February 24, 2017
Last Issue 17 interview: Preeti Talwai
Hi everybody! Soon the interviews with our Issue 18 authors will be posted, but here’s Preeti, who gave us three poems (a Bop Dead City record) and honestly, I should have published all five that she sent. She’s got some wise words, and if you’d like to read her amazing stuff, click here or, if you’re a real jerk, don’t.
Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
I would characterize my poetry as always vulnerable, often nostalgic, and sometimes unsettling. I revel in the “what could have been.”
Tell me about your poems “Skin,” “Someone,” and “Home.”
All three poems, in different ways, are about coming to terms with the idiosyncrasies of one’s identity. “Skin” is about a South Asian woman confronting the aesthetic expectations of Western beauty — her physical identity. “Someone” is a cry for acceptance and celebration of fragility and imperfection in emotional identity. And “Home” attempts to capture the yearning for belongingness — searching for the symbolic feeling of “coming home” — and speaks to a kind of spiritual identity. Like much of my writing, these poems, too, are a way for me to dissect and grapple with my own insecurities and sense of self.
Who or what inspires you to write?
My everyday observations, nostalgia about the past, my social interactions, and the work of other poets. I often write as a way to analyze my own thoughts and emotions and reflect on emotional experiences. I am inspired to write when I have encounters with others; my poetry is a way to express in writing what I cannot express verbally to that person — a kind of afterthought to an emotional experience. As a result, my poems are often very short and written in the second person. I’m also very inspired by my cultural background and experiences growing up as a first generation Indian American.
When did you first start writing poetry?
I can remember writing my first poems for school projects in elementary school, and acrostic poems for family and friends.
What are you working on now?
Sporadic bursts of poetry, that I hope will crystallize into some sort of collection or book.
Is there a website/blog where we can keep up with your work?
Not yet, but hopefully in the near future!
Any advice for your fellow writers?
Don’t equate your literary performance/acceptance with your literary identity. I think this is particularly hard because many writers take their craft so personally.