Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Muse of Poetry sighed and waited — to kiss me once in a while

Manoj Das, eminent author, talks about his work and the place of a writer in an era of cultural globalisation. Belief in the permanence of words: Manoj Das.
Sachidananda Mohanty is Professor of English at the University of Hyderabad.
A bilingual author who has received wide recognition, Manoj Das is perhaps the most influential writer in post-independence Orissa. Born in 1934 in a remote coastal village, Manoj Das has to his credit about 40 books in English and an equal number in his mother tongue. A critic, columnist, educationist and a devoted student of mysticism and Integral Yoga, he lives in Pondicherry and is a Professor of English Literature at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. He has received numerous literary awards including the Central and Orissa State Sahitya Akademi Awards. Excerpts from an interview... The Hindu Literary Review Sunday, Jan 07, 2007
Your first book in Oriya was published at the age of 14. How did it happen?
Writing came to me like several other functions in life — beholding the splendour of a rainbow or the beauty of a garden. It mattered when the little book received attention and appreciation came from connoisseurs in the field of literature.
Although an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, you also wrote remarkable poetry early in your career. Why did you give it up?
Alas, for reasons quite pragmatic. Poetry and fiction came to me spontaneously. But certain themes could be worked out only through fiction. Not only the editors and publishers, but also the readership demanded more and more of fiction .The creative force of this mode made me its captive. The Muse of Poetry sighed and waited — to kiss me once in a while.
At 15, you launched Diganta a reputed literary journal in Oriya. What was your inspiration?
Few periodicals then existed in Oriya, unlike today. Diganta was my humble effort to improve the situation. I struggled, and was happy to see it growing as a forum where renowned talent mingled with the new.
What prompted you to join radical politics and the Students' Federation of India?
Mine was a charming village on the sea, inhabited by people kind and courteous. A terrible cyclone ruined all, ushering in famine and epidemic. The human misery kindled in me the search for a panacea. I found the answer in Marxism. That was an exciting time: the Communist movement was still undivided.
In 1956 you attended the historic Bandung Conference in Indonesia. How did this experience shape your literary imagination?
The Afro-Asian Students Conference following the great Conference of Afro-Asian leaders who formulated the famous Panchsheel. It had no direct impact on my creativity, but it changed my attitude to reality. 11:10 AM

No comments:

Post a Comment