Inquiring Minds and Other Clichés — Ayesha Chatterjee

— a poetry interview series by Christine Klocek-Lim

Ayesha Chatterjee

1. What is your favorite poem that you’ve written? Read?

One of my all-time favourite poems is Tennyson’s Ulysses. It was an anthem for me when I was growing up. At the moment, of my own poems, the one that seems least flawed to me is The Last Generation from The Clarity of Distance.

2. Do you write for yourself or for an audience/reader?

I write for myself as an audience, as though I were reading someone else’s work.

3. How much of what you write is inspiration vs. perspiration?

It’s very hard to say. Possibly equal amounts. And sometimes it’s the inspiration that comes first, sometimes it’s a lot of perspiration.

4. If you were a Celtic bard, carrying poems from place to place as if they were the last flame, which ones would you sing?

Emily Dickinson’s I taste a liquor never brewed

Ranjit Hoskote’s The surveyor’s complaint

Thomas Hardy’s The Voice

Jo Shapcott’s Thetis

Kamala Das’ The Dance of the Eunuchs

5. Why do you read or write poetry?

It’s how I make sense of the world. It’s like art and music and philosophy all rolled into one. I read it for the sounds and images and because it surprises me. Because I can and do memorize it and then I carry it around like photographs.

6. How has the way you write changed (or not changed) over time?

I’ve learned to trust myself more as I’ve developed my own voice.  It’s like swimming, you let go of the floats as you gain confidence.


Born and raised in Kolkata, India, Ayesha Chatterjee has lived in England, the USA, Germany, and currently resides in Toronto. Her work gained notice when one of her poems was shortlisted in the Guardian Unlimited Poetry Workshop in October 2004.

Her poetry has appeared in nthpositionAutumn Sky Poetry, and BluSlate. In 2010, she read at the Poetry with Prakriti Festival in Chennai, India. This October, she will be reading at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.

Her first poetry collection, The Clarity of Distance, is a meditation on the complexity of existence and the search for moments of truth within it.

Book Details:

The Clarity of Distance at Bayeux Arts
The Clarity of Distance at Barnes & Noble


Couplets: a multi-author poetry blog tour – click for a list of participating blogs and daily entries
Upper Rubber Boot Books is coordinating a book blog tour for April, to help promote poetry and poets for National Poetry Month. Check back here for updates throughout the month of April (we’ll also post updates to our blog, and so will many of the participating poets).
Follow this event on Facebook or Goodreads.


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