You are our very own WE Green Heart, and Diva of the World, who has won hearts and accolades and innumerable awards, from countries across the globe! What does this love and recognition mean to you, as a poet and creative person? Does it fuel your passion further?
Lily:. Let me begin by thanking you Women Empowered for the love you have showered on me by honouring me with these magnificent titles. They are truly close to my heart and I wear them with pride and elan.
A creative person’s sensitive heart brims and bubbles forth in grateful salutations to the supreme powers.
Love is that mystical force that can achieve the supposedly unattainable. I gasp in wonderment and awe at the dizzy heights that the affection of my readers has tossed me up to, like a pole vault jumper might do. The recognition of my humble ability to weave emotions, sentiments, thoughts and ideas has catapulted me from a tiny lady tapping away on her device in a small town in India to countries far and wide. Translations of my work have let me meet and connect worldwide writers. It has humbled me immensely and somehow ennobled me!
Yes, my passion is constantly stoked by this devoted love and these wondrous awards and honours. I strive to excel with a fervour that is softly nudging and prodding me.
Over the years, we have written magnificent poetry together at #CeWoPoWriMoWE, leading to feelings of joy and abundance. How would you describe the experience of writing in community – at #CeWoPoWriMoWE, The Significant League, and others?
Lily:. It’s like a gurgling brook, opening its bosom to welcome fresh streams of poetic abundance. A rhythmic group hug that gives warmth and provides sweet succour. Writing in community is like partaking ‘langar ‘in a holy community kitchen in a gurdwara. I have learned from this interactive exercise and felt like a student in front of the soul elevating poetry that I get to read. It makes me feel aware of the minuscule part of creation that I am. I’m blown away by the humungous talent of my fellow poets. On a personal note, let me share with you the fact that initially I used to resent writing on prompts suggested in groups. I thought that my poetry would be artificial and forced. How silly I was! Prompts tickle those corners that were hitherto hiding in dinghy corners of my being. I eagerly look forward to April poetry writing month each year
What are the highlights you cherish in your poetic journey so far?
Lily: I think I breathe because I write poetry. It has healed me in myriad, magical ways. The grief at losing my young son to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was shattering. Poetry became my panacea. It flowed with powerful currents, whirlpools and eddies that washed the grime of my helplessness. It soothed away my phobias and guilts, straightening my spine. The bestselling books that birthed from my creative womb are my life’s milestones. A Trellis of Ecstasy, found mention in the Journal of Commonwealth literature, London. The latest – Rippling Moonbeams has brought me joy. My other books are in different genres; The Gypsy Trail is a novel, Lilies of the Valley is a collection of essays and History on my Plate is about history and origin of food, yet poetry satiates my perennially famished soul.
I love lyrical music, nature rambles, wild reeds and grass, talking to mountains, romantic gentlemen, chortling babies. All these are fodder for my poetic mill!
Your favourite poets.
Lily: The Sikh Gurus and their Gurbani tops my list followed by Sufi saints like Bulle Shah, Farid, Shah Hussain. Urdu poets Ghalib, Mir, Daagh, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi.Punjabi poets Bhai Vir Singh, Shiv Batalvi, Amrita Pritam. Hindi poets Nirala, Mahadevi Verma. Keats, Shelley, Byron, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Maya Angelou, just to name a few!
What’s the most important way in which poetry has changed your world?
Lily:. It has enriched me beyond words. I get to read the poetry of poets across the globe. My own work has been translated into numerous languages. The most significant way in which poetry has changed my world is the realisation that life is not to be taken seriously. It’s a gift that needs to be lived each crystalline moment at a time. We can’t let it go waste in petty bickering. I have learnt to celebrate each breath I take. I am also indebted to poetry for never letting me be lonely. It walks with me through shade and light, under maples and banyans, through Himalayas and Rockies, past illness and health. In short it has triggered self-reflection. Jai Ho!
What does the Green Heart award signify to you?
Lily: The answer lies in the title dear Smeetha.
WE Diva Green Hearts Award 2022 Recipient – for lighting up our world with verse!
For Exemplary Poetry & Participation during #CeWoPoWriMoWE ’19 ’20, ’21 and WE Online Readings, Celebrations
How can I not be moved by the sheer love that this title exudes? It means the world to me to be able to light even a tiny, flickering, clay oil lamp-deeya in the shadowy “Katchaa” alcoves of someone’s being. I have relished reciting my multilingual poetry with much gusto during online readings. For me it’s like a friendly Mehfil of impassioned souls. Thank you for this place in your world dear Women Empowered Group. I take immense pride in being a Green Heart for nature is as holy for me as a church confessional.
As Guru Nanak said –
Pavan guru paanee pitaa
Maataa dharat mahat
Divas raat du-i daa-ee dayaa
Khaylai sakal jagat
Wind is the teacher, Water is the father,
and Earth is the great mother.
Day and night are the two kind nurturers,
and (the world) plays under them.
Which are your favourite awards and why?
Lily: If truth be told, each of the over 50 awards hold a special place in my heart regardless of who gave them. They make me bow down in humility and reverence.
I will always cherish my first international honour, Reuel International Award for Poetry 2016 as it says –
“For poetry that is prolific and never at a loss for words, depth and beauty.”
It gave me the runway to soar into the flaming horizons.
I also value Gujarat Sahitya Akademi honour two years in a row as it was a recognition by a government body. Frangh Bardhi award, Albania, for European exposure to my work. Global Poet Encomium of Peace and Universal Love for recognising my humble efforts at promoting peace through literature. I treasure “An Icon “award by Chandigarh administration as it’s from my own city. Sahitya Ratan Award by Asian Academy of Arts,7
Golden Eagle Award for Literary Excellence 2021 by Spanish Hispanic Union of World Writers, Silver Shield 2021 by UHE Woman of Heart Awards Love, Peace and Humanity 20-21.by United Kingdom, as it introduced me to myself. Best Author Award 2021 by Criticspace journal for History on my Plate. Being short listed for U K She inspires Awards was a global nod too. Rabindranath Tagore award for literature 2022, Elizabeth Barret Browning, Sarojini Naidu and Amrita Pritam awards, as they are in memory of poets I admire.
Your words of wisdom for poets starting out on their literary journeys…
Lily: Wisdom is such a relative term so I can only dare make a few suggestions from experience.
Write only about things that truly move you for the words will then ring true. A hollow verse never reaches hearts.
Suppress the urge to impress with verbosity and ostentatious sounding vocabulary. Instead create magic by meticulously weaving the warp and weft of your craft.
Never leave your roots. They will help your tree to flourish and branch out sturdily.
Thank you for this interview. I love you all.
Lily Swarn, our WE Diva of the World, is a multilingual poet, author, columnist, gold medalist, university colour holder, radio show host and Peace Ambassador, writing in different genres. A Trellis of Ecstasy, has received praise as a veritable delight by The Journal of Commonwealth literature in London. The Gypsy Trail, Lilies of the Valley, have been highly appreciated . History on My Plate got rave reviews. She has won over fifty international and national awards like Reuel International Prize for Poetry, Global Icon of Peace, Sahitya Rattan, Gujarat Sahitya Akademi Award, Master of Creative Impulse, Sarojini Naidu Award,Woman of Substance, Kairat Duissenov medal for poetic excellence, Order of Shakespeare Medal among others. Lily’s poetry has been translated into sixteen European and Asian languages and her Urdu ghazals have been set to music. She was recently declared finalist for Global Culture Champion Award by UK’s She Inspires Awards.