This was in the paper last week, and while not all of these quotes are real quotes, it’s enough in the spirit of what I said for me to share. The original article appeared in the Hindu (I think only in the Hyderabad edition) on January 19th. It can be found at:
Aditi Rao, winner of the Srinivas Rayaprol prize, talks about what poetry means to her
She is a writer, educator and a dreamer. Aditi Rao who won the last Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize says she started writing even before she knew that she wanted to write. “I don’t have a real answer for why. It started out because I saw it as play and fun; in some ways it still is. But it’s not towards a goal of publishing as such. It keeps me sane and rooted,” she says. However she cannot judge commercial writing, she clarifies, “I don’t write commercially, but that doesn’t mean that other writers shouldn’t. The filtering process happens at the readership level and it’s best left to them to choose what kind of writing they want to read.” She feels that there is a lot of reading material out there. Usually people don’t read all the books written by one author. She says that reading is a “mood-based thing”, you might not always want to read a serious book that will take up a lot of your time. Commercial and fun-reads come in handy then.
Writing happened to her because she loves the language. “It’s the story you’re telling and the way you’re telling. Like Kiran Desai, the music of the language, the way it flows, the play of the words matters. Writing should be enchanting,” feels the Delhi-based poet. What really inspired her poetry was a summer spent in Latin America. “All the writing I did then was inspired by the place; the people I saw and met there started showing up in my poems, becoming characters. My poetry took a giant leap.”
Aditi says that she is new to the world of publishing. In a world that’s dominated by bestsellers and reader domination, how difficult is it to not fall into the rut of writing for an audience? “I love the process of writing and there was a disconnect between that and publishing which is after all a business. I saw that writers often shaped their work according to what sells, I saw that in my creative writing programme as well and it didn’t sit well with me. Until I was sure of finding my own voice, I felt vulnerable and didn’t want to publish. I feel ready now.
I can tell when I am being honest and when I am writing to please somebody,” she says. A personal connect with the readers is more important to Aditi than prizes and awards. Poetry she says is a more concentrated art form, “You’re packing in emotions and imagery in a small space,” she says.