Q&A: Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Author of 'Itineris' and 'Itineris II'

Dr. Jyoti Kapoor is a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist who is currently practising in Gurugram, Haryana. She has always been interested in arts, literature, music, dance and theatre. She has been practising psychiatry for more than 15 years and often pens down the strife and tribulations of her patients’ innermost conflicts while empathising with them at a therapeutic level. She is continuing her exploration of the inner world of mental processes at the biological, psychological and spiritual levels, and compiling further such literary expressions for a wider audience. Itineris: The Journey Through Mirages, was her first anthology of poems on the undulating course of love and its many expressions. She has recently come out with the book Itineris II: The Journey with In, which is another such exploration of the human psyche and its various perspectives.

I chat with Dr. Jyoti about her books Itineris and Itineris II, her writing journey, the themes that she explores in her poems, and much more.

Hello, Dr. Jyoti! Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hi, I belong to Gurugram, Haryana. After finishing senior secondary education from DAV Public School, Gurgaon, I went on to pursue MBBS from Sardar Patel Medical College, Bikaner. I was always interested in human psyche and emotional aspects of our life, so I chose to do post graduation in Psychiatry from PGIMS, Rohtak. I am practicing psychiatry for the past 15 years and am based in Gurugram, Haryana.

How did you get started as a poet?

Literature and writing was always a passion. I wrote my first patriotic poem at the age of 7 years. I also used to write short stories and essays and won various awards in Inter-school competitions at the District and State level. The journey has been long and it’s only recently that I have begun to put my creations in the form of books.

If you could only describe your poetry book Itineris II in five words, what would they be?

As the name suggests, my poetry book is ‘an exploratory experience of life’.

Now tell us a little more about the book!

‘Itineris’ in Latin means journey, and that’s what I personally perceive life to be. From a naive interpretation of socio cultural archetypes to practical aspects of interaction with fellow people, each one of us goes through a myriad of confusing emotions. As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, I come across such dilemmas on a regular basis and empathising with such emotions asks for simultaneous search for resolution of conflicts emanating in the process of therapy.

Being a psychiatrist gives me a unique perspective into people’s psyche, and their conflicts and dilemmas which sometimes come across as psychological symptoms and sometimes through physical effects. A sad person may appear to be laughing and a sobbing person may have a happy countenance. Itineris II explores those emotions in various contexts, from romantic notions to cultural symbolism, each one has a different flavour of love/pain, joy/misery, peace/frustration and that’s what Itineris II is all about.

What can readers expect from the poetry book Itineris II?

Poetry has different meanings for different persons and based upon the state of mind the reader is in, she/he can be expected to be taken on a roller coaster ride of pain and passion, thrill and exasperation, joy and misery, but at the end, it’s about accepting who one is and being satisfied with it.

'Itineris: The Journey Through Mirages', published by Notion Press
'Itineris II: The Journey with In', published by Notion Press

What was the inspiration behind writing Itineris: The Journey Through Mirages and Itineris II: The Journey with In?

Itineris I is my personal journey of emotional evolution. In the journey through mirages, I explored the fleeting experiences of infatuation and passion which progressed through various stages of doubt and betrayal. Further professional and personal opportunities resulted in my perceptions becoming more neutral and my reactions more mature. So, the focus of exploration shifted from the outside to the inside. Itineris II is thus an introspective view of our strife with life. It explores feelings and events from the ideal perspective of a dreamer which gradually matures to a search for meaning in our own reactions, to finally a state of being a neutral observer. The final state is self belief which completes the circle.

The poetry collection Itineris II is your next book after Itineris. How is Itineris II different from your previous poetry book?

Itineris I is a look at one’s emotional state as a reaction to the outer world, a state when a person seeks to belong to another and falls in and out of cultural and social representations of romantic love and its repercussions. Itineris II takes this journey inward, from mere reflection of the archetypes of human relationships and expectations to an expedition into the depths of one’s own psyche. I feel that the poetry of Itineris II complements the themes of Itineris I, by resolving some of the turmoils created by the first! To illustrate the poetry further, I chose to use my own sketches this time. The cover page is also designed by me with the soul of the book in mind.

What different themes have you discussed in the poems in both these books?

The first book explores the interpersonal interactions of the young soul. The youthful spirit is open to infatuation and romance, based on the fairy tales we read and create for our own self. The hormonal and physical sensations are at the centre stage during this phase, and the feelings are mesmerising and enthralling if we are in favourable circumstances, but become dark and agonising when expectations don’t get fulfilled. The journey of the first book is themed around a mirage because it’s more of an illusionary perception of how things should be in a relationship, than how things really are.

The second book takes it into a more realistic perception, and that if one is able to observe things from a neutral perspective, the dilemma disappears.

How do your poems develop? Please guide us through your creative process of writing a poem.

Poetry, I believe, is the language of the soul. What we express in prose is mostly factual, straightforward facts and feelings, but there are so many complex experiences that simple words cannot express. Poetry is thus metaphorical, at times a symbolic expression of what can’t be conveyed through mere conversations. All art is thus, this attempt of expressing the inexplicable, be it a painting or a poem, the creator uses the available palette of colours to paint a picture that reflects her mental image of the world. The reader then further uses his or her own mental process to come up with his or her unique view. There is no rule in poetry, and so the medium is the object of reflection.

How have you been coping with the current pandemic and what will be the new normal for you post it?

The pandemic has been a unique experience of our lifetime. Being a doctor, I have been pursuing my work from day one but the novelty of the whole thing did affect all of us. Now after a year, we are more aware and less insecure but the experience has been life changing. We were able to appreciate our family time more, many people got the opportunity to explore otherwise ignored interests and hobbies. The next in the Itineris series is also developing in the post-pandemic phase. With the eye now trained to look at the innermost aspects of the psyche, it will hopefully find the vision for a spiritual awakening. That would be my new normal – a journey beyond!

What are you reading currently? Do you have any poetry book recommendations for our readers?

I pursue the philosophy of The Bhagwat Geeta and have read a few interesting and extensive commentaries on it. I have also explored the interpretations of Rig Veda from scientific and psychological perspective and am also delving into the rich philosophy of Vedic and Upanishadic literature. That’s why I believe my next journey will be in spiritual poetry.

As to recommendations in poetry, whatever catches one’s fancy. I personally read and reread Kahlil Gibran, Rumi and Pablo Neruda. I also like the beauty of Mirza Ghalib’s Urdu poetry. Kumar Vishwas is amazing in his poetic renditions of the current sociopolitical scenario. There are so many stars in the sky, how do you just stop at one.

The books ‘Itineris’ and Itineris II’ are available online here and here and at your nearest bookstore.

From Jammu, J&K; Studied in DPS, Jammu.