Cecilia Abraham’s earliest memory of writing a poem was when she was an eight-year-old. It was on the possibility of ‘nuclear war’ which had a line that says, “Imagine a world where there will be no crows”. Cut to a couple of decades later, after being a successful online poet, she has now self-published her first book of poems Not Just A Housewife.
The book has 25 poems on love, motherhood, coming of age and the spoken word.
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, she recalls sending poems for school sections in the local newspapers, “I remember my mother typing out my poems on her dot-matrix printer at an office and posting them off to various publications. In fact, she even posted a poem, the ‘Lily of Myanmar’ to my then idol, Aung San Suu Kyi.”
An army wife, Cecilia, loves reading poetry and is constantly amazed by how poets can be so emotional and clever with words at the same time. She calls it ‘word-magic’ – “I gave up poetry for a few years, but I got back to writing it because it is what enjoy the most.”
After being meted with unresponsive commercial publishing houses, Cecilia thought of crowd funding her book as it would allow her to work on her project without biting into her family’s resources.
She adds, “I wanted to go back to having patrons for poetry. Publishing a book is easy these days, but getting readers or patrons involved is a very heart-warming experience. India as a country is still unaware of the perks of crowdfunding but it is a very promising way for any artist to put their art out. It puts alternative voices in the public cultural sphere and builds community patronage around the artist. Even Shakespeare had The Earl of Southampton as a patron.”
Having worked as a radio jockey, communications specialist, PR executive, and educator, the poet finds inspiration from her own life – ‘from people, incidents, places, unfairness, ugliness, truth and beauty. My inspiration actually connects all my experiences and a piece of writing is born.’ Although her primary muse is Muddupalani, a 17th century Telugu poet, she loves contemporary writers like Meena Kandasamy and Rupi Kaur as well.
Cecilia performs her poetry to primarily establish that connect with her audience.
She adds,“Poetry is an oral tradition; people love to listen to poem’s musicality, the sound of rhyme and the rhythm, the emotional depth and the voice behind the words.” All this while the 40-year-old also ‘plays mum to two kids’.
For the middle-class housewife, who was dismissed as not having a ‘literary’ enough voice to make an impact in the niche poetry market, Cecilia raised well over a lakh rupees and self-published her book to make a point while also having creative control over her own work.
Five years from now, she sees herself as having written two more poetry books, a novella and worked as a curator of poetry in India. She adds, “I want to build an online collective of Indian poets from all the states of India, preserving the artistry of the regional languages.”