We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Shruti Das, a writer whose multiple literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of April 2017.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in Cuttack, a small town in Odisha in Eastern India, and had most of my upbringing there. I was born into a family of freedom fighters and revolutionaries. I am the youngest of three children and my parents and family indulged me. I took to studying and majoring in English literature. We have a small farm in the ancestral village and thus, I have had access to rural as well as urban life. My work and research allowed me to travel and meet a lot of people. I do have the travel bug in me.
What has influenced your writing style?
I think my writing style came naturally to me. But I could owe it to the freedom of thought and expression that my father always encouraged me to have.
What inspires you to write?
So many things. To begin with the angst, suffering and strife of women; my culture; the environment and the way we destroy it. It hurts me to see hurt.
When did you realize you wanted to write?
I don’t really know and I can’t exactly say. Maybe when I was very young and was playing rhyme games with my father. But I certainly wanted to write poetry when I was in High School.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
I get an idea and mull over it for maybe a few hours or days, then I sit down to pen the lines down in a notebook. Sometimes I get an idea or some lines in my sleep. They compel me to write, I often get up in the dead of the night to write those lines. I usually write in the early hours of the day or in the quiet of the night.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
This is an interesting question. Writing itself is fulfilling like becoming a mother or a nurse. When an idea brews in me I feel the urge to put it in black and white. A pain escapes me when I complete the piece writing and I feel relaxed after I have read the final draft. I feel happy when I see the crisp words conveying the sense of my intent.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Of course. I use a lot of imagery, motifs, cultural elements and allusions. They help me express myself more productively. I, sometimes, feel I can escape into those images and cultural symbols and allow them to say whatever I wanted to say.
What do you most enjoy reading?
I love reading fiction and poetry. Especially, modern poetry.
Is there a poet or a writer that has influenced you? If so, in what way?
I can’t strictly say that there is one poet or writer who has influenced me, but I would like to name a few. It is W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou whose poetry I would swear by. And there is Toni Morrison and Dickens who I love to read and re-read. These great writers have mesmerized me into a way of thinking which is possibly uniquely theirs. Their detached expression of angst and repression, the manner in which they have rendered the personal universal is something I adore about them.
What are your ambitions as a writer?
As a writer I wish to reach out to more and more people. I want to represent the sorrows of the women/children/troubled people across borders, because pain is universal and these are troubled times. And above all, I would like my poetry to grace the pages of literature long after I am gone.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have had the good fortune of living in sylvan surroundings, in pristine nature and am really sad to see most of it rapidly go. I would like to ask the readers of this journal to take care of themselves by taking care of nature and animals; to feel the pain of existence and to resist violence.
Dr Shruti Das teaches English Literature and Language in the Berhampur University in Odisha, India. She is an academician and a poet writing Bi-lingually. She has published widely and has two volumes of poetry to her credit: A Daughter Speaks (2013) and Lidless Eyes (2015). She loves to travel.