Interview with Sonnet Mondal, Author of 'An Afternoon in My Mind’
on Apr 11, 2022
Sonnet Mondal is an Indian poet, editor, and author of An Afternoon in my Mind (Copper Coin, 2022), Karmic Chanting (Copper Coin, 2018), and Ink & Line (Dhauli Books, 2018). Founder director of Chair Poetry Evenings - Kolkata's International Poetry Festival, Mondal serves as the managing editor of Verseville. His recent works have appeared in the Harper’s Bazaar, Virginia Quarterly Review, Words Without Borders, Singing in the Dark (Penguin Random House), Luvina magazine (University of Guadalajara, Mexico), La Otra (University of Mexico), Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Short Edition-Michigan State University Libraries, Kyoto Journal, Potomac Review, Poetry Salzburg Review (University of Salzburg), Mascara Literary Review, and Honest Ulsterman among others. Editor of the Indian section of Lyrikline, Haus Fur Poesie, Berlin, he has been a guest editor of Words Without Borders, Poetry at Sangam and Radar Magazine. His works have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Italian, Chinese, Turkish, Slovak, Macedonian, French, Russian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Arabic.
1) 'An Afternoon in My Mind’ has several poems. Which poem has touched you more, and how’s that poem very important to you?
The poems in this book are all about different stages of my life. I believe that I am made up of memories and remnants from my past. Every episodeand every moment has enriched my experience, and I have tried to capture some of these remarkable moments in this book. As a result, I hold all of the poems in this collection in high regard. Even still, if I had to pick one, it would be the title poem from the book 'An Afternoon In My Mind.' On a hot summer afternoon, I along with my cousin-brother and maternal uncle, went to watch Grandpa catch fish in the local village pond known as "Jaruli." It has been roughly 30 years. My grandfather and uncle are no longer with us, but that particular day came to mind while looking at an old photo album in which my father most likely captured four of us in a frame by the pond on that particular day. That night, I couldn't sleep because of the photo. I yearned to return to those days and meet individuals who were no longer with me. I wrote the poem while looking at the photo, and now that it's in my book, I am at peace with my nostalgia.
2) What kind of poems have you written in this book?
Mostly emotive. However, as I previously indicated, the poems are a mirror of my life thus far, and as such, many of them address a variety of social issues and thoughts that we frequently tuck away in random pages of our life's book, which sometimes get misplaced.
3) When did you discover that you can be a poet?
I don't recollect a certain time when I was able to assert myself as a poet. Every day, I continue to discover something new, and so with each passing poem that I read or write, I discover a new poet within.
4) What is the meaning behind the title, ‘An Afternoon in My Mind’?
The title relates to one of the poems in the book, as I mentioned in the first question of the interview. I chose this title to complement the gone time that I have sought to maintain via poetry, because this collection contains poems that journey to my past. The title has a more personal edge to it. During my summer vacations, I used to go to my mother's house and stand by the house's boundary gate to watch the cows return home from the fields. It was one of my favourite times of the day to witness villagers coming back from work and animals returning from their pastures. This title, I believe, subtly reawakens those feelings.
5) What kind of target audience was in your mind while writing these intense poems?
Not any in particular, but those for whom memories are as valuable as life itself. After all, what is life without our past!
6) What do you want your readers to get out of your poems?
Thoughts, delicate incidents such as meeting unique people on a bus, train, or aircraft, a few chats that resurface like echoes, and a few experiences that cling to us like shadows get suppressed and images overlap in today’s fast-paced environment. People often tend to lose sight of places and people they love once they go out of sight. I believe the poems in this book can give them space, or at least a reason to revisit those places and people. Nothing is ever lost in the world. They've been saved in some form or another. However, we frequently overlook the path that leads to them. I'm hoping that this book can assist readers in locating that path.