Wednesday, November 1, 2023







NilavroNill: Welcome to Our Poetry Archive, dear poet. And congratulations as the poet of this month. I would like to know your personal views on literature or poetry in general.

LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: Thank you so much for inviting me as the Poet of the Month and giving me this wonderful opportunity to share my personal views on literature, poetry and their deep connectivity with life. As a Humanist cum Feminist Poet (though I do not prefer labels but use them only to facilitate general understanding) I have always believed in my Pen and Voice as instruments of Artistic, Human and Social Transformations. Poetry is the original Literary expression of Man, since the Vedic Sage-Poets wrote in India as also the Poetry written in ancient civilizations like those of Sumeria, Babylon, Greece etc. Fiction, Essays and Prose Literature arrived much later, sometime around the 17th century. This perhaps is the pivotal point which often makes readers avoid or misconstrue the sublime, or sometimes cryptic language of Poetry which is, however, the essence and substance of great and timeless literature.  As a Poet, Academic and Litterateur, I do feel agonised when I see established publishing houses banning poetry as a “commodity” which does not “sell” or Universities cutting down on the number of Books of Poetry in the syllabus or Students, Teachers and our Reading Public evading Poetry like some incomprehensible stuff, hardly visible in the bookshelves of regular bookstores. I am grateful to wise Poet-Publishers like you, who keep the lamp of Poetry alive as the Soul of Humanity.


NilavroNill: Is it possible to put into the words everything that as a poet you wish to express literarily? If not, why?


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: It is impossible to express everything “literarily” in poetry, simply because Poetry is a deeply Creative Art-Form born of the human soul, imagination and refined brain, a disembodied transcendence though deeply and intangibly integrated with our human/ socio-cultural world of living experiences. Hence its diction, expression is both in the sphere of spontaneous art and esoteric, cultivated craft, as simple as it is elevated. In Creative Writing there are submerged or invisible spaces between the lines, in the metaphors, similes, symbols and images, which the reader deciphers through reading repeatedly or training in creative writing. The text of Poetry is as important as its sub-text and meta-text since Poetry is more about the Unsaid than the Said. It is like a verbal painting or an emotive musical rhapsody in which the word-pictures, like notes of music, merge to resonate in the human heart and brain creating waves of intense joy or agony. Prosaic/ grand statements in poetry or even unintelligible cerebral poetry (on two opposite sides of the spectrum) used regrettably by many, are, to my mind, not poetry at all. 


NilavroNill: What are the factors that have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life. When, most probably you were not certain of your future as a poet or writer. Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping up you as a poet, or your poetry altogether?


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: As I said earlier, Life and Literature or Poetry are mirror-images of each other. There is no Literature, especially Poetry in the world, which is not a reflection of living/ biographical experiences. I would state that my childhood has had an immense impact on my Poetry and Music, as I became a child-artiste at seven in the All-India Radio Calcutta as much as a child –poet writing lines on pieces of paper, which my mother would collect and store as if they were precious gems. The atmosphere at home was very conducive to my Creative Growth as a Poet and Artiste. It was full of Poetry and Music Recitals daily in the evenings with so many Writers-Meet and Musical Soirees during intermittent Sundays or holidays at home, creating naturally an ebullient atmosphere of Creativity for a child like me, growing up in this ambience. My grandfather’s and later on, my father’s regular resonating renditions of Sanskrit Slokas from the Gita, with Bangla and English Poems of Tagore, Wordsworth and Shelley along with soirees and meets at home regularly influenced me totally as a growing child and adolescent. Later in life, my university days both as a Young Lecturer and much later as a Professor, Head of the Department of English & Cultural Studies and Vice Chancellor, I lived through the bleak and seamy side of things, though with a bright mixture of Fellowships, Awards, and Global Assignments coming my way, often very unexpectedly. I gradually learnt to steer my boat firmly with Poetry and Music as my leavening instruments and solace of life. However quite a few events of darkness have continued to overwhelm me in life as I have slowly learnt the art of Time and Trauma Management with Poetry as my prime Survival Strategy…. not to forget my Vocal Music & Academics, all evocative triggers of my mind and heart. 


NilavroNill: Do you consider your literary life as an extension of your self-existence? If so, how it is related with the time around you? 


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: Yes, I do believe that in this contemporary world, my literary life is an extension of my self-existence. Poets, I believe, have never lived in ivory towers or exclusive spaces. Rather their involvement with their life and times had made Shelley remark “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. Their imagination, sagacity and creative impulse are refined filters for humanity to find their way through the darkness with the lodestar and lighthouses of Poetry. As a Poet, I am engulfed in both agony and bewilderment in this present atmosphere of rising intolerance in a conflict-ridden world. On the one hand we are trying to find a utopia in thinking we have conquered the moons, stars and galaxies of the cosmos. On the other hand we have to deal with the rising hubris of Man, the dystopia of his human insensitivity, non-spiritualism, non-aestheticism and environmental ravages with Annihilation of the human race a lingering fear in our minds. A lot of my recent poetry deals with such devastating and ongoing predilections. While Science and Technology were meant to be facilitators of Human knowledge, these are now considered to be Knowledge itself, with monsters of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Cloning superseding the centrality of Poetry, Philosophy, Literature and overall Humanities. So as a Poet and Litterateur I can never dissociate myself and my writings from such a ruinous prospect of human extinction, looming large as our (God forbid) possible future.


NilavroNill: Do you agree with John Keats (1795-1821) on his ardent believe, “Truth is beauty, beauty is truth”? Even if we take for instance the war of Kurukshetra, the conflicts between Kauravas and Pandavas, or the fall out of Second World War in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how can we manage to reconcile between those truths with beauty as promulgated by Keats? 


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: A very good question! This Keatsian line from his Ode on a Grecian Urn is an echo of our Indian axiom ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ or that which is True is also Divine and Beautiful. In analysing our Epics like the Ramayana or Mahabharata, we learn through these allegories, myths or pre-historical lore that despite the dark ugliness of life, Truth and Beauty ultimately prevails. Even in real life, we have seen the wonderful Rise of Man from the ashes of the World Wars with the formation of the United Nations and the Progress of countries like Japan, USA, Germany and to some extent India. Despite the lurking fear of nuclear warfare, nations and communities have realised the overarching Need for Peace, Good Will and International Understanding. So Truth is always Beautiful and Divine, while utopia goes through dystopia, only to return to utopia, which is a natural creed of sentient beings. This is the cycle of Life and Creation which often takes centre-stage in my poetry. For me, Negativism and Darkness always oscillates, wavers and then returns to Light, Hope and Positivism. The reconciliation of Beauty and Truth is naturally inevitable for the sustenance of Life.


NilavroNill: As a poet, do socio-economy and politics in general influence your literary visions? If so how, and if not, why?


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: As I said earlier, Poetry is never an exclusionist, segregated or isolated human endeavour. It remains deeply connected with the real world in a refined sense, often elevated through imaginative, mystic or surreal elements. Yes some of my poetry is deeply influenced by politics and social injustice while the other part of my poetry remains spiritualist, profound or perhaps the pure joy of aestheticism. It is perhaps a blend and balance which happens quite innately in my poems. However, I believe, my poetic vision acts as a sieve to delineate as well as filter out the negativism of actual human affairs in our political, socio-economic world to arrive at redemptive stasis of my poetry, which then becomes reformative in a subtle way.


NilavroNill: Do you believe, passionately falling in love with a particular language is essential to excel in poetical ventures? And is it possible to write poems in multiple languages preserving same literary quality? We would like to know your own experiences.


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: Yes, I do believe I am passionately in love with the English language, primarily due to my environment/ ambience at home as well as my upbringing in a convent school of Irish and Polish nuns. Though it is true that I never learnt any other language academically in school or college, (alternative English always being my second language) I sincerely believe that the home ambience of Multi-Lingual Writers’ Meets and Poetry  cum Music recitals of English, Bangla and even Sanskrit Slokas (Sanskrit being the parental Fountain-head of many languages), not to forget the predominance of Tagore in the Poetry and Music renditions of my elders (my Mother being a singer herself) or such other aural or oral performance Arts in soirees and baithaks at home including stages, radio and record players made me thoroughly nourished   perhaps even gather some kind of literary expertise in Bangla. Hindi, Sanskrit and Urdu (through ghazals) as well, I guess----though not the kind of perfection I may have in English. I must state here, most humbly, that some of my Bangla or even Hindi poems are often appreciated by those who are adept in these languages. I believe sharpened language and literary skill always facilitates the proper use of multiple languages-----perhaps a phenomenon of the human brain we may not be able to understand.


NilavroNill: Do you think honest literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry? 


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: Yes definitely….. I mean constructive Literary Criticism, which includes analytical elements with examples and suggestions of betterment in terms of diction, idiomatic expressions, structural as well as thematic content. However Literary Criticism is applicable to the greatest of iconic poets and it certainly implies Critical Analysis with alternative vision as a Reader-----or the Inter-activity of Author and Reader. Since Poetry is both a Personal and an Universal Art form, well-meant constructive inputs (with alternative suggestions of critical thinking) are always welcome for better output.


NilavroNill: Do you believe, literature can eventually help people to uplift human conscience?


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: I sincerely believe in the uplift of our conscience and consciousness through Literature/ Poetry……since Aestheticism and Spiritualism are two sides of the same coin….hence the elevation of Humanity through Literature and vice versa, is natural. Literature and Humanity are mirror-images of each other or perhaps interconnected through bridges of living experiences and self-realization. Literature is, undoubtedly, the most significant instrument of Love, Peace and Social Transformation.


NilavroNill: I would like to know, whether your contemporaries inspire your writings in any way.


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: Yes, of course, some of them do. I am very often inspired by contemporary literature being written in India and all across the globe. However, since it is true that Literature never exists in a vacuum and always has a legacy, which is followed consciously or unconsciously through the ages, some of my Predecessors have impacted me deeply. As a Learner, Mentor, Student and Professor of English Literature, obviously Legends of yesteryears have left indelible imprints on my writing----whether it be Keats or Shakespeare, Shelley, Eliot, Yeats, Neruda, Ginsberg, Florence Howe, Margaret Atwood, Jayanta Mahapatra, Keki Daruwalla, Meena Alexander, Amitava Ghosh, or the American Transcendentalists or Feminist and Confessional Women Poets like Kamala Das, Meena Alexander, Eunice De Souza. Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath and so many, who awaken my Humanist as well as belligerent Feminist/ Female Consciousness as well. Among my colleagues and living poets I feel inspired particularly by the poetry of Sukrita Paul Kumar, Vinita Agarwal, Anita Nahal, Santosh Bakaya and many more. However despite these factors, I believe I have my own style of writing, perhaps with a predominance of images, symbols, metaphors creating verbal paintings with layered and highly textured, subterranean meanings. I believe Poetry is more about the Unsaid (implied or hidden meanings and nuances) rather than that which is Said (directly stated without any connotations, or rhetorical subtleties or symbolism).


NilavroNill: According to Tagore, poetry is essentially something to enjoy and not to comprehend mere meanings. What are your thoughts on this regard? What do you expect from your readers, should they enjoy your poems more than comprehend the essential meanings or both?


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: I think both are important facets of the appreciation of literature, poetry or any Art Form. Enjoying the thrill and the pleasure of Poetry as well as understanding or trying to configure the essentially embedded and submerged meanings in it. ------the Art, Craft, Rhapsody and Profundity of Poetry completes the process of enjoyment and comprehension.


NilavroNill: As a Bangali, we all are familiar with that famous and over referred quote of poet Jibananda Das that, not all are poets but only a few are. Can we replace poets with readers and come to the same conclusion? If yes, what are your expectations from your readers? 


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: I think good poets are still rare and irreplaceable. Well, in the contemporary world of Literature, good readers are also good critics and analysts of writings. Hence Readers are necessary for the appreciation and evolution of Good Writers/ Poets/ Performers. . As Tagore said “ Ekaki Gayoker nohe Gaan”….. may be loosely interpreted as a good audience, listener or reader is as important as the Writer or Musician or Poet himself/ herself. The Creative Author and the Reader complement each other as a whole------in this Totality, both have to be necessarily Good. A Bad Reader makes a Bad Author and vice versa. I believe in this entire sphere, constant diligence for improvement and rigorous training, despite having instinctual or inherent excellence of creativity, is urgently required. Both Readers and Writers need to constantly move ahead on the path of betterment to make Literature beautifully fruitful for the Up-gradation of Humanity.


NilavroNill: Being a Bangali by birth, you are writing your poems in a foreign language like English. Incidentally, which is a colonial language in this part of the world. Again, not only you, many others are extensively writing in this colonial language. Do you consider, that your writings will remain segregated as Indian English literature or will it be accepted as an integral part of European and/or American English literature? Or would you consider that, during last hundred years, English literature has been extended beyond the realm of Europe and America? Although I don’t know how British or American perceives all these, but I would like to know how a contemporary Indian poet writing in English interprets all these.


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: There is a slight problem in this question and in the understanding of English today, mistakenly as a language of the colonizer. As a long-term University Professor of English & Cultural Studies, I believe your Question is as important as my Answer, for people to know and clear their doubts and misgivings. Firstly, in most or all Indian Universities & Colleges, the Departments of English have now acquired the appellation of Departments of English and Cultural Studies. This is simply because English is no longer a Colonial Language and has expanded far beyond the limited shores or horizons of the small British Isles. Today English has incorporated within itself a vast and limitless storehouse of Words in the English Dictionary, incorporated profusely from all cultures and countries of the world, wherever the British Raj left its imprint. Hence English today is not a Colonial but a Contemporary Global Language in this New World of ours. English does not belong to the English alone or any more but to the entire World of varied cultures----hence our departments are today known as Departments of English and Cultural Studies (since a language is the face of a culture). Because the English ruled so widely in a vast empire (of course more with fraud and chicanery rather than any small gesture of benevolence), they have lost their ownership of the specificity of British English-----So now we have many “Englishes” with diverse Cultural flavours and specificities. Hence today we have Indian English, American English, Canadian English, African English, Australian English, Caribbean English, so on and so forth------each having its own literature, poetry, colour, flavour and uniqueness within a general framework of English. Hence, I am proud to be an Indian-English Author/ Poet and the best and most Awarded Writers today are proudly our Indian-English Writers----starting from Vikram Seth, Amitava Ghosh, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and the List goes on.  I wish to remain always and forever an Indian-English Author, who is not just accepted but respected all across the globe.


NilavroNill: We are almost at the end of the interview. I remain obliged to you for your participation. Now, personally I would like to know your honest opinion about Our Poetry Archive. Since April 2015 we are publishing and archiving contemporary world poetry each and every month. Thank you for sharing your views and spending much time with us.


LAKSMISREE BANERJEE: Thank you so much for this opportunity for putting across my views in this Interview and for asking me such apt, meaningful and right questions. I have been reading quite a lot of your OPA, at least for the last two years and have great respect for E-zines such as yours, carrying on for years with such unfailing ardour and enterprise for the benefit of our Human Race and Civilization. We have a conflict-ridden world today and it is only such Creative Endeavours as yours, that would hopefully make a better World of Peace, Good Will and International Understanding. In the end it is Literature that will win ultimately and certainly not Politics, Religion or Fake Diplomatic Missions. Finally and of course as John Keats said “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty / That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know” .



Prof. Dr. LAKSMISREE BANERJEE is a Multiple Award-Winning Poet /Author, Literary Critic, Educationist, Editor and Practicing Radio & TV Vocalist with several National and International Publications, Assignments & Awards to her credit. She is an International Senior Fulbright Scholar, Commonwealth Scholar and National Scholar from the Calcutta University, a UGC Post-Doctoral Research Awardee and Former Vice Chancellor & Pro Vice Chancellor of Kolhan University, Eastern India. As a University Professor of English & Cultural Studies, Dr. Banerjee has lectured and recited in premier Universities of the world.  She has Nine Books of Poetry (with Two more forthcoming) and One Hundred Twenty Academic Publications including Books. Among her several Awards, a few need special mention---- viz. she is the Recipient of Two International Awards for Lifetime Achievement in Art & Literature, International Panorama Award for Poetry, Kala Ratnam Award, Asian Literary Society Women Achievers’ Award, Connoisseur of Literary Arts of Asia & Tunisia Award, Literoma Laureate Award for Lifetime Achievement, Sahitya Akademi’s Avishkar Award as “a Scholar-Artiste & Poet Musician”, the prestigious UGC Postdoctoral Research Award for her path-breaking Work on Comparative Studies of World Women Poets  and many other Awards over the years  An active Rotarian (Multiple Paul Harris Fellow) and a Former Nominee of the Indian Rashtrapati on several Central University Boards, Dr. Banerjee is passionate about using the potency of her Pen and Voice for Social Transformations and International Peace/Good Will.




  1. Love this interview

  2. powerful interview

  3. Excelente entrevistador y entrevistada, que permite ver la,amplia cultura de la entrevistada y nos ayuda en el eejercicio y mejora de nuestro arte literario, gracias OPA por compartir.