“Interview With a Working Class Poet” by Debarun Sarkar

The following are seven questions I had a chance to ask a working class poet over span of a week.

“There isn’t a lot by the way of poetry that has not been communicated about the notion of ‘place’. There are very distinct city poets, suburban poets, rural poets. Agha Shahid Ali’s work for example reeks of abandonment, melancholia and mourning, the diasporic blues, Hoshang Merchant’s work of indiscriminate travel and wisdom, Divesh Wadhawan’s Bombay of the western suburbs or Namdeo Dhasal’s Bombay. How do you think your notion of place, belonging works?”

“When the dust blows across the city, minutes or hours before the stormy rain strikes. That is where I belong. Among the dust and pollution, in hope of acidic rain bringing down the particles of the long industrial chimneys to dirty the ground level buildings painting them black and in the process cleaning the IT glass clad buildings.”

“In some of your work politics is privileged more than the poetic, the lyrical, the sublime. This turn towards bleak realism and also tract-like rants, how do you defend it as poetry?”

“Tomorrow go sit beside the mad man sleeping on the streets and drink with him for a while if he accepts the offer. Romanticize after that. Ask me this question then.”

“What if Ginsberg asked you that question?”

“When Ginsberg would have found God, only then he would have had the right to ask me that question. Otherwise his myths are as good as the mad man’s on the road.”


“You like quoting Nietzsche, that women can’t write poetry.”

“Yes. Because I am a woman.”

“Does the fact that you are a migrant help you associate with a certain subject position.”

“Yes, that of the dust and the wind. The cosmos. The working class. Your stupidity and naivety is unnerving.”

“Do you write from memory or immediately to draw an analogy with the painter.”

“I want to sleep.”

“You did not answer the question yesterday.”

“Let’s cook some meat today.”

“Have you been working on something new?”

“Yes. The medicines are working.”


Debarun Sarkar is currently based in Calcutta. Recent works have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Oddville Press, Cadaverine Magazine, Visitant, Aainanagar, Ink Sweat and Tears, among others. Find Sarkar on and @eiennotoso on twitter.



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