American poet Jane Kenyon had once said, “The poet’s job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.” And poet and blogger Tikuli whose first collection of poems was published last year, poetry helps her flesh out emotions which she never knew existed in her. She speaks to us about her experience of reading and writing poetry, her popular blog Spinning The Yarn of Life, her favourite authors and her other interests.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you start writing poetry?
I was brought up in a family of liberal educationists. I spent a major part of my life as a homemaker but now my sons are grown up and I am working as a freelance content writer and marketing communication specialist.
I must have been in my teens when I started penning down short poems. I actually began to learn the art of writing good poetry some five – six years ago… Writing poetry helped me change the old order. I find it more intimate and tender to express in the form of a poem. When I read a good poem by someone I feel it in my pulse. I see my own face in their experience and that is why I write. To feel this connect is very important. Poetry flushes out a feeling, an emotion, a thought, a question that you never knew lay buried inside you. A little arrangement and rearrangement of words opens up a lot of possibilities.Life is a great teacher and I have a student heart. My life is too chaotic and in poetry, you can say a lot in a few lines, you can play around with words and have a finished piece in a short time. That’s what I love about poems and that’s the reason I write them.
2. From recipes, to short prose and poems… your blog, Spinning a Yarn of Life seems to have it all. How do you decide what to post and what not to?
I began blogging in 2008. I had no idea how to channelize my creative energy. I was passionate about writing, wanted to be heard and understood and still had no platform then a friend introduced me to blogging. In the beginning I was not sure if it would work for me. The inner critic kept pulling me away constantly. I persisted. I wanted to give it a try. Blogging gave me the platform to raise issues which are normally pushed under the carpet. I don’t usually plan any posts. The recipes were actually filler posts in the beginning. I am as passionate about food as I am about writing so even though I am not a food blogger I decided to share recipes from my kitchen. My blogging is totally dependent on my mood. Since mine is a personal blog I just write whatever connects with me on a particular day. It could be a poem, a story, a travel memory or some socially relevant topic. These days, I feel my blog has become a bit neglected because of my complete involvement with writing for publishing but I try and keep it going by sharing sometime as and when possible.
3. What inspires you to write?
Life. I am fascinated and inspired by all its aspects. It is full of untold stories. Told and untold. A snippet of overheard conversation, a sentence or phrase in a book, a piece of music, an interesting or unusual fact, a conversation with someone, the changing landscape while I travel in and outside the city, my inner chaos or for that matter the outer ones. Anything can be an inspiration. Also I write because I have to. I am driven by emotions, imagination and an urgent need to create. It is also therapeutic for me. I write to balance my energy meridians so sometimes an exhilarating moment or a frustrating one becomes a muse.
Writing poetry helped me change the old order. I find it more intimate and tender to express in the form of a poem. When I read a good poem by someone I feel it in my pulse.
4. And do you ever have a writer’s block? What do you do to get rid of it?
Oh Yes, I do get a writer’s block. The signs are easily recognizable, angst starts filling me up, all the fantastic ideas come to me during sleep or in the shower. The page remains empty at all times of the day. It is very frustrating. There is no simple recipe to beat this, except not to think about it for a while. Ranting helps. Cooking too and I use this gap to write recipes. During such times I listen to jazz or any other music that is soothing to the mind. I don’t read when hit by a writer’s block. Somehow it messes things up more. So, I let the feeling pass. Write small FB notes or jot down whatever comes to the mind in a notepad. I always keep a notepad and a pencil ready. It’s a habit. You never know where the need to write will suddenly resurface.
5. Who are your favourite writers and poets and have they in anyway motivated you to be better at your craft? If so, how?
Byron, Milton, E.E.cummings, Neruda, Octavio Paz, Longfellow Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, Amrita Pritam, Jayanta Mahapatra, Kamala Das, Keki Daruwala, Ismat Chugtai, Arun Kolatkar, Saadat Hassan Manto, Garcia Marquez. I love so many of them and each one has inspired me in some way or the other but my actual learning came from poets/writers I read through Facebook. Seb Doubinsky, Goirick Brahmchari, Nabina Das, Praneta Jha, Tabish Khair, Jeet Thayil, Kris Saknussemm and James Goddard (Both of them are my mentors too). Reading their work broadened my perspective. I could name a few others too who have been instrumental in my poetic evolution along with these. Just reading them has helped me improve on my writing style. I also go and read a lot of poetry and fiction blogs, fan fiction too. Reading a wide variety of writing helps me to explore new dimensions of writing. It helps me to break my inner barriers. Writing is an individual craft I have never been influenced by any particular author or their style but yes, it helps in opening up windows inside you.
Life is a journey and I really do not know where it will take me in the next five years. For me living every day, doing what I love to do is more important.
6. Apart from writing what are your other interests?
I love to cook/bake whenever possible. I enjoy travelling though in recent times though in the last few years I haven’t done that much due to my health and other issues. I plan to take it up again. I paint sometimes. Music, reading, gardening are some other things I am passionate about.
7. What is the one word of advice you would give to all budding writers?
P.S – Tell YOUR story.
8. Finally, one book of poetry out, have you started working on the next book yet and what is it going to be about? And where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I am working on a novelette and a few short stories. I am writing poetry too but can not say if there is going to be another poetry book or not. Life is a journey and I really do not know where it will take me in the next five years. For me living every day, doing what I love to do is more important. Let’s see what the universe unfolds as we go along. As a writer too, I just want to enjoy the process.