the context of a corporate career. It has become a best seller in its category and this year it has moved into its second edition. Also in collaboration with a technology firm I am now ready to launch its digitised version on a learning portal to improve its reach and penetration globally. But my first love continues to be poetry. Poetry that illuminates, poetry that equalises, poetry that unites, poetry that challenges, poetry that encourages, poetry that provokes, poetry that celebrates, poetry that heals and poetry that reveals. My poetical pursuits continue and I hope by end of the year I should be ready for publishing my seventh poetry collection.
Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
My poetry writing has rather a short cycle time. Once an idea forms in my mind, it takes some time to incubate. Then I phrase them in my mind and review the flow mentally till I am ready to type the poem on my iPad or sometimes on my laptop. The conceptualisation takes time but the act of putting the same into written format is rather quick. For example I may turn over the perceived poem many times in my mind for an hour or two, actual typing and formatting may take 15/20 minutes, while review, refinement, polishing and fine-tuning to reach the final version may take another half an hour or so. Sometimes however the perception to visualisation may take days, depending on the complexity of the theme and my emotional connect with the theme.
Other professional projects are more streamlined which include prolonged research, formulating the structure, formulating and validating the hypotheses, sequencing the chapters, writing, proofing/editing etc. and take months to complete. A case in point is C2C, a 365 page professional book which took me almost 8 months to write, with about 6/7 hours of work everyday.
What has had an influence on you or your writing since the last time we connected?
As for my poetry, the influence had always been nature, timeless human issues as well as contemporary societal issues and continue to be so. Specifically speaking, my interactions with poets from various parts of the world in International Poetry Festivals have had some influence in appreciating the evolution of contemporary writing in English as well as in the regional languages. Professional writing however always gets influenced by the existing needs in various sectors and strata of the intended readership.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Originality refers to the unique style and substance that the author brings to the table. Talking of poetry if you Google any key word, say Rose, Tree, Waves, Time, and the like and look for poems written by poets on many websites, you may come across large number of poems written by many poets from the classical to the modern era. The subject may be the same but an original poem would have its unique characteristic which will be completely different from the other. The structure, the use of metaphors, the style would be distinctly unique to the original author. My personal imprint on my creations clearly would have their distinct identity, a sort of stamp, because of their uniqueness, like most original artistes are recognised by their distinct style of painting unique to them in terms of choice of medium, style of their brush strokes and choice as well as use of colour and techniques. A Salvador Dali painting would be so clearly different from one of Van Gogh’s. Original works are clearly distinguishable for their novelty in thoughts and expressions from reproductions, clones, forgeries or derivatives. In professional researched works however, one may draw from others’ works for contrasting, validating or substantiating one’s own propositions with due acknowledgement. But the newness of one’s approach, the originality of the framework, unique findings and innovative recommendations make the work no less original.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
It reminds me of someone who had said that speeches were like babies, easy to conceive but difficult to deliver.
As for poetry I think it’s the other way around. The difficult phase is from the thought trigger to visualisation through perception and conceptualisation. The mental exercise that includes choosing the right metaphors, selecting the right words, creating the rhythm etc also are relatively difficult, because that is the real creative phase. Physical phrasing and putting the pen on paper or typing on the keyboard phase is rather easier. In case of professional books, the research phase, the structuring phase, hypotheses formulation and validation phase are rather difficult than writing the chapters and giving recommendations per se.
In short accurate problem definition is harder than finding the solution, quite akin to the fact that in medical profession diagnosis is harder than making the prescription.
What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
I have covered this fairly in the response to the previous question.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
We all grow with time. I have picked up some of my poems that I had written almost fifty years ago and compared them with my current writing. I can distinctly see the footprints of evolution in my style, maturity and contemporariness. Those were the days we had the influence of poets like Allan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. Now having read so many contemporary poets like Lorca, Neruda, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Fleur Adcock, etc. I feel my style and world view has evolved. A holistic balancing of aesthetics, rhythm, music, lyricism, alliterations, metaphors and images have surely improved. So also the acceptance of my poems in the literary and readers communities.
Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
My younger self? Oh, if I may turn the clock back, probably I would read poetic work of many more poets and learn as much as I can to evolve my poetry into more of a transformative art, aimed at engaging my readers more meaningfully to heal the bleeding wounds around and turn the ways of humanity onto a transcendental path.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
For the aspiring writers my first advice is to respect their passion for writing and to set their personal goals in this space. I would also recommend that they make themselves conversant with the principles of good writing in terms of techniques, style and usage. There is no substitute to reading of the writings of as many authors as they can. The more they read both classical and contemporary work of global authors , the more they would imbibe the tenets of good writing and draw the necessary inspiration. Lastly they must always keep in mind that a writer has a responsibility to the readers of his or her work. A responsibility that must restrain one from abusing one’s power to promote negativity, a responsibility towards the community, to the society and to the humanity to promote only goodness, greatness and civility.
Out of your literary works we’ve published, which is your favourite? And why?
This is a bit difficult to answer. The question is similar to asking the parents, ‘which of your children is your favourite and why?’
However, if I have to respond, I would say that one of my favourites is titled Distressed Denims which was published at Spillwords on 27 Feb this year, recently. The reason is that it’s sort of biographical, depicting the style statement of the current generation through the character of my granddaughter, which sometimes baffles the older generation but yet the poem doesn’t highlight any generation gap in a conflictual manner. It’s more about peaceful coexistence with a dash of humour.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I am thinking of my next long term project in terms of another professional book on ‘Education and Employability’. The basic framework has been structured. Soon I shall be moving into the research phase. I have promised my publisher to get the manuscript ready by middle of 2020. Simultaneously my poetry writing would continue till I have in my portfolio sufficient poems for my next poetry book, which I intend publishing in November/December this year.
Anything you would like to communicate with the Spillwords Press Community?
My relationship with Spillwords runs into the fourth year and I must say that it gives me great pleasure while traversing through this delightful journey along with the erudite members of the community. Spillwords is like an infinitely flowing river of gems which continue to shine and sparkle and as they roll on the new lot takes their place. All the while illuminating the shores in myriad hues. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Spillwords community for accepting me into their fold and for continuing to enrich and encourage me.
MAY 2017 / JAN-FEB 2019 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Dilip Mohapatra (b.1950), a decorated Navy Veteran started writing poems since the seventies. His initial foray into the world of literature was through poetry workshops in college and inspirations from his teacher Jayanta Mahapatra, an acclaimed poet in contemporary English. His poems have appeared in many literary journals of repute and anthologies worldwide. Some of his poems are included in the World Poetry Yearbook, 2013 and 2014 Editions. He has six poetry collections to his credit published by Authorspress, the latest being Dewdrops of Dawns, which has received raving reviews in multiple literary journals globally. Currently his latest, a Professional book titled Campus to Corporate which is a career navigation manual for the students aspiring for a successful corporate career and for newcomers to the industry to survive and succeed has become a best seller with more than 10000 copies sold. He lives with his wife at Pune, India.