Criticspace: Dear Manjula, it’s an honour to have this discussion about poetry with you – a person of diverse personality as you write in Hindi as well in English. How do you see poetry? How do you see Hindi Kavita? Please share your views. 

Manjula Asthana: Hi! I’m elated that you are interested to know my point of view and thoughts regarding poetry and that’s how I am also getting a chance to express myself on “poetry”, or you may say “Kavita”. 
It’s nothing but difference in language. How and which language you express yourself is entirely your choice. Poetry is true expression of thoughts and perception, when a poet has any special feeling, does not look for the selection of language, he just expresses them in a language he is comfortable with. I prefer to use simple language, so that everyone can connect with and relate to the thought that I intend to convey. While writing in Hindi, I try to keep the language pristine, like I do when I write in English and Urdu. 

Criticspace: How you decided about the title of this book, “IZTIRAB”?

Manjula Asthana:“IZTIRAB” is a ghazal sangraha, a collection of ghazals, which are based on love, passion and a few other feelings too. IZTIRAB means restlessness. of the mind, soul and many other. So we picked this name for my book. 

Criticspace: “Abhishap Damini Ka” is your very first book. How did you get the inspiration to write this book? What did you write as the first poem for the book? Do you remember some lines?

Manjula Asthana: “Abhishap Damini Ka” is a novel (prose) whose inspiration came from the Nirbhaya Case and many other similar cases.I wanted to express the anger, repulsiveness, awareness and to make others cautious about the consequences. This novel was written in English by Debjani Mohanty. I wrote the Hindi version with the intention to reach more people and a larger reader base. The story starts with a horror scene, which has persisted during the whole story. 

Criticspace: You have been a working professional. How did you manage your creative writing parallel to the responsibilities of the work?

Manjula Asthana: I love writing and used to write from my childhood. Truly speaking, I was so engrossed in other responsibilities that I neglected in a way. As time passed, I could not hold my passion anymore and concentrated towards creativity. 

Criticspace: How do you feel today, being a poet? Is the world ready to know you, to read you, to interpret you? What are those things/ comments you get from your readers?

Manjula Asthana: Poetry is expression. I present my ideas my thoughts. Yes, many correlate themselves with them, enjoy and like, few may have different attitudes/reactions generally. People appreciate and for sure I feel contended about being a poet. 

Criticspace: How do you compare the writings in Hindi and writings in English? Which language you prefer and why?

Manjula Asthana: I enjoy writing in both the languages. I write with same ease in both the languages and the main thing is that I feel satisfied in whichever language I write. It’s the joy of creating and expressing that appeals to me more than language. 

Criticspace: Readers are mostly loving novels these days. How can we restore the poetry to its proper place once again? What do you think the poet-fraternity should do? Where do we lack?

Manjula Asthana: Poetry is equally common in youngsters even today. It’s an easy and quick medium to exchange ideas. Readers who love classics, go for Novels. Generally, anything close to the heart is immediately and easily accepted. However, one must write on relevant subjects. 

Criticspace: Do you have any books coming in the future? Please tell us something about your upcoming projects.

Manjula Asthana: I am working on two projects right now, which will be published shortly. Right now my novel is under publication, which deals with contemporary subjects. Many burning issues are not only highlighted, but also there are suggestions that I am sure will be very well received. 

Criticspace: Like many other poets, do you also feel that poetry matures with the development of time? Please describe your journey as a poet and eventually to a poet-laureate.

Manjula Asthana: You must have heard, “Practice makes a man perfect”. Yes of course with time the style and presentation evolves. I’ve become perfect in portraying finer feelings more accurately, and poetry is all about feelings and imaginations. 

Criticspace: Many poets will come across this interview, what is your message to the aspirant poets?

Manjula Asthana:I would just like to say always be truthful to your feelings and expression. Never try to imitate and be original. 

Thanks a lot for the answers, Manjula. It was a pleasure talking with you. Wish you great success and future! 

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