Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indo-American poet, writer, filmmaker and actor based in the United States. Author of the recent “Bare Soul” (in English) and three collections of poems in Hindi; before she was 21 she won the prestigious Bihar Rajbhasha Award (1986-87) given by the government of Bihar, India, for her first poetry collection, “Chand Ka Paivand” (“Patch of Moon”) and was given the title of “Bihar Shri” (“Jewel of Bihar”—like “poet laureate”) in 1988. She also received the Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award in 2014 for her contributions to literature and cinema and was nominated for “Honor of Yeast Litteraire” by French magazine, “Levure Litterarie.” Kalpna is also president and founder of the Silent River Film Festival and Editor in Chief of the literary magazine, “Life and Legends. Her short film, “Girl with an Accent,” has been screened at many film festivals and won the Silver Ten Award at the SMTV Mumbai film festival in 2006. Her feature-length film, “Goodbye, My Friend” has been seen on television.
She comments, “When I write, I pretend to be in India. As a writer, although I’m prepared to write anywhere, I prefer to write in a quiet corner of my home, away from all distractions. And when I return home to write, I often like to unite myself with the memories of India to condition my mind; India, where my poet was born, and I wrote my very first poem in Hindi at the age of fourteen. It doesn’t have to be like a ritual for writing. But weather like India’s, the smell of Jasmine while I am driving in a neighborhood, dark clouds rolling in the skies, like monsoons, winds howling in the streets, Darjeeling tea in the afternoons, or just some Indian music is enough for my poet to feel inspired and to bring me into a Zen mode, where I become one with the beauty and chaos of life that nourish my writings.”
This is the opening poem of “Bare Soul”:
The jungle greets century a new year,
centuries greet millenniums;
millenniums greet eternity,
and eternity greets the sacredness in us.
Let’s rise in gratitude,
and blossom like wild flowers;
open to the core,
and perfume the jungle!
And these are the concluding sections of “River of Songs”:
Who claims to know
what the river is all about?
Those who came in their boats of pride,
could barely make it to the shore.
Those who came without any prejudice,
could never surface to tell its depth.
Who claims to know the river?
Not the river itself…
Truth is not always what is said;
truth is not always what is heard;
sometimes, the truth exists somewhere in the middle,
and flows with the course of life like a Silent River;
committed to the world on both its sides,
searching for its way to the ocean.
Part One of Two.