A poet who believes poetry is ageless, Sonnet Mondal is one of the noted younger generation Indian English poets who has been published widely across North America, Europe, and Asia, and has been translated into many languages including Italian, Turkish, Slovenian, Slovakian, Hindi, Hungarian, Arabic, and Spanish among others. Known for the famous Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Mondal edits the Indian section of Lyrikline Poetry Archive, Berlin (Haus für Poesie). He led an Indian cultural delegation to the Ars Poetica International Festival, Slovakia in November 2016 and read at the 2017 edition of the Cork International Poetry Festival, Ireland. Winner of the 2016 Gayatri Gamarsh Memorial award for literary excellence, Mondal represented India at the 10th year anniversary edition of the International Istanbul Poetry and Literature Festival and remains as an advisor for many lit fests.
Talking about poets and poetry, Mondal says,
‘A poet isn’t someone sitting in some corner of the road, writing something on anything that he sees there. A poet is a researcher of emotions. A poet’s eye is his sensitivity, and together with intellect he creates an aperture through which readers can discern, that everything that we sense is not everything’.
The poet adds,
‘It is not wise to be obvious in poetry, but it is also not suitable to neglect the obvious.’
For readers, Sonnet says,
‘Poetry should be read to relish the unsaid and inconclusive’.
A poet who recently conducted poetry writing workshops at this year’s Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, believes, ‘Poetry is something that cannot be taught. Those aspiring to write poetry already have something poetic within them. Workshops are meant to show upcoming poets — the contours of contemporary poetry.’
About recognition the poet remains silent and then adds, ‘they are indeed special and sometimes warm’. Without naming any poet as his inspiration, Sonnet says, ‘Poetry itself is the inspiration for me. The form, the way it allows us to open up, the way its sublimity touches the thinnest chords of emotion — this genre itself has inspired me to delve deeper into its depths.’
A poet who has already read at literary festivals from Macedonia to Cork, Ireland; from Istanbul, Turkey to Granada, Nicaragua; and from Sri Lanka to Slovakia, Mondal feels — ‘there is a feeling among general masses that poets are solitary beings. But the fact is — from the ancient Greek and Sicilian schools of poetry to the present day poetry gatherings — poets have crossed borders, to know, decipher and understand other cultures through poetry. These festivals serve as the base — of a global cultural brotherhood. These festivals sometimes travel beyond the boundaries of literature, and contributes — to our sense of knowing rather than information based knowledge.’ Among other poets, the poet loves reading Robert Frost, Jibananda Das, Tagore, Neruda, Tomas Transtromer, W.B. Yeats, W.H. Auden, Seamus Heaney, and among contemporaries — Brian Turner, Paul Muldoon, K Satchidanandan, Jayanta Mahapatra, Yusef Komunyakaa and the list goes on.
Adding to his experience while hearing and reading poets from other countries, Sonnet says, ‘While reading someone from a completely different backdrop, one should be free from preconceived ideas and read with a feeling to know other cultures, which is best expressed through this genre.’
One of the authors of Silk Routes Project, IWP, University of IOWA Sonnet Mondal is the 2018 writer in residence at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA in creative writing program. He is currently working on his upcoming book of poems which evokes ‘Knowing is not Knowledge’.
Excerpt from Sonnet’s upcoming book Karmic Chanting:
If I could
If I were a traveling air
without any bony cage
moral circuits and routes
blowing to the will of paddy fields
smelling the intercourse
of grassroots with wet soil
I would swoop and lift the infant souls
of dead harvested crops
fetching them again to their seeds
and allow them to breathe me again.