Micro Interview with Kiriti Sengupta

Welcome to World Inkers Network’s first micro interview. We discuss poetry’s place in the world as well as publishing with Kiriti Sengupta. Kiriti Sengupta, the 2018 Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize recipient, has poems published in The CommonThe Florida Review OnlineHeadway QuarterlyThe LakeAmethyst ReviewInk Sweat, and Tears, OtolithsOutlook, Madras Courier, and elsewhere. He has authored eleven books of poetry and prose; two books of translation; and edited eight anthologies. Sengupta is the founder and chief editor of the Ethos Literary Journal. He lives in New Delhi.

Dustin Pickering: How do you balance your publishing efforts with the spirit of composing your own works? Do the two realms ever contrast or do they affirm one another?

Kiriti Sengupta: It isn’t easy. And to call it tough is an understatement. Bitan and I run Hawakal aggressively throughout the year. We have no break time — we don’t close our submission window and are deluged with submissions. Although we have a dedicated editorial team that decides the merit of a proposal, it’s always the two of us taking the final call. So, it is time-consuming and taxing as well. Under these circumstances, we try to extract a little time for our creative work. We aren’t successful every time we attempt to compose, but we enjoy a reasonably bright success-to-failure ratio.  

Dustin Pickering: How do you view poetry’s role in social progress? You are neither a political poet nor a religious poet. How does your poetry fit into literary tradition if you had to frame it?

Kiriti Sengupta: Poetry renders a platform to register and raise your voice. Whether it can influence social progress is debatable. I’ll quote a recent comment by contemporary poet Durga Prasad Panda who believes I “pick everyday trivialities to elevate them to poetry.”

Dustin Pickering: What would you advise a young writer who is trying to break through in getting their work published? Is there a surefire way to fame or does it matter for the writer’s career?

Kiriti Sengupta: Read more modern poetry from different corners of the world. Learn to write and unlearn what you’ve acquired from your reading. Never stop submitting to journals and magazines, even if it subjects you to brutal rejections. There is no shortcut to being famous. You can find your way to being alone.

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