Maitreyee B Choudhary, a Bangalore based poet and author grew up in the small oil town of Digboi in Assam. “I was surrounded by greenery and wildlife which had a lasting impact on me.” By the time she was in school, she was writing small pieces of poetry, a passion that grew as she entered college. Now, she has a collection of poetry under her belt : Benaras: Where even the Present is Ancient, a non-fiction work titled Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Se: Bengali Cinema’s First Couple and is the poetry and fiction editor of The Bangalore Review, a literary journal. “I do think I am a poet before anything else. Over the years, though, I found myself drawn more to non-fiction and now, it makes up a large part of my reading and writing. I’m drawn to the honesty of the genre, the telling of things as they are, I suppose. I would like to try my hand at fiction soon, though.”
Maitreyee is all set to launch her third book, The Hungryalists, which is narrative non-fiction, a genre that affords her some creative license. The book tells the story of a group of young poets who rebelled against the establishment to fight caste, class and elitism. Set in 1960s Bengal, it has the 1962 war as the backdrop and describes the socio-economic situation of the time, along with the many experiments that took place then. “The story is a combination of rebellion, sex, drugs, poetry and war,” she says. Research was an intensive process but a role she enjoys. “I talked to a wide spectrum of people – university professors, poets, writers, journalists and readers. Some of the Hungryalists are alive and some died during the course of this book being written but I did manage to record their stories. The book is the product of over three years of research.” The Hungryalists began with her reading about the Beat generation and their journey to India. “The Beat generation epitomizes all that is experimental, new and avant-garde. Their attitude of inclusiveness, tolerance and inherent curiosity inspired me a great deal.”
It’s a golden age for writing in English in India and Maitreyee feels there is much to look forward to. “Writers are experimenting and writing about subjects that haven’t been explored before. There is a wide choice for all sorts of readers. Indian English poetry is doing especially well with the advent of small presses that are willing to take risks with poets. Personally, I am cheering for more and more translation work from vernacular languages.” A sucker for well researched original stories, written with an eye for detail and creativity she says that the ability to present the local in an international flavour is her inspiration. Looking ahead she is gearing up to do the script writing for a film based on the life of Jibananada Das with international film maker Hiroshi Sunari.
What: Launch of The Hungryalists By Maitreyee B Chowdhury
When: Saturday, 6th April 2019, 6:00 PM
Where: Atta Galatta, #134, KHB Colony, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560095. Phone: (080) 4160 0677 / 96325 10126