Author interview: Poet Richik Banerjee talks about his upcoming book ‘Two Commas & That Voice’
Trans World Features | @twfindia | 27 May 2021
Author interview: Poet Richik Banerjee talks about his upcoming book ‘Two Commas & That Voice’
‘Two Commas & That Voice’ is an anthology that talks about the merits of life from an alternative poetic lens, says poet Richik Banerjee about his upcoming book.

Richik, please tell us something about your book. It is a collection of your poems? Are your poems around a common theme, or what are your poems about? Please tell us a line about some of the poems.


The anthology talks about the merits of life from an alternative poetic lens.


My poems have tried to provide a sensory association of ideas by using the cognitive dissociation of sensibilities as a tool to redo the social ‘extras’.


My lines shout about memory, fantasy, politics, madness, decay, pornography, sex, cartoons, comics, literary figures and a whole bunch of other social motions that perform a decadent kind of poetic justice as some form of distributive heterotopia against the pure and the civil.

Some of the languages used are uncouth and filthy and might cause cultural indigestion to the ‘bhadralok’ (gentleman) communities.


I feel that rhythm has no catalogue of order and this is primarily why poems resonate more with the emotions rather than novels or short stories can.

For example, in a few of my poems, such as in Reach For, Scribble, A. and especially in the first half of the collection, I have tried to provide a sensation of effect and sensory of the affect in a quick run of play, so as to gain a certain velocity in the progression of images.


In the latter half, my compositions, for instance, Delete?, From me?, Anatomy of Love, Why Write?, An Appeal etc. have slightly gone inward where exposition meets self and the general critique of selfhood follows soon after.

Few Characters in search of no Author is a parody of Pirandello where I have localized many literary elements in a domestic space.

The images range from fantasy to reality as if to negate the legislations of life by situating a mirage of fictionalized reality, or, reality of fiction.

Of course, there are topics on history as in Time to go and on politics, like Eat Eat Eat Eat Eat Eat Eat Eat where I have used the materiality of history not as an event of the past but as a production of process that continues to have some literal sense of fictional continuity.

There’s a rhythm in exposition as Maaa!, I Forget, Baazar and Within and a few others have tried to show through a sense of magic realism.


Also, I believe in the death of the author. This gives ample space for my readers to travel as they wish.


Please tell us about yourself. How did you become interested in writing?


I was born and brought up in the city of Kolkata in West Bengal. I passed my ICSE from Calcutta Boys’ School in 2009 and ISC (Science) from St. Paul’s Mission School in 2011. I did my graduation (Hons) in English from St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College which is affiliated to University of Calcutta. I passed out in 2014. Next, I pursued my Masters in English from University of Calcutta. I passed out in 2017 with a first-class degree.


I started teaching in the Department of English at St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College from the middle of December 2017 as a Guest Lecturer. In 2019, I started my PhD work (English) from Amity University, Kolkata, in the discipline of subaltern studies. Currently, I am employed as a State Aided College Teacher (SACT) in the Department of English at St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College, Kolkata.


I have presented/read papers at quite a few international and national seminars. I have published book chapters under international and national publishers of repute and have co-authored a few articles with my students too. I wish to pursue my post-doctoral research in the discipline of pornographic studies and of the body-desire emplotment in the politics of life.


It’s difficult for me to answer about when I started to write or what inspired me to take up writing.


I see this as a fact of life and nothing exclusive about cerebrations or anything.


Writing is living and living is a process and in that process there are functions.

There was no eureka moment I suppose.

As of now, I can talk about poetry and how this anthology inspired me to write.

For me, poems are deep intimate spaces of the minds. Poems are not meant for ‘happy’ readings unless someone writes for social bootlicking.

Rather, poetry serves a specific moral purpose, which is of revelation and anarchy.


With my poetries, I have tried to invest my time in the constructive value of anarchy which has its own policy ‘to connect’ with Being.

In fact, writing, for me, is a kind of practical setup where I don’t escape from reality at all, which, sadly, the conventions tell us.

In fact, writing poetry disturbs my stability as a privileged body and I like to be involved in a mental ellipsis for that matter.

To write is to rewrite and that becomes a never-ending process.


Poetry has a special function to 'connect' with the psyche of the readers as well as provide a cathartic outlet to the poet's metaphysical struggles.


And, the de-stressing by the poet through the medium of composing lines is extremely violent sometimes, almost to the point of acting like a contortionist expert when encountering with the cinema of ‘affect’. For example, in my poem, Why Write? I have tried to present the tragedy of letters as a spiritual negation of the writerly pleasures. There are other influences too.


Is this your first book? If not, please tell our readers the names of your other books. What other books do you plan to write in future? Any plans?


Yes, this is my debut book. I plan to publish my second anthology of poems by the end of this year or by early next year.


Who are your favourite authors and name some of your favourite books.


There is no favorite author of mine. I try to read as much as possible. Of course, there are some usual convicts which most Literature students have read in their UG and PG days. But I am more interested in the timeline of literature.


For example, the modern and postmodern movements, Naxalite movements, communist literature, literature on anarchy, texts on decay, speculation, memory and etc and etc. I am totally in love with the American transcendentalists too as well as with literature where there are no barriers on ‘civil’ languages.


I find having one favourite  author too limiting for a mind. It’s better to be interested in literary periods to have a broader canvas of study. But if you push me, I have to say Raoul Vaneigem as the Situationists are my current scope of study. Also, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Bhagat Singh, Bob Black and many more have supported in igniting my mind.


Who inspires you to write? From among people around you? Also, which authors inspire you and whose writing styles you love to follow?


Life, or the act of living inspires me to write. Its multiple participants inspire me to write.


In fact, the idea of my research proposal germinated from a real event only. I mean, the events have always been there. It’s the sight that catches late due to the cultural block in which we are products of.

I am doing my research on subaltern studies where the basic terminology of the topic becomes problematic for me to situate between the object and the subject.


I don’t necessarily follow anyone’s style of writing. Yes, there are references and borrowings and inspirations from the list I have talked about. But it’s essential to have some sort of uniqueness in the structure, both in terms of writing and in the efficacy of life.

Although, as social equity flows, uniqueness is a state of gaining loss! Still. I am ready to lose.


These days of lockdown, people have difficulty accessing printed books; and are listening to audiobooks through Storytel, Audible etc. apps. Do you have any plans to convert your book into an audiobook alongside the printed book, so more readers can access your writing from their home?


Yes, I will be interested in the audiobook concept. Seems like a flourishing area.


Are any of your poems inspired by real incidents or real people you have come across? Please tell us more about these.


Like I said, I like to speak truth to power. ‘Reality’ and ‘events’ are loaded discourses which are best left for the historians to engage with. Here, I have tried to use my sense of awareness in my own peculiarity. There are several chronotopes where I have used both the East and West cultures as a slideshow of fantastical madness within a ‘real’ framework.


It seems you are inclined to Communism; how does that affect your thinking and your poems?


Socialism is a way of life. It’s a system of ethical practice. Communism is more than just having a political affiliation to a party.

I won’t go into too much detail about the political plotlines and because communism has branched out into numerous quasi-socialist parties, it will be difficult for me to address your question directly.


In my anthology, there are obvious references to Communism but I have tried to use the idea as stylistic backdrops. There is no dogmatism about it. I have consciously moved away from the propagandist forum of thought.


Certainly there are expressions of the red tide and red leanings, but I guess, it will be easier for my readers to read those references not from any face value. It’s more of an ethical urgency and not about political malignancy.


You are part of a faculty; how do you manage time in between your work to write?


I am pursuing my PhD from Amity University. I am a faculty member at St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College in the Department of English.


There is nothing to manage as I don’t see writing to be separated from my space of work.


Also, I don’t necessarily believe in the idea of my work to be a labour inducing principle of the state.

Rather, I have been fortunate enough to do what I like and coincidentally, my passion has turned out to be my profession. So, this is no work for me; there’s only play.