Creativity & Compassion: An Interview with Adwaita Das

Adwaita Das studied English Literature and Film Direction. She worked in advertising, news, stage and screen. Her trilingual play Chhayankaner Jonyo (Shadowplay) won the Shyamanand Jalan National Youth Theatre Award. National-international newspapers-magazines have published her non-fiction, fiction and poetry. 27 Stitches and Songs Of Sanity are her poem books (publisher: Writers Workshop India). Colours Of Shadow is her novella and short stories (publisher: LiFi Publications). They are available for order online in hardcover (verse) and paperback (prose). Her debut feature – Karon Kolkata Ebong Onyo Golpo (‘Cause Calcutta And Other Stories) – a Bengali anthology film – is ready for release. She is currently writing epic SFF in hope of world peace, and making affirmative art for mental health awareness.

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Audrey Bowers: What does the word brave mean to you?

Adwaita Das: Awareness is brave, self awareness in particular. Asking questions, looking inside, expressing with emotion and bringing change – these are all acts of courage. For progress, it is imperative that we enact change. Real change comes from the courage of self awareness. In transforming oneself, we can see the improvement reflected in the world. Even in the face of a fearful and vengeful past, knowing that all is one and exercising peace – that is true bravery.

AB: How can artists be brave in their work?

AD: Creativity in its very essence is brave. The first stroke made on a cave wall, which became the first alphabet, laid the foundation of progress, created mathematics and technology. It has always been up to the storytellers and artists to describe and show how fantastic the future can be. Engineers still refer to sci-fi author Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics in actual research and development of robots. The humans depend on the creatives to take them forward.

We have to give them a template for peace. We have to write more stories of equality and inclusivity. We can make kindness cool and nonviolence entertaining. Tropes exist to be reforged into relevant discourses. Language keeps transforming. Artists can shape and manifest a future for the present to believe in. A place of love joy and peace. A place of togetherness and ease.

It’s tough to avoid the pitfalls of the past. They loom in our faces, in popular cliches and generic trends – particularly, revenge and violence. But we the children of creativity have to establish new meaning. I love it when words are redefined. I love non-binary pronouns. It is a brave new world. We can let go of vengeance and choose to forgive. Instead of competition, we can inspire compassion. We can lead the way by example of our art and stories, as we always have. The world depends on it!

AB: Your art merges the written word with the visual. Can you explain your process of creating?

AD: Drawing and writing are two such close facets of creation. I can barely keep myself from merging them. As I scribble an alphabet, it looks like a figure or a landscape. The written word is a painting as well. I have always felt stories or poems are more successful in expressing themselves when provided with a bit of illustration. Perhaps my inner child does not wish to let go of picture books because they were the most captivating. In conclusion, I am not sure what it is, except a primal urge that drives me to weave the work of pen and brush as one. On several occasions I am ‘drawn’ to add text to a design or vice versa, pun intended; sometimes they come together in my mind, like a balancing equation or mechanical parts fitting together with code.

AB: How do you make your writing so succinct? How do you manage to say so much in such a small amount of words?

AD: I have always loved reading. I would feel furious when a person made flippant remarks about literature being too dense to even try perusing. Most of all, I disliked excuses about poems being too long and complicated to be enjoyed for real. I wanted everyone to read. I wanted each person to experience the joy I did from words put together in narrative sequence, poetic or prosaic. My literary fiction has lyrical sentences musing on for ages. I have dreamed of penning novels in iambic pentameter or alexandrine hexameter.

With time, I came to accept the need for shorter pieces. It happened in an organic manner. My poems began to shorten as I searched for the most precise and concise set of phrases to express the exact sentiment. Part of my quest was also for engagement. Pictures draw attention. It is the foundation of the advertising industry. Instead of selling people products, using the same concept, I started sharing ideas and emotions. Not just for others, or because human attention span runs low, but for myself. It was an inner need to understand what I am thinking, feeling and processing.

Writing has been my best friend, teacher, peer and therapist. It opens up dimensions inside and outside of me. I have always had absolute faith in the power of the written word and all other arts. When the precision of my own work helps me comprehend an emotion or an experience, there is a resonance that reaches out with genuine compassion. It is hope that someone will feel understood. Someone will know they are not alone. We are all connected. We are one.

AB: What can readers look forward to from you in the future?

AD: My book of seven sci-fi fantasy short stories, titled Quantum Tango, is coming soon from RhetAskew Publishing! Plus, you can check out weekly artwork and poetry at my online profiles.



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