In Conversation with Author & Poet Anju Kishore
Updated: Dec 24, 2019
A poet always has a tender heart that feels more and sees beyond the surface, what appears on the surface is just the mere reflection of the things in the world. But a poet has eyes for seeing those minute details behind the scene that are not visible to the world and they weave those magical words of truth, whim, defiance, and sometimes bring out their own emotions and feelings that they have experienced in their poetic heart in front of other eyes in such an amiable manner that seldom they make way in people’s heart and seldom myriad people have felt inspired by the words of many great poets. Poetry is the reason perhaps this world is such a beautiful place as the magic that the words create in a reader's mind from a poet’s quill have actually cured the insanity of human beings and their existence, somewhere making it more of a sane world to dwell in.
This reminds me of the quote by famous singer, song-writer and peace activist John Lennon
“You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one.” ― John Lennon
Yes! It's true all poets are dreamers and our poetess Anju Kishore also has a tender heart with a dream that one day her poetry would affect if not many but one heart, and change always begins from one person. Thus, she has captured the most sublime and surreal poems on issues like war affected people, children and areas that would without doubt touch your core and her poems on nature particularly expresses her love for it and the way she feels about it, is also the way she has expressed it...that is in the most candid way. Though she is significantly a cost accountant by profession but her passion is writing poetry and she is exploring this realm more now and plans to write more poetry books in future.
Startling images of the Syrian civil war turned Anju Kishore, a former cost accountant by profession, homemaker by choice and a poet by passion. Horror and anguish at the plight of innocent children caught in the crossfire between warring adults formed the subject of her early poems. Soaking in the challenges and pleasures of moving across countries, she traced her poetic journey from war to the love of the universe in her first book of poetry ‘…and I Stop to Listen’ that was published in 2018 and dedicated to the children of Syria. Many of her poems are part of e-magazines and print anthologies. They have been featured in a theatrical performance in Mumbai and in the readers’ section of a Dubai based magazine. Anju Kishore a poet and editor has contributed to various online and print anthologies. One of the winners of The Great Indian Poetry Award 2018 and Plethora's Melange 2019 her poems have been featured in the readers' section of a Dubai based magazine and in a theatrical performance in Mumbai. She is part of the Editorial Team of India Poetry Circle that launched two unique anthologies- Madras Hues, Myriad Views and Confluence 3 in August 2019. She is also one of the editors of Pinkishe, the print magazine of the Delhi based NGO, Pinkishe Foundation.
Plethora Blogazine brings forth the lady with a kind heart, a true nature lover and a great poet through this exclusive interview.
PB. ...and I Stop to Listen, a poetry collection by you, which you have mentioned in the blurb that the inspiration came when the Syrian Civil War was going on and you started penning down this book. Wouldn’t you feel that your book should actually reach those places where people are still living in so much darkness? Then the purpose of this book would be served.
Anju Kishore: The book attempts to draw man’s attention away from his ego and material struggles to redirect it towards nature, towards the realization that there is more to living than warring with oneself and with one’s neighbour. It is my fond hope that my book will someday help pull a person away from the brink of war of any kind and set him on the path of peace, a path that would begin with the realisation of oneness with nature. Her gifts, her little messages, her lessons, her reprimands and her presence in our lives could be recognised and relished if only he ‘stops to listen’.
When my book inspires him to pause and observe how nature gathers, blends, flows and merges into endlessness and it helps him begin a journey inward, then the purpose of my book would be served. A man who has realized himself will never wage war for he would have discovered love. And this is what we need to do now as individuals, as communities and as nations.
In my case, as my journey began with the Syrian war, I have dedicated the book to all the children of Syria and other war-torn lands.
PB. You have written in mix genre like random musings, love poems and poems on nature. How would you define yourself as a poet? Which subgenre entices you more and you find yourself to be the most expressive through it?
Anju Kishore: My poetry tends to lean towards romanticism. The fact has been endorsed by a review of my book that appeared in the September-October 2019 edition of Sahitya Akademi’s esteemed English journal, Indian Literature. The reviewer says, “echoes of the earlier doyens of poetry, especially the Romantics, are visible in quite a few titles and the text but they do not eclipse the freshness and fragrance of these poems.” I write about social ills, current concerns and environmental issues as well. Irrespective of genre, nature often finds her way into my poems and knits herself into my motifs as similes and metaphors in a variety of ways, drawing parallels to life in a language that is simple and relatable.
PB. Since you write poetry, you must be having some favourite poets too? Which poet has or poets have inspired you the most and why ?
Anju Kishore: Though I write poetry I have always loved reading the classics especially Russian. William Dalrymple has been my favorite writer for a few years now. His descriptive presentation of historical facts and his astute understanding of socio-political scenarios make his works a fascinating read. Rumi’s mysticism never fails to sweep me into a higher dimension. I enjoy the visual quality of Ruskin Bond’s writing, both poetry and fiction.
PB. As I know you are a cost accountant by profession. How did the transition happen? Have you started writing poetry recently or have been writing from long? Would you like to tell more about your writing journey.
Anju Kishore: I dabbled in poetry as a kid. But it lost itself completely on my journey through education, marriage and work. When the war we were talking about earlier happened, it simply began to flow. The images of Syrian children caught in the crossfire between warring adults appeared daily in the newspapers. That affected me more than the causes, political consequences and the proceedings of the war. All of that would have seemed senseless if only man had paused to look into the eyes of one bewildered, embattled, devastated child. But he did not. And the war continued.
We were living in Dubai at that time. My first poem inspired by the war won me the first prize in a print magazine. And I knew I had found my calling. Encouraged by my family, friends and the extended community of Facebook, I launched myself into poetry. The more I explored the pathos of war, the more vivid was nature’s manifestation of herself. I set off on a beautiful journey that continues to enrich me. My book introduced me to the world of poets. I discovered the joy of reading out poetry that for me, is as liberating as writing it. Opportunities to edit anthologies soon came by and I am now happily engaged in the joys of not only writing but editing as well.
PB. Apart from poetry, do you write in some other genre as well? And do you ever plan to publish a fiction book in near future?
Anju Kishore: At present my focus is on poetry. In the future anything is possible. I might be open to all forms of creative expression.
PB. Any reason why your focus is only on poetry at present?
Anju Kishore: The world needs good poetry. It needs the power of pen, the clarity of thought and the sensitivity of a poet’s heart. Poetry in my opinion, is one of the most sublime forms of expression and is most suited to create change in not only the society but also in the way we view ourselves. So, for now I wish to explore this vibrant medium to the best of my ability.
PB. From your first poetry book it can be understood that you are a nature lover and have written a good number of poems on it. Do you think it works as a muse for you or you become the artist to see the nature’s beauty?
Anju Kishore: Both. She is the muse as well as poetry. She is the goddess I surrender to every day. She is also the flame that sets my heart ablaze.
I hear it in the crunch of bronzing leaves,
That which I listened for in devout hymns.
When a mizzle tickles a rug of flowers
I find what I looked for in shrines of rock.
What is placed as incense at Her door,
Tell me if it does not burn in my soul and yours.
PB. Before we end this interview, tell us something about your next book- the when and what of it.
Anju Kishore: Let me sit here awhile
And meet poetry of a different kind
Till I am moved on again…to a newer life.
That was how I had signed off my first book. At present, I am in an exploratory phase, delving into different subjects and styles. For me, launching a book is more than a personal milestone. It will happen when my poetry feels ready to make a meaningful contribution to the world. Appreciation from well-known poets has been keeping me motivated and assures me that I am almost there.
To quote noted poet Ravi Shanker N (Ra Sh)“Anju Kishore uses words not as tools to fulfil or express her individual desires but as a means to create a spiritually cleaner world for us to live in…She employs poetry as not a futile exercise in manipulating…words, but like the bristles of a soft brush to wipe a painting clean…In that, her main tool is a sensitive mind which is rare among the new crop of poets…”
The above interview has been done through the online mode of exchanging mails conducted by Chief Editor Monalisa Joshi and the whole interview is going to be part of Plethora's Coffee Table Book, Volume 1.