Featuring Pooja Nansi
"I AM STILL WRITING my way towards a place where I fit," Pooja Nansi quotes on Facebook, a line from Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist. These words resonate with her, a writer with her own brand of emotive poetry and beautiful spoken word pieces.
Pooja describes Love is An Empty Barstool, her second collection of poetry, as "a time capsule". It is a melting pot of emotions and realisations from a more transitional time in Pooja’s life.
“The title, which pays homage to a Bukowski poem, says it all for me. When you’re in a bar and the seat next to you is empty, it could mean someone’s left and you’re alone, but it’s also the possibility that there’s space for the right person to turn up,” she explains.
Poetry is how she found her voice and learned to say what needed to be said. Reflecting on her journey of self-discovery, the voracious reader points out that her love for literature started from a young age.
“Books were safe private things I could cocoon myself in, words were airplanes to wherever I wanted to go. You know that feeling when someone says what you’ve always felt but could never articulate? That’s a kind of healing and a kind of salvation that writers can offer and I have always been fascinated with how the right word in the right place can change everything”, she adds.
Influenced largely by personal and family history, Pooja also takes inspiration from music that she grew up with—especially old Hindi songs from the 1960s. Music, she explains, does not only influence the way she hear words, it also shapes the moods she likes to create.
I love the feeling of a sharpened pencil.
A quiet space is difficult to find but she stresses its importance for writing and thinking. “Take time to think, take time to feel and to question everything. Personally I feel that cutting myself off for a couple of days helps me reconnect with my own thoughts and feelings and opinions.”
What’s next for Pooja?
On poetry—“I am currently working on collecting my grandparents stories and turning it into a body of work, it keep evolving but it’s a real labour of love for me. I’ve also been playing around with form a lot, which has been an interesting creative experiment.”
Speakeasy—“One gap I’d love to see filled (in Singapore) is a solid collection of spoken word/performance poetry that is too strong, too smart and too loud to be pushed aside and demands the same respect as poems meant for the page. I hope to feature more emerging voices, more unexpected pairings and push the boundaries to show that it’s not just poets who read poetry.”
Burn After Reading—“A community of young and emerging poets and writers aged 16 - 22 founded and supported by Jacob Sam-La Rose and Jasmine Cooray in London. The Singapore chapter is mentored by myself and poet Joshua Ip. We write, we read, we perform, we publish— as widely as possible. We celebrate the importance of understanding craft, and of investing in our immediate and wider communities. We acknowledge the fact that there's always something to learn. We’ve just accepted a bunch of new poets for our 2015 intake and are terribly excited about things to come.”
Love is an Empty Barstool is available at booksactually.com.