AND ILLUSION: POETS AS CHASERS OF DREAMS
Title of Book: 21ST CENTURY CRITICAL THOUGHT - A DIALOGUE WITH POST-MODERN VOICES, VOL 2
Genre: CREATIVE LITERATURE/INTERVIEWS
Interviews by: Dr. JERNAIL SINGH ANAND
Publisher: EARTH VISION PUBLICATIONS, HARYANA
ILLUSION: POETS AS CHASERS OF DREAMS
Dr. Jernail Singh Anand: Welcome to World
Literature India. My first question to you is what is the connection between
poetry and dreams?
Sujatha Warrier: Thank
you Jernail Singh Ji for this recognition. It is indeed an honour for me. As an
ordinary person who always dreams and sometimes writes poetry, I feel both dream
and poetry are manifestations of the inner self of the dreamer or the poet.
Both have elements of imagination. Both use imageries. Both are inspired and
driven by passion. Both occur as a poet’s or a dreamer’s response to their own thoughts,
experiences and the world around them. However, poetry communicates with people,
and every reader engages with what they read in their own way based on their
thoughts and experiences. The same poetry creates different images in different
JSA: Can you draw a
line between a dream and a delusion?
SW: I would
differentiate them based on the presence or absence of realism. Delusion is being
out of touch with reality. The person under delusion believes in the delusion
in spite of marked evidence to the contrary. Dreams are normally defined as
images and experiences that pass through one’s mind while in a sleeping state. Whether
the dreamer believes in the dream or not is irrelevant, as he cannot be concerned
about reality in that state. Having said that, a dream also means a strong
aspiration to achieve something. Such a person who chases that kind of a dream believes
in it and has it in him to turn his dream into reality.
JSA: Can we call them
normal human beings who are chasing dreams? I mean are poets normal human
course they are normal human beings. Those who chase dreams have realised that
they have it in them to make their dreams real. Poets are sensitive human
beings who see things in a different way from others. This is just an inherent thing
– like the ability to sing, dance, or paint. And then there are thinkers, scientists,
philosophers, etc. The world needs them all. That makes the world normal. I
would say human beings who lack sensitivity or who have lost the ability to
dream are not normal. When the world has more of such people, then we should be
concerned that the world is not normal.
JSA: Dreams and
delusions make people live. What is a pipedream? And what happens when The
pipedream is more like a fantasy. Hope helps people live. And that’s what
dreams, delusions and pipedreams offer – hope. The person who deludes himself into
believing something doesn’t realise his belief is irrational. One who has a
pipedream doesn’t believe that it is just a fantasy and impossible to
materialize. So what they all offer is hope and the reason to live. As in
Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh – where the iceman is the symbol of death –
when the iceman or death comes, one finally faces reality. Poetry, however,
with all its imagery, is also a communication of reality – at its different
levels, with its different perceptions, in its various layers. With all its
elements of imagination, it is still a reality check.
JSA: What is the
connection between dreaming and depression? Society is filled with a widespread
sense of loss. Don’t you think dreams and wishes are the preserve of deprived
are associated with real life experiences and situations. Experts say that in people
who have mental disorders, the content of their dream is related to the mood
they are in at the time of dreaming. They say depressed people dream more because
their ruminations make them emotionally aroused. So understanding their dreams
should help in controlling their state of depression. Coming to the last part
of your question, ‘wishing’ is like feeling hopeful, and hence is closer to
what one aspires for in life. So wishing and dreaming can complement each other
and help one get through life.
JSA: Does poetry help
a dreaming world by helping it with a catharsis?
is a form of writing that is charged with emotion. Any emotion – whether it be
love, sorrow, rage, or any other – is expressed more effectively through the
poetry form. The emotion in the poetry easily and quickly connects with the
emotion in the reader or the listener. One can see proof of this in how the
world responds to patriotic poetry, revolutionary poetry, romantic poetry, etc.
So poetry does help the world with catharsis. Most recently, we have seen poets
across the world coming together with their poetry themed on the much dreaded
COVID and Black Lives Matter, and also poetry inspired by social empowerment, and
gender, child and human rights issues.
JSA: Dreams are a
great property of mankind. If we stop chasing them, will there be still any
poetry left behind?
ability to dream is an attribute unique to the humankind. If it had not been
for the dreams, human beings wouldn’t have come this long way making
discoveries, acquiring knowledge, bettering their lot, traversing the space,
reaching the moon and other planets, and connecting the world virtually. Of
course some dreams may have gone wrong, but we have it in us to tip back the
balance and find new normals. All this is possible because human beings can
dream. This is one of the features amongst a horde of others that makes them
human. Human beings have never and will never stop chasing dreams. Poetry will
always be there, perhaps taking different forms, as it already is.
JSA: Airy nothings are
the stuff of dreams. A poet may, but can an ordinary person live on such
fragile invisible stuff?
SW: As I
mentioned earlier, poetry is one talent among myriads that human beings
possess. It’s not necessary that everyone should dance, sing or paint. It’s not
necessary that everyone should be a scientist or a doctor. And it’s not
necessary that everyone should understand and relate to poetry. Besides, poetry
is not just some words in a specific format. There’s poetry in nature, there’s
poetry in the crafts, in design and in all other works of creation and, let me
add, compassion. So human beings will connect with poetry in some way or the
other. I believe a poet is as ordinary or as special as any other human being.
JSA: How does poetry
make life more liveable?
connects with your heart and soul. It has in it the beauty of all the arts. It
flows like a song, paints pictures, creates moving images in your mind, narrates
stories, and is intense with emotions. Poetry is a language in itself which
connects people around the world. It holds a mirror to the world and life, and reflects
not what’s superficial but what’s below the layers. It throws light on
different aspects of things so you can perceive them from different angles. It
provides a voice to call out to the world, to respond and react, to rouse
people and inspire them, and to make them positively respond. It soothes.
JSA: Poetry gives the patient a strong dose of dreams, puts him through
some impossible estates, and restores his balance. I think this is the
therapeutic function of poetry. Can anything else in the world bring balance
back to man’s mind? Are dreams steroids which cure bruised souls faster?
SW: All creative arts help in bringing balance back to man’s
mind. It’s known that music, dance, art, storytelling, drama, etc. have great
therapeutic effect and help in restoring balance. So also do recreational
activities, sports and prayer. Being in a serene environment may have the same
effect. Anything that can touch the mind, release its stresses and leave a
positive impact can bring balance back to man’s mind. Poetry does all this.
It’s not just a strong dose of dreams, it’s a salve that heals and protects the
mind, dealing with its pain and fears, and its conflicts and chaos. I would go
as far as to say poetry creates a peaceful space in our minds.