Sharanya Manivannan is the author of four books, including the award-winning short story collection, The High Priestess Never Marries and the newly-released poetry collection, The Altar of the Only World.
1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??
I wrote my first poem at 7 years old, and it was built around all the words I could think of that rhymed with “cat”.
- What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?
I’ve written and read poetry for so much of my life it’s very much one of the modes through which I know myself. One of the greatest gifts poetry has given me has been consolation. At other times, it has been a way for me to salute beauty by trying to bring more into the world.
- Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?
The problem begins with how poetry is taught in schools. Students should never be forced to memorise poems, or be force-fed “meanings” of poems. This is a cruel and meaningless method, both to people and to poetry itself. Teach the word through voice, teach it as love, teach it as a shield against loneliness. It is difficult to change people’s minds later in life, when they’ve been traumatised by the way poetry has been introduced to them as children.
- When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?
Whenever a poem calls to me. This can be day or night. I’ve bolted upright from my sleep many times because the words were suddenly pouring out of me. Other times, it’s less dramatic — a subtle shift aided and accompanied by music.
- What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?
In a lot of ways, Insta-poetry is a reaction to the horrible way poems are taught in schools. I like the accessibility of the medium, but I dislike how it encourages laziness, the need for constant validation, and a skewed relationship with one’s own work — it ceases to be craft if you’re counting likes.
- Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?
I’m trying to become better as a writer of fiction, and as an illustrator. I hope poetry forgives me these extramarital alliances.
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