A picture of punk rock elegance, she takes her seat amongst the poets with an unassuming nature and a simple smile on her face. But once she picks up her poetry and breathes life into them, both Navkirat Sodhi and her words thrill you with their secretive allure and surprising depth. Having published two collections of poetry, Ms. Sodhi brings her sarcastic wit and seductive allusions all the way from Delhi.
Having studied English literature and journalism, she was well on her way to becoming a broadcast journalist and even worked with BBC; but a gnawing feeling prompted her to quit her job and take up writing. A sabbatical of a few months created a deep hollow in herself which could only be filled with words that she had refrained from writing all those years. It was not a conscious choice to become a writer or write poetry she says but rather a natural result of the ebb of words within her. Before her move to Delhi, she scribbled the words in her head, and poetry was born.
“Every moment up till then built up to it. Every moment lived, everything experienced”. She was very conscious of not mass producing poetry, grand in quantity but insipid in quality and chose instead to streamline those stark lines that sting and sear as she recites them. Her work is not free from influence but it is free from imitation. She steps away from the people that inspire her and writes in a way that’s unique to her relationship with the language. Dostoevsky and Murakami impact her work but it is only in a subtle and psychological way.
Most of her poetry takes a very short form with most poems only a few lines long. Much like herself, her work does not speak profusely but it does so effectively. “Love was my full time job” she says and she is proud of how much she knows about the subject. Be it a romantic emotion or love towards a particular thing, it is easy to see how through the verses that she often slices short, the emotion lingers on, much like love itself. In her short poem, “Act III”, she talks about the lukewarm decline of a relationship and does so powerfully in less than 30 words. Invoking love, memory and the unlearning of emotion, the poem serves as a modern ode to descending love.
Apart from poetry, Ms. Sodhi also dabbles in art. A self-taught painter, she has been painting for a year and a half and hopes to present her paintings next year. Most of her artwork ties into her poetry and represents the abstract through figures instead of words. Fashion is also a huge part of her personality. She talks of how unlike most poets that walk around with the air of “the artist on the fringe” with their khadi clothes and “jhola pai”, she is very conscious of what she wears and how she presents herself. Thanks to her best friend Gaurav, a leading designer in the country, fashion and design have become an important part of her life. Navkirat Sodhi is not merely the words she bleeds on to the page but also the impression she creates as she walks into the room and it is quite clear, that both will linger on.
Thanks Prakriti Foundation for organizing such wonderful poetry festival in Chennai .
Thanks Sandhya Kannan and Haris Manian for an amazing article. All pictures are taken by our team member Hasan Mohammed
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