My memory of Sharada as a colleague from our early days at the Times of India in Mumbai, working on first The Independent, then the Independent on Saturday and thereafter Metropolis on Saturday, is that of a smiling, business- and numbers-driven, no-nonsense professional. Hard-nosed but also smiling, and always a persuasive and effective professional. Poetry? One wouldn’t have expected it.
Then one received a little Whatsapp invitation – to the launch of Sharada’s book. Of poems! And wait… what? Her second book of poems? The first, one learnt, had been published 8 years earlier.
So obviously, one had a lot of catching up to do. I missed the launch, but I did manage to connect with Sharada with some questions about a numbers-crunching strategy machine pole-vaulting across to the other side of the brain to dress thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions with expression, and that too in blank verse. The result of which is her second book of poetry, The Silver Sparrow And Other Poems, published by Himalaya Publishing House, which had brought out her first book too.
So here’s Sharada Sunder, speaking of her book of poetry. And of her love of writing, which is for better and for verse.
Obviously, you like to write poetry, and in a methodical, organized kind of way. This is your second book of poetry. Tell us about it.
Yes I do like to pen poems. This book, silver sparrow, is a collection of 68 poems. I would say I do not plan a method. It is rather a spontaneous flow of expressions. This book has poems straddling romance, pain, nature, self, death, divinity, life, truth.
How much time did it take you to write these poems?
Most of these poems have been written in the last few months.
So there was a method and timetable to the writing and the decision to publish. Start writing a few months before you plan to publish your book. What is your process for writing a poem? When do the thoughts, or poems… well, come to you?
I think these wonderful thoughts are always there waiting for me to see them , hear them and write them out. So its only a few of these eternal thought that make it to a book because the others are waiting to be seen or sometimes, a poem in my head gets lost if not captured in ink immediately. That’s how some of them are lost forever.
Whom do you speak with, when you write? Whom are you addressing? Just yourself, or are you conscious of an audience ‘listenting’ to you?
Everything and everyone around inspire me. My poems are about what connects to my heart. So it is sometimes inside out, and sometimes, outside in.
How do you go about writing your poems? You didn’t write in metre but blank verse…
While I don’t chase a structure, it invariably comes together in a manner that defines my style. The verse, rhymes, literary ambit are there just to serve the core thought that needs to be conveyed. Not the other way around.
You told me earlier you aren’t conscious about meter, you just like your thoughts to flow in ‘a poetic manner’. What is ‘a poetic manner’ to you?
I am most comfortable capturing the original play of thoughts ‘as is’. And it is like a gentle stream, flowing from a place unknown to me and to a place unknown to me, just the fact that it is here and deep in my experience is what matters. That comes out in a poetic form, gentle, graceful, reflective, sensitive.
Share a poem from this book that you’re particularly fond of..
Difficult to answer this. But if I have to choose one based on what I would like to have maximum impact on people around the world, that would be the poem “Pause”.
How are you distributing this book?
it is intended to be an online distribution. However given that some people prefer poetry to be read from a book, there are copies in select book stores like Title Waves, Bandra west, Mumbai, Kitabh Khana ,fort, Mumbai . the books can be ordered from Amazon and himpub sites as well.
Tell us about your first book of poems, The Illegitimate Tree and Other Poems. What was it about, when did you publish it, and how it did…
That was eight years ago. I think each book is a journey in itself and captures the nuances of the author’s life too at a particular point in time.
How has the way you write poetry evolved from your first book to this, your second?
I have not tried to make a comparison of sorts. But what I can say is that as my life evolves , so do my writings. My view would be that this book silver sparrow has an ability to connect with larger audiences across age groups and geographies.
Poetry has a more defined, niche space of its own. The first book was a satisfying one and I am confident that this book will touch more hearts. I have had a publisher for both my books and it has been a wonderful experience with Himalaya Publishing House.
What learnings from your first book did you use in the publication and launch of your second? And how do you look to monetize this second book better?
The era eight years ago was almost non-digital in India. Now everything is digital and global. So times are very different. The online sales will be a good way to reach more people.
Anything else you want to share.
Yes. Releasing a book of poems is like giving out a part of one’s life. It is humbling and fulfilling. I would urge people to start or continue writing. Write your heart out.
About Sharada Sunder:
Until recently Sharada was Executive Vice President leading the regional business at ZEE Entertainment where, over the last eight years, she led the Regional Entertainment television Business to a strong success story in terms of viewership, brand values, revenues and profits across markets of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Odisha. She also launched six additional brands successfully in this tenure. She led the unprecedented growth in key brands to leadership positions with a combination of business strategies and creativity.
Prior to Zee, Sharada was at TIMES GROUP as General Manager and a member of the senior team driving Business & Sales strategies for growth.
Over the last 27 years Sharada has grown and enriched herself with the dynamic and extensive experiences that she has had in Brand launches, brand building, Business strategy, financial management across Print business, Entertainment Content and Television broadcast.
A Chartered Accountant, Sharada started her career in A F Ferguson & Co where she led audits and process controls for clients. She then moved to the Times Group where she played a key role as CFO for the group company that published a daily- “The Independent”; launched new brands Metropolis on Saturday- a weekly newspaper; E -Times- an entertainment guide and the popular supplement- Bombay Times. She subsequently moved to a business role and led the brand performance management, sales force performance management, sales information strategy for market share gains and was also a key member of the senior team designing the sales & pricing strategies for all the print publications of the group.
Sharada made the shift to television by leading the commercial and special projects function at ZEE where she set up Best Practices for content procurement & creation, IPR management and also worked on new channels proposition.
After leaving ZEE, today, Sharada is a mentor at the Media and Entertainment division at Welingkar Institute of Management, Sharada oversees the content and skill enhancement for the students to further their industry readiness. Her vast Industry experience enables her to enrich the talent pool for the corporates and other business entities that seek bright relevant talent for their fast- growing industry.
She is creatively oriented and enjoys writing, singing and painting. She is a published author.