with Anisha Kaul:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
As I enrolled in my Bachelor’s in English Literature at the University of Delhi, I chanced upon an open call for the college magazine Pramila and submitted my words. To my surprise, the poem got featured in print and the publication made me confident with my art. I kept nurturing this new found love and was honored with the opportunity of editing the same magazine, in the following year.
Interestingly, my first influences came from prose fiction and not poetry. I admired the Indian English authors like R. K. Narayan and Ruskin Bond, their language and writing style felt inviting and I spent most of my time reading them.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Anisha: This question becomes all the more difficult to answer, after a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in English Literature! There have been so many brilliant poets and authors who have not left my mind ever since I first encountered them. My writing has been very much influenced by experimental writers, of them all, I find Laurence Sterne and James Joyce absolutely brilliant. From them, I learned to work on the form of my poems, breakthrough all possible structural restrictions and wrote visual poems like ‘Revisiting a Site of Loss’ featured in the debut issue of the Splintered Disorder Press. Also available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/RedSkiesRachelSmall/dp/B08VXC22JV/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=red+skies+rachel+small&qid=1612918565&sr=8-4
Another visual poem of mine ‘Virginia Never Learns to Tell Time’ was featured in Issue 6 of the 3 Moon Magazine. https://c5009f5c2be6487cbab36bd93fbc4ab7.filesusr.com/ugd/5bcec5_3e04504e2d734d0db2930dc6be9e0ef9.pdf
- Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?
Anisha: I was born and brought up in New Delhi away from Kashmir, which was home to my family and community. They had to flee in order to safeguard themselves in the 1990s and began life from scratch. As I grew to comprehend the gravity of it all, their exile became mine and identity as a genocide survivor.
Most naturally, the imagery of home (or rather its absence), exile and identity are prevalent in my writings. It is through my words that I attempt to revisit home that no longer is present in its tangible sense. It is an act of reclaiming my roots and ancestry. I hope of returning home someday and writing in the yard, under the shade of our trees with the river flowing by.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Anisha: This one is tricky to answer.
I will say that all my writing is essentially away from home and it has immensely shaped both my work as well as my identity. The association and love for my native place has only increased these passing years. I have come to cherish everything about it. I hope to witness our final return in my lifetime and of writing a memoire, someday about home, exile and identity.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Anisha: I was an avid reader since childhood, making my way through words and phrases and I really enjoyed it. But writing was solace to me. I remember being awe struck at the poetic sensibilities and the mere fact that words could perform such magic. I wanted to be that magician and perform through my poetry. I feel so content, when fellow poets and readers respond to my work, replicating the wonder which I once had for other poets. Looking back today, I can surely say that this has been a blissful journey of self-discovery.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Anisha: When not writing (or thinking about it), I’m found relaxing near my book shelves, arranging and rearranging their order! Their sight and texture is absolutely comforting.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Anisha: One of my most awaited publication is with Cardigan Press in their upcoming debut anthology Byline Legacies. It was lovely working with their editorial team, as we went along they made the process enjoyable and together we arrived at the best possible version of my words.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
“At the crossroads of a linguistic turn, I had met her/ Where she in her imperfect Hindi, narrated home to me and/ I in my broken Koshur asked for more” from my poem “In Search of a Lost Home” published with WriteNowLit.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Anisha: Family and friends for certain. From the initial encouragement, to witness me write my nights away, to even sometimes reviewing my words and celebrating publications. Their support and kind words allow me to return to writing and keep at it. I take this moment to thank them for they have been through this journey with me and done it all. The writing community which I met on Twitter too has been very supportive and appreciative. It has been a wonderful year of knowing and interacting with Jason De Koff, Elizabeth Bates, Lisa Mary Armstrong, Shiksha Dheda, Zahirra Dayal, Ankita Sharma, Amy Barnes, Shubham Sharma, Melissa Ostrom, Rebecca Ruvinsky and all the other talented people.