Getting Candid With The Weaver of Rhyme : Madhura Banerjee
Animesh | Jan 29, 2018
One of the visiting luminaries of the second edition of the mega creative confluence, Roots, which was conducted on 27th and 28th January, happened to be one of the prolific literary icons among young poets, or the ‘Hue Woman’ as she is popularly known—Madhura Banerjee. A versatile and creative persona, Ms.Banerjee hails from Kolkata and Team Monday Morning caught up with her on the sidelines of her slam poetry workshop, as she revealed more about herself, her passion and her enchanting travel stories under the reclusive Saturday afternoon sun. Here are a few the excerpts from the interview.
Monday Morning(MM): Your online profiles speak volumes about your literary and creative interests—a writer, blogger, coder, musician, traveller, linguist and a lot more. How do you identify yourself on a professional level?
Madhura Banerjee(MB): Even when I am projecting myself on a professional level, I try to describe myself as I am and do not have a different agenda on my social media portfolio(s). To be specific. I speak about my varied interests, which mainly comprises of poetry. Of course, I am passionate about my career in science, so definitely, when it comes to telling people about my professional identity, I can always filter my interests out and maintain the foremost two - that I am a poet, and a scientist. And then there are many other facets of my personality.
MM: You are currently pursuing your Master’s Degree at St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta after completing your graduation from the same. Can you tell us something about your college life, and how it contributed to your poetic journey?
MB: I think I got incredibly lucky to have studied at St. Xavier’s College. I cannot say much about my M.Sc. classes as they have just started. But, the previous three years as a Bachelor’s student was fantastic—I made the most wonderful friends there. A lot of people say that Xavier’s is a lot like school, and so many disciplines are imposed on us, but coming from a Christian all-girls school like myself, Xavier’s was a world apart for me. Everything was free and so perfect. I was involved in a lot of activities, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the Science Club in my college and the days spent at the college has been the best part of my life.
MM: You have been in numerous literary festivals and poetry reading sessions before being associated with Roots. How has the latter been different from your usual experience?
MB: Roots was wonderful. When it comes to poetry seminars and workshops, I have been to around five or six of them, the last one being organized at IISER Kolkata. It had a student turnout of 30-35, whereas when I came here there were sixty! I was overwhelmed to see so many people interested in poetry. In fact, according to what I learned, if this had not coincided with college fests elsewhere, there could have been a better turnout. Also, students wrote poetry on the spot, which was amazing. I gave them the prompts which were the same, but the way each of them interpreted that was different. Even after my session was done, I stayed there for almost an hour interacting with them, and I am glad that they had as much fun as I did. I feel honoured to have been called here.
MM: How did your develop interest in writing? You started composing poetry very early, but how did you manage to continue it with such dedication even after entering into an academic laden stream?
MB: It was so, as I was passionate about it. When I started writing at the age of 7 years, nobody told me that if you write this poem, you can make it your career by being a graduate in English Literature. There was no pressure for me to make it my career. Poetry stayed with me naturally, almost like breathing. When it came to choosing a career, I chose science, but poetry is something I cannot live without. So, I got used to this lifestyle, following these two in parallel, and I am sure any student like me can relate to this.
MM: Generally, most travel writers and chroniclers tend to stitch up their experiences through diaries, memoirs or essays. You have quite unconventionally mingled your own travelling experiences with your flair for poetry. Since when did you start working with this brand new genre?
MB: I would like to narrate a small story here. It was in 2015, I was on a trip to Kashmir. We were on a bus from Pahelgaon to Srinagar and it was 3 AM in the morning. We had been travelling through dense apple orchards and then suddenly the highway expanded in front of us and there was a sight to behold.
There were huge, expansive fields of saffron, blooming in violet. I immediately asked to stop the bus there, to get down. There was an explosion of colors around me, with the sunrise just happening. I just thought that if this is not inspiration enough then what is?
If I have to describe it in one metaphor, one sentence or even one poem I cannot. So, I had this spontaneous urge to dedicate my life to what I was feeling right then. I have been passionate about travelling for a long time, and I thought dedicating my poetry to this would be a very good tribute. This was also a tribute to my parents, who are avid travellers too, and it is because of them that I get to see most of the places that I do. So, then we started a blog on this that we have been trying to sustain ever since.
MM: How did you start Hue Woman? How has your experience been with the blog?
MB: I started it when I was in college. I was very active updating my blog when I did not have many events in college. But, then so much started happening, in January I was invited to host a festival. I attended a National Poetry Festival, the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Fest, then I travelled for a bit before Roots happened—so many things in one month that it was really hard to maintain a blog. So I thought, after so much travel why not concentrate on successive books now.
MM: Who has provided you the most support in the quest of living your passion?
MB: My parents always have been my foremost supporters. When I was in fourth grade of my schooling, I got my first poem got published. While I was in school, I actively participated in various interschool activities and my parents were very supportive. I qualified for my very first National Level writing during my school days itself. I went to several literary festivals while in college. Throughout, my friends were very supportive, and so were my teachers. For instance, recently our college organized a unique event called ‘Out of the Box’, where they chose 4 student achievers on the stage to talk about their experiences and passions. I was fortunate to be one of those chosen, that they encouraged and believed in my literary work as much as my academics. All in all, it has been supportive all along.
MM: Who are your favourite poets?
MB: First it has to be Agha Shahid Ali, and then of course (Rabindranath) Tagore.
MM: Apart from writing, what is your favorite pastime?
MB: I am trained in Hindustani Classical music, because of my grandmother. I have been learning singing since I was 3 years old! The ragas of Eastern Classical is one of my fortes and I have been exploring Western music as well, so yes singing is definitely one of my passion. There are three of my close friends from my school, one of them moved to Bombay. Still, whenever we meet, we make and upload a random song on social media. This is something we strongly uphold, music helped us befriend each other when we met in school, and music is how we pay tribute to this friendship all the time. I also play the keyboard and the piano, and I love photography. All of these are my major hobbies.
MM: Winding up, what would be your message for the readers, particularly who are aspiring to follow your footsteps from such a technical institute as ours?
MB: I noticed how after my workshop, people approached me and asked me on how to pursue poetry further. This is something I really want them to do, poetry is for them.
If you are interested in poetry go ahead and start writing, write your own book, make your own blog. Do not think about how it sounds because at the end of the day this is how Hemingway told us – ‘The first draft of anything is rubbish’. But that is what leads us to perfect ourselves in future, it is the start that matters.
A literary gemstone, an oratory nightingale and a trained master of versatile artworks, Team MM wishes this budding poet all the best for a bright future ahead.
[To get in touch or to know more, visit https://thehuewoman.wordpress.com ]