An exclusive interview by Ayangti Longkumer for The Morung Express
Born in the beautiful valley of Imphal, Bondina Elangbam has inherited both the Meitei and Mao-Naga cultures of her parents and this cross-cultural bonding and conflicts at times is also reflected in her poems. Between the Poet and Her Pencil is her first collection of poems, the foreword of which has been written by Kangana Ranaut, the award winning Bollywood actress and will be launching it this year end. Painting is her passion, she loves writing short stories and poems too. Her poem, My Fear has also won the Winner’s title in the Varsity Week of NEHU, Shillong in the year 2010. She received her Doctorate degree in English literature from North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong.
What is the central theme of your book and how long did it take for you to complete it?
It’s about life as a whole and the elements involved in it. It took few years for me to compile this poetry collection.
When it comes to writing poetry, do you feel there were add advantages of being an English literature student?
It has helped me in certain ways but it isn’t an advantage because poetry is about one’s creativity and anyone can be a poet without having to go through certain studies.
Quite recently in one of the interviews, you stated that you are not a feminist, which made an uproar among the readers. Were your words misinterpreted or there is a reason behind your choice of not being a feminist?
I would say, the term feminist has been put out of context so many times and that’s the reason why I wanted to stay away from the tag since I am a female writer. But I strongly believe in equality of women in all sectors, I am definitely a feminist in its essence but I believe more in equality without having to be tagged by a “term”.
Which identity of yours has defined you the most as a poet and to your poetry?
An unconventional woman inclined towards the artistic facets of life defines me as a poet and my poetry.
Apart from being a poet, you are an excellent painter, how do you connect these two fields?
Thank you for the compliment. See, my poems are about life and the various occurrence one experiences in life. My painting again is about the varied elements in life, the different emotions and various other aspects of life. Life in its essence connects the two and in one or the other way it is intertwined.
What are the future projects you are considering to engage on?
I’m currently working on a collection of short stories, hopefully with collaboration. In this book, I would like my readers to get a glimpse of the rich culture and the love and friendship that exists between the diverse communities of the region that I belong to.