Writer, Poet, Columnist, Performer, Children’s writer, former Editor and also winner of The Hindu Prize 2015, this prolific Naga writer’s name is clearly marked in the International and National literary scene.
Spearheading the recently concluded book festival in Kohima, we discover that Easterine Kire is keen to put literature in the foreground. A much needed literary space for writers and book lovers in the State, the Bookworm fest is an initiative of Barkweaver and de Oriental Grand Hotel, Kohima. The designing done by de Oriental Grand and the concept came from Barkweaver.
The writer points out that that the objective of the Bookworm fest is to have a literary festival with poetry readings, storytelling sessions and different contests for children, but cautiously adding that ‘it is a first attempt so we will learn as we go about doing it’.
Perhaps then, the writer is the right person to ask on why there are barely any literary events happening in our State. “Let’s blame the government for not prioritising other cultural activities like literary events, shall we? Nah. Let’s blame ourselves for not ever being brave enough to make things happen. A start has been made at Hornbill festival, no matter how namesake it is, and it is up to us the reading public to make the rest happen, don’t you think?,” she responds.
However, on the current literary scene in the State, Easterine says she feels hopeful because youngsters are writing both in schools and colleges. She supports this with an experience, “I was in Tuensang visiting the town and college and students love reading out there. So we have both writers and readers. It is a very congenial atmosphere for literature to grow.”
Also, on the present generation of Naga poets and writers, she comments, “I think they are wonderful really. They come from a Nagacentric universe and that is what is wonderful about them, even though this should not restrict them from writing about city life as they experience it or any other area of life without feeling they have to inject something Naga into it.”
Ever wonder what inspires the creative soul of this prolific writer? She reveals, “God, Life, storytellers who give away snatches of stories, in that order. I was told by my older siblings that I was an avid reader as a child. “Always had your nose in a book,” says my cousin. I think an intense reader turns to writing naturally in some cases. Wrote my first poem at 16, it found encouragement and the rest followed.
Commenting on the ‘Naga theme and background’ of her stories, she says,” I am a Naga so it is natural for me to go back to my roots when writing something that is authentic and self-experienced. If I have a story inside me, I do nothing else but write for the next days or weeks and out it comes in book form.”
An acclaimed novelist and poet, Easterine feels that the two mediums happen naturally. She states, Prose writing as in novel writing can be poetic too, allowing one to write poetically in a more relaxed format. It’s not as though you sit down and say, “Now I’m going to write poetic prose or prosaic poetry,” you know. It just chooses to happen.
To aspiring writers, she offers this advice, “Be very very teachable, be humble, read a lot, stay positive. And for good writing, she suggests, “Give your writing to others for their feedback and editing as this is mostly helpful and many errors can be avoided by this activity.
If there is one thing to complain, Easterine feels that sometimes life or publishers throw you into the arms of the outside world, like the media and TV. She explains, “I find that very disconcerting. I enjoy meeting readers on a personal level, and really wish it were possible for writers to be allowed personal and private spaces. It’s sad that in today’s world everything is about marketing and we are treating people like commodities. But that is probably just me.”
Beyond book festivals and writing, what does she enjoy? “Time alone, or time in the outdoors is time very well spent, that is my life philosophy. What else? I enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes.”
Easterine Kire describe her life as a writer as ‘Both good and sometimes questioning and wondering if I should have instead been an electrician’. But most of the time, its good because I am following my heart and living my life doing what I love.
She is currently working on a non-fiction book on the Nagas and one fiction novella.