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A Defining Moment: An Interview with Piya Ghosh Sikdar

A special feature of Piya Ghosh Sikdar, interviewed by our Contributing Editor/Interviewer, Carl Scharwath. Included, poems and paintings by the artist/poet. Carl Scharwath: This morning I want to introduce Piya Ghosh Sikdar to our ILA Magazine readers. I am grateful to have met this amazing Doctor, multi linguist, artist and poet. We will start with her bio:
Piya Ghosh Sikdar was born in Kolkata, India and lived in New Delhi, India for a long time before settling down in Kolkata. She is essentially a medical practitioner practicing general medicine for the last 35 years after her graduation from Calcutta Medical College and later post-graduation in Tropical Medicine. By profession a doctor, and by passion, a poet, she writes in three languages, English, Hindi and Bengali, her mother tongue. Her poetry has been published in anthologies both nationally and internationally. She has won awards in various poetry groups and platforms, too. She is also a painter doing artwork in ink, watercolor and pastel colors.

Good morning Piya, I am honored for your time today and am happy to interview you for our ILA readers. My first question is this:

Carl: Please tell us how you first got started writing poetry and what is your process to construct a poem?
Piya: I first started writing poetry at the age of seven in Bengali, my mother tongue inspired by my mother. Art was my first love really and two rhyming lines uttered by my mother regarding a pastel work of mine triggered me to write my first short rhyming poem. After that I started writing both in English and Bengali. I wrote Hindi poems much later. Perhaps poetry and art runs in my blood because my grandmother (father's mother) was a poet, artist and musician and that too in India at a time when women hardly had any education.
Carl: You speak three languages, is there one you prefer to write in and why?
Piya: Though I speak three languages, I prefer writing in English because in India, people belonging to the middle and upper class are taught English as our main language since early childhood. In fact, I have read more English books than in Bengali, my mother tongue or Hindi, our national language. Hence, I am more comfortable thinking and writing in English.
Carl: I am sure you know of William Carlos Williams who was also a doctor and poet. Who are your favorite poets and how does their work inspire you?
Piya: Honestly, I didn't know about William Carlos Williams the doctor poet till now. My favorite poets are Wordsworth, Blake, Tennyson, Coleridge, Shelly, Keats, Alfred Noyes and others and Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver and Sylvia Plath in the recent times. I would be ungrateful if I didn't mention the names of the Indian poet and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore and the rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam who was imprisoned during British rule. These poets have greatly influenced my thought process through adolescence and adulthood. All the above poets by their themes, ideas, vocabulary, word choices, form and flow have been my muse, inspiration and guide. It's not only poets, but many Indian wandering minstrels who roam the streets of cities and villages, compose and sing amazing songs and also many folk and other song writers have also influenced my thoughts so much. Carl: What is your best advice for a new poet or writer?
Piya: My best advice to new writers would be to read and imbibe because there's no other way to absorb and create. Most importantly, they should be their own natural selves and develop a style of their own rather than copy other poets. Originality stands out in a crowd. Grammatical errors are a real eyesore. Brushing up on grammar is essential if one is weak in grammar. One should be highly observant of one's surroundings and nature. A muse comes in many different forms and disguises. Instead of using difficult and bombastic words, writing should be simple, beautiful and appealing to the reader.
Carl: We share a love of writing and painting. Have you considered incorporating both into one art form?
Piya: The idea of incorporating writing and painting into one art form has come to my mind but I don't know how to do it. I am keen to do the same if I am helped at it.
Carl: Tell us Piya, what do you like best about our ILA Group and Magazine?
Piya: What I like about ILA group and magazine is that it is different from the rest of the poetry groups on FB. I like the interactive sessions there, the tidbits about grammar posted now and then are very interesting and the encouragement that is given to the poets and artists is commendable. It provides a good platform for them to give expression to their feelings.

Carl: Thank you for your time today, Piya. Annette and I are happy you are part of our family and we look forward to hearing great things about you. STRIGINE

When the sultry darkness of the night
Commands stars to descend
The wisdom of your miniature avian brain
Illuminates the paths of wayward souls
While you trace Kabbalah syllables in midair
By the trajectory of your silent seraphic flights...
The mute melodies of your amber eyes
And the nocturne clinging to your talons and tail
Fan feathers of the spirit essence of mortals
Who need to transcend and evolve
Upon your consolidated prophecies
And cosmic visions...


The fragile grasslands are no homelands
Where the sun spews fire
From its dragon mouth
The wind is a scream of pandemonium
The clouds are receptacles of reluctant rain
The bushes are burnt embers Of hollow howls and insomniac nights
Intruding upon the ache of shedding antlers
And barren herbivore dreams...

Starvation and survival of the fittest
Are the only possibilities in the Savannah
Nature tangles the fortunes of claws, teeth and hooves
Life is a game won or lost
Between the predator and the prey -
An imprint of hungry calligraphy
In crimson syllables of blood
On death's sombre landscape...


The hum, the whistle, the croon, the rhythm
Do you hear the kettle sing?
Watch the water boil
Look how the tea leaves sweat and toil...
Darjeeling, Assam, Earl Grey or Orange Pekoe
What would your preference be?
Light aromatic leaf tea
Blended in the right ratio
With strong flavored dust tea?
Would you like sugarless black tea
Or a light tangy lemon tea?
Or a rich creamy sweetened milk tea?

You'd love the energizing Kashmiri Kahwa Chai
How about peppermint tea to elevate your mood
And make your heart sing?
Chamomile tea is a sure remedy for migraine
Try green tea for weight loss
And exotic kesar (saffron) chai
As your poetic muse
And even as an aphrodisiac
Or to make a first date memorable...


Night comes with its charcoal darkness
And telltale emptiness
Spectral shadows, sentient sighs and sorrow dreams
Drift on disfigured clouds...
Mutilated metaphors of my only muse
Do a primitive dance
With the paradoxical winds...

Secret of a solo love
Caught in the intersection of a storm's premonition
And echoes of bat wings' flutter
Is forever mummified in its own silent screams
A maniac moon's melodrama
Dissolves in the night owl's loveless stare...

Countless faces...innumerable names
But nobody illumined your soul
The way I do...


Below, we have added a "slideshow" of Piya's paintings. If you want to see the images in full view, just a click will do.

About our Contributing Editor/Interviewer, Carl Scharwath:

Carl Scharwath is from the sunshine state of Florida. He is the Art Editor of Minute Magazine, a Contributing Editor/Interviewer of ILA Magazine and Contributing Editor/Interviewer of CreatiVIngenuitiy Magazine. His work appears globally, with 150+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays art/photography and most recently, plays. Carl is the author of seven (3 literary and 4 photography) books.

A Defining Moment: An Interview with Piya Ghosh Sikdar
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