About Harmanjeet Singh Punia:
Harmanjeet Singh is an author and a Poet whose recent work ‘Khudgarziyaan’ – a collection of Poetry, just got released. He has previously penned down a collection of nine heartbreaking stories in his book ‘Pashmina’ which received widespread love for its intensity and freshness. He lives with his parents in the countryside of district Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab and is an M.Sc (Physics). He teaches Physics as well as English and is an avid reader of literature.
LiFT: Tell us about your book, the journey of writing it and its content.
Harman: ‘Khudgarziyaan’ is a very special book for me, as it’s a collection of my innermost personal thoughts and emotions in the form of Poetry. This book wasn’t an intentional one as I’d never thought of Publishing my ‘Shayari’ until now. All the couplets and the poems written in this book are reflection of the different phases of my life. It’s a very personal and intimate collection.
LiFT: Why you chose this title?
Harman: The title ‘Khudgarziyaan’ was chosen after due consideration. I had initially titled it to be something else, but ‘Khudgarziyaan’ suited the book more. It encompasses everything that the book contains. Moreover the poem ‘Khudgarziyaan’ is a very special one for me as it’s a letter by me to myself. I’ve experienced lots of ‘Khudgarziyaan’ of the people that I have encountered in my life. And that title justifies the existence of this book.
LiFT: When did you realize that you want to be a writer/poet and what’s your inspiration behind it?
Harman: I always have been an avid reader of classic literature and I always, after reading such classic work, have been fascinated by the world they managed to create. And I just used to hope for to give shape to my own world. And then after years of wait and hardwork ‘Pashmina’ was published. And it changed everything. It gave me the push to explore my career as an author and I started to work on my next work. But along with that I have always admired ‘Shayari’ and have been inspired by number of famous poets of our times and the ones gone long before our time. Sufi Poetry is my first love when it comes to Poetry and having been ardent lover of Bulle Shah, Ghalib, Khusro, Rumi and Mohammad Baksh I read their work extensively, and it helped me to grow. And then there were Shiv Kumar, Gulzar, Surjit Paatar and Veer Singh. I can’t emphasis enough the influence that they have had on my work. It’s just pure love.
LiFT: How different penning down a poem is as compared to a story ? And which one was more difficult for you?
Harman: They both are different forms of art. A story is a narrative that, once you have an idea in your mind, you can start to build around that idea and it could be written over a varied period. I mean you can edit it and rewrite it as per the storyline’s demand. But poetry, on the other hand, is an emotion that you express in your words. And an emotion is momentarily. Sometimes it lasts only for seconds and you don’t experience the same emotion or phase afterwards. So whenever I feel like there’s something I can’t express by saying, I have to write it down at that very moment. So whatever it is that I have access to at that moment, pen-paper or my phone, I just write it down on that. Because once the moment has passed, that emotion doesn’t last very long. And I never write poetry just for the sake of it. As I said earlier it wasn’t in my plan to publish poetry because I always focused on the prose. But Poetry is something that’s way more personal than stories and for me, to have those emotions bound and compiled meant a lot. So I decided to go ahead with ‘Khudgarziyaan’.
LiFT: What does Poetry mean to you?
Harman: Poetry, to me, is rhythm of life. Sometimes it rhymes sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s always there. It’s a way of connecting two souls in a way no other art-form can do. And it’ll work only if two hearts beat on the same rhythm. So to understand, sorry to feel, the poetry you need to have experienced that emotion which that particular poem is about or which it reflects. Otherwise you won’t connect to it. And if you don’t connect to it, you won’t feel it. And the purpose is lost. But there will always be someone who would feel the pain, the love, the agony, the hope which thrives in those poems. And then I believe the purpose gets served. You can’t force it on anybody. Not at all.
LiFT: What does this book mean to you?
Harman: It means a lot. As I said earlier, ‘Khudgarziyaan’ is not just a book for me, it’s an emotion, a part of me, a part of my soul that I penned down. I never though of myself as a ‘shayar’ earlier because I never did shayari on purpose. I wrote shayari for myself. My innermost thoughts are what ‘Khudgarziyaan’ actually is. It’s the love, the pain, the hope, the loss and the passion that I’ve experienced in my life till date. So it means a lot to me..
LiFT: Where do you see yourself ten years down the line in the world of literature?
Harman: To be honest, I can’t say anything for sure because of the changing dynamics of the world and this industry. Publishing and Literature both have gone through radical change in the past few years, for both good and bad. But the honesty of my work and its originality gives me the confidence that I need to reach the destination that I’ve always wanted to reach. The love that I’ve received for Pashmina means a lot. And I just hope that it’ll swell further with every book of mine that gets released. But I know that someday, I’ll be there and my work will be recognized.
LiFT: How much do you think marketing or quality of a book is necessary to promote a particular book and increase its readers?
Harman: Both are significant. Marketing helps you to reach out genuinely interested readers in this horde of so called readers and reviewers. Proper marketing is what gives the book some extra push to travel that extra mile. But it’s the quality which sustains the position and reputation of the book. Good quality, of content and of its form is must nowadays in order to catch the eye of the reader. And Once the book catches the eye it’s content that holds his interest.
LiFT: What is the message you want to spread among folks with your writings?
Harman: That they should make the most of Life. It’s short, beautiful, haunting and tragic at the same time. But before it’s over it tells us numerous stories. Stories that need to be told. And I’m just doing my part. My writing has always been inspired by the dream called life itself and the reality that comes after it. And in the midst of it is Hope, love and happiness. I just want to spread that with my work.
LiFT: What do you do apart from writing?
Harman: I teach Physics and English language to the students basically. Physics will always be my first love and I can never sideline that. And the love for English language comes from my love for literature. Along with teaching I also look after my Agricultural work. We are a family of farmers and it’s our primary occupation.
LiFT: What are the activities you resort to when you face a writer’s block?
Harman: Actually, I haven’t experienced writer’s block till date because I never force myself on my writing. I just let it be. I only write what I feel. Whether it’s an emotion, a story or a couplet. I can’t just write for the sake of it. If I don’t have anything to say then I don’t write.
LiFT: Are you working on your next book? If yes, please tell us something about it.
Harman: Yes, I’m working on three books to be honest. Two of those are Short story collection- one in Punjabi and one in English. And the third one is Novel – a romantic drama, in Punjabi, which has been in the process for a long time. It’s a very beautiful experience to write and create a world out of your imagination. I love that. So I just hope I’ll keep writing.
LiFT: What are your suggestions to the budding writers/poets so that they could improve their writing skills?
Harman: To be honest, there are several actually. First of all they need to have a genuine idea about the book and then they should rely on their expertise to tell the story. If they lack that skill then then should learn writing skills first. And then comes the editing part. A lot of writers write books full of mistakes. It’s really embarrassing and awkward for the reader as well. So they need to get a good command over the language first in which they are writing.