For many years the light Sengupta was himself most familiar with was the one he shone into his patients’ mouths
To respond to the pandemic with poetry — the idea came to Kolkata poet Kiriti Sengupta in April 2020 when, during the COVID-19-forced nationwide lockdown, he chanced upon a piece in the Irish Times. Chris Fitzpatrick, the author of the article, had said: “In time, we will need poets and writers of the imagination to look through the looking glass — and tell us the stories of this strange, upside-down world. We will need more than a vaccine and a rebooted economy to heal us.”
In a matter of just one month, Hibiscus was ready, brought out by Hawakal Publishers, the publishing house Mr. Sengupta is associated with. As many as 104 poets across the world — including some of India’s biggest names such as Keki N. Daruwalla, Sudeep Sen, Mamang Dai, Sanjeev Sethi — contributed to the collection, which rolled off the press in the midst of the lockdown.
“Our contributors couldn’t believe we got the book out so quickly. The Okhla unit of Thomson Press [in Delhi] was operational, and I remember Bitan [Chakraborty, owner of Hawakal] and I going to the DTDC office [in Kolkata] one afternoon to collect the books,” said Mr. Sengupta, a dentist-turned-poet who has edited seven anthologies by now apart from publishing 11 books of his own poetry and prose.
“I, along with my co-editors [Anu Majumdar and Dustin Pickering], chose a therapeutic way to…