Tikuli Dogra is no stranger to words and poetry which she spurns to perfection on her blog. She doesn’t need an introduction for her poetry work and short stories have been published in various media outlets and and literary magazine in India and across the globe such as The Smoking Book, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology and the much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul, Silence Is White, Melange, and kaafiyana. The author whose first book was ‘Collection of Chaos’ way back in 2014 speaks about her latest poetry book, ‘Wayfaring’ where she bears her heart open in a heart-warming chat about how she channels pain and angst into poetry.
- Your poetry book, ‘Wayfaring’ brings to form various layers of emotions right from pain to relationships, travel and the angst of exile. Can you share the journey behind the making of the book?
Most of the poems in this book were written over a period of time and not specifically with a book in mind. Some were published in various Indian and international journals over a period of few years. When it was time for another book of my poems my idea was to try to be forward-looking. My first book ‘Collection of Chaos’ was cathartic in many ways and for this new book I wanted to experiment with forms and explore other areas of my life that had brought calm and positivity to that chaos. I began to write poems that were more than just elegiac. There is a good measure of anger in Wayfaring’, a form of protest. There is a constant intermingling of past and present in this collection, a sense of a renewed nostalgia for things that are lost and the excitement for the new beginnings. So, ‘Wayfaring’ is essentially about movement. It is about journeys, both physical and metaphysical. The poems have both history and landscape running through them. Most of the poems are reflections of my own journey as a woman, lover, dreamer, wanderer and storyteller.
- The human soul is lonely even when surrounded by a gamut of feelings and emotions inhabited by ordinary mortals. As a poet, what part loneliness played in your life that found expression and the right tune in your writing?
Loneliness has played a major role in most of my writing, especially for my two books of poetry. Acceptance of who we are and where we are makes it easy to see what’s beyond grief and sadness. There is so much we miss out on when we are constantly mulling over the past. I have experienced what it is from both sides and Wayfaring is the result of a much more positive attitude towards myself and to life in general. One must never lose the sense of possibilities. That’s the healing that comes from within. I have tried to work that around in the poems in ‘Wayfaring’. Most of the poems in the book are intensely personal and at times I have used nature or another element as a mask to enable me to write about private feelings but mostly the poems are all about ‘laying bare’, befriending oneself and realizing that this difficult phase in life is intrinsic to being alive. This shift in thinking changed my perspective completely and when you read the poems you will see what I mean.
- You have published a host of poems in several publications and penned several articles on sensitive issues such as child abuse and gender. How much of the pain incurred by victims has influenced your work of poetry?
It is difficult to feel the trauma and pain of someone who has gone through abuse of any kind. The impact of any sort of violation can be considerable and each survivor has his/her own theory of pain which is tough to express to others and yet their stories need to be told, they need to be passed on to the next generation and to everyone who will read them, through poetry and prose. The pain, the longing, the suffering, everything must be taken forward and never forgotten. I have had my share of violations and maybe that connected me more closely to others who had suffered. Poetry is also a form of protest and as poets it is our responsibility to keep writing about all the social issues that matter and voice our anger where and when required.
- Your first book, a collection of poems, ‘Collection of Chaos’ first hit the stands in 2014. Would you say that Wayfaring is a sequel to the first book and what defines this unique collection of poetry?
I won’t say it is a sequel to ‘Collection of Chaos’ but yes, it takes up from where the pain ends. Over the years my urge to pour out angst has receded and I began to explore the beauty of life through words even when those words touch on past events. I wrote these poems to break through the barriers that fill us and surround us, to harness the pain and use it to create something beauteous. It was a challenge I was keen to take up and it is what makes the book unique.
- For many poets, there is something deep and soulful or scars which marks a turning a point to channelize energies into words. What was it in your case?
A lot of losses at personal level especially the loss of my first love and then my unsatisfactory and troubled marriage, the daily search for myself, a woman lost under the layers of responsibilities, made me channel my energies into words. I had to fight for my freedom and dignity at many levels and needed to be heard and understood. Blogging helped me do that a great deal, long before I became a published author. Turning life experiences into verses and speaking about one’s open wounds is always difficult and yet therapeutic at the same time. There were times I left the poems unfinished to collect myself and come back to them with a calm and focused approach. I have learned to make vulnerability my strength. In the last ten years I have slowly released the past hurts, angst, anger and sorrow so that I can give way to something more positive and essential to the art of living and learning.
PS: The interview was done via email with Tikuli Dogra.