Author Interview: Gopa Bhattacharjee
English Poet Gopa Bhattacharjee is born and brought up in Kolkata. She is an entrepreneur and has been the Director of a Private Limited Manufacturing Company for the past 22 years. But she is passionate and enthusiastic about weaving poetry relating to the realities of lives and diversities of nature. She completed her Masters in English and has been a part-time teacher trainer in CMTC for many years and also a lecturer in IGNOU.
She has been the guest poet in many poetry meets in and out of Kolkata. She is one of the leading actors and producers of ‘Kolkata Cocktail’, the short poetry film presented by ICCR. Her poetry has been published in various national and international magazines, journals like Different Truths, Our Poetry Archive, The Raven Claw (Germany), Soflay.Inc ( Mexico), Universal Culturi (Poland), IPPL journal December 2019 and also in an anthology named “Muffled Moans Unleashed “.
She has been the featured poet at the American Consulate, Kolkata Lit Meet 2020, Nagar Kirrtibas and many other cultural meets in and out of Kolkata. Her poetry book UNTURNED VERSES was published in Kolkata International Book Fair 2020
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Gopa Bhattacharjee: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Gopa: I think in order to express through writing one needs to read plenty of books of different genres and deeply contemplate those writings.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Gopa: I mostly write in my Samsung notes and then sometimes in poetry copies later I share them on different social site platforms.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Gopa: Well, most of my ideas I get by interacting with different kinds of people and also through self experiences.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Gopa: Of course, writing poetry energizes me.
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Gopa: It took me almost three years to compile my poems and then publish my first debut book UNTURNED VERSES from Zahir publication which was launched in International Kolkata Book Fair 2020.
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Gopa: I have a deep regret that I should have read more books. I feel that I should have observed life more closely, realize my ability as a writer and also be able to memorize and feel my past events more deeply.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Gopa: This is such a difficult question. I have a list of my favorite childhood books but yes I think to name one I would say its THAKUMAR JHULI written by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder based on Bengali folk tales and fairy tales.
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Gopa: My favorite literary journals have been Desh Patrika, The Times, Little Magazines. At present, I read a lot of online literary journals like Raven Cage Zine, Café Dissensus. Our Poetry Archive, Different Truths and lots more
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Gopa: At present situation I want a more peaceful mind to be able to express better and also would love to give up the daily balance sheet and calculations of life.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Gopa: Through poetry, I think the hardest scene to write is when I am expressing the dark truth that might be relatable to a few people close to me.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Gopa: No, I have never googled myself.
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Gopa: Absolutely since my poems are mostly confessional in nature they have reference of people known to me as well as close to me.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Gopa: Yes, I love to read reviews of my book. Both good and bad reviews help me to analyse myself. I learn from them.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Gopa: At present, I am reading Mahabharater Astadashi ( eight female mythological characters in Mahabharata ) by Nrisinghaprasad Bhaduri and the style of writing and analyzing those characters are so uniquely presented that it has inspired me to publish my next poetry book based on mythology.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Gopa: I think I have edited one or two poems from my debut book UNTURNED VERSES which I plan to include in my second edition.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Gopa: Whenever I can I write, there is no particular time or space. It is just a flow of feelings at any moment it can mingle in my mind and immediately I write it down.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Gopa: I am still a part-time writer, I wish I was a full time one.
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Gopa: Writing poems that are close to my heart come to me like a whiff of a wind and I pen down. But yes I did read a lot of mythological books to be able to write my second book which is still under process.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Gopa: Nowadays marketing books is easier through social media platforms. But the best way is to keep a good relationship with acquaintances who at first out of love, later out of curiosity would buy your book. If your book has quality it will reach people’s bedside tables.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Gopa: Plenty of my poems are still unpublished and my book on characters of mythology found in contemporary times is half-finished and under process.
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Gopa: Publishing my first book which gave me popularity in the International Kolkata Book Fair 2020, made me a more mature and a serious writer. With love and positive reviews of my readers as a poet I think my responsibilities have increased and now critics have started taking me seriously.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Gopa: Why didn’t you think of writing a little bit more seriously from the beginningauthors? That’s the only question I would ask my younger writing self. I was very casual.
Ravi: What other Authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Gopa: My author's friends have been my constant inspiration. Friends like Ipsita Ganguli, who opened the door for me introducing me to the Kolkata literary circuit. Tanmoy Chakroborty who supported me constantly during the publication of my book from the beginning till the end, Lopa Banerjee, Saheli Mitra, Dr. Santosh Bakaya, Ampat Koshy, Sarnath Banerjee who all helped me to choose a better publication house, they all helped me to realize my dreams, to compile them and publish them.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Gopa: Absolutely I try to be original. I write my own thoughts, so naturally they are fresh but yes sometimes poets like Rabindranath Thakur, Mirza Ghalib, Gulzar, western poets have a strong influence in my poetic expressions. I find readers automatically connecting with my poems.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Gopa: Stop running after cheap publicity, if you have the quality in you keep writing with an open mind and try to reach out to your readers genuinely. They will love you lifelong. A positive pen is like a magic wand.
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Gopa: Top journals of today. Desh Patrika is internationally circulated then there is Sahitya Akademi’s bi-monthly journal, The Literary Herald and many more online journals
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our RaviReads Blog Readers?
Gopa: Well, my recent book is all about the different mythological characters that can be found within us during contemporary times. I am also planning to compile a book of poems written during COVID times.
Thanks to Gopa Bhattacharjee for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.