Spotlight Series: Shreyaa Tandel
Shreyaa Tandel is a self-established poet, or you can say amateur poet, from India. Her poems "Inadvertently Alive", "Virgin" and "Blackhole" have been published in the blue pages lit, and vamp cat magazine respectively. When she isn't writing or is glued in front of a computer/cell phone screen, she spends time singing north Indian classical music and reading the Bhagwad Gita and pretending very hard to be happy, even though she isn't. You can reach her at email@example.com.
She is a regular contributor to Marías at Sampaguitas.
Here are links to her spoken word poetry:
We know that you are handling both writing poetry and contributing regularly for Marias at Sampaguitas. Do you think this position feeds your poetics?
It certainly does I believe. Infact, it has helped me grow and be better as a person and especially as a writer/poet. I think the type of platform it is, the diversity of art and artists found on it, that too within a year, I believe that’s brilliant and is going really well all thanks to the EIC Keana Labra. It gave me one of my first homes, the first time I felt like yeah, I am a team member. So yeah it is really special for me and my work.
How can you describe your relationship with language(s) while writing poetry?
Languages are too great in themselves, to be told about. but the languages I have so far written in are, similar somewhere, but unique. I have written so far in English, a bit of in Hindi, Urdu and my mother tongue Gujarati. I think each language has its own unique traits, and that makes it bound to certain type of emotions more than the others. Like I believe, Urdu is particularly for love, and everything about it. Hindi is for more serious tones, the non-breezy ones. Gujarati is for love, grief, and strength and so is English.
What is your elimination process while choosing a literary magazine to publish your pieces? How do magazines play a role for literary progress?
The one thing important for me to be ready to submit to a magazine is, their archives, the ‘about us’ column and especially the guidelines. But most importantly I would want the magazine to be progressive and would want it to be inclusive of artists, regardless of futile norms, labels etc.
In “The One Eyed Doll” we meet with images deriving from strong physical and psychological conditions of a young little girl. What is main drive that shaped this poem? Or can I ask, the main drive that shaped your style of living?
Trigger warning : “The One Eyed Doll” was published in Marisa Crane’s The Collective Unrest, and what made me want to submit to the magazine was the initiative/cause behind it. The poem is written from the mishap that happened to me when I was in 5th grade. I was sexually assaulted, when I was going to a language tuition in the stairway of the building where the tuition was located. I never really got over it, and it wasn’t taken as sensitively by my family. I was told not to speak about it to anyone ever, so it was me there, a 5th grade girl, carrying trauma of being touched where no 11 year old is supposed to be touched; being told not to speak about it to anyone. It was not just, and was ignored like a normal wound. I was helpless, but knowing of this medium I felt if I could voice out and help people in a way that their trauma is helped with, then why not? That would be the biggest form of justice I could get.
When did you first realize your affinity for poetry? What is your “origin” story?
When I was around 13 years old. My origin story is, I was basically homeless in a home, and not completely content with myself. In the education system/schools I grew up in, I was taught perfectionism above everything else. Hence I felt like not just doing what mostly everyone does; and was like just write? To be unconventional, find home and probably yourself? And hence it begun. But the biggest inspiration for me to originate that from within myself, was my good friend and author of the book, I am me Mansi Mehta. We were 13 y/os and I read her poem about One direction, and it inspired me to write, and haven’t turned back since then gratefully. Thank you god, the stars, skies, Mansi, everyone and everything for making this happen!
Which is your favorite genre to read? Which is your favorite to write?
Reading elegies, haikus and sonnets (the 14 liners). Writing Elegies, always, elegies.
Do you feel like your poetry falls under a certain category, such as experimental, contemporary, etc.? If you could have your work associated with another poet, who would it be and why?
Well, it’s unconventional, or at least I believe it is. As it has no origin or end, i.e. it could be about anything. From a mop to a fan, to scars, to butterflies, clouds, to nurses and ice creams everything that crosses my head. At this point in my career as a writer, I don’t think I am good/decent enough to associate my work with any poet. Because there are many many great poets and I am just learning, continuously
Do you participate in spoken word/slam poetry? If so, where can we find your performances? How is writing spoken word different from ‘traditional’ poetry?
I have so far performed thrice in open mics held in my city. Spoken poetry is more accessible and to the point, where our voice shapes our poetry more than our words do, that’s what I believe. Where as written poetry is more open to, figures of speech and different formats, which makes it different.
What is your ‘process’ for writing poetry?
As I said, my writing is as chaotic and as calm as it can get. It is about anything I feel a lot, or something that impacts me, also about something which I believe should be talked about. So yes, my writing process is overthinking (pardon), repose and silence.
Which do you prefer more: writing poetry or reading poetry?
Writing poetry. Always.
What are your methods for overcoming ‘writer’s block’? What do you do when you can’t seem to find inspiration?
To overcome writer’s block, I do everything a google searched listicle tells me. Jk. But yes, I do, get fresh air, listen to music, read poetry/novels, exercise, and write even though I don’t feel like the poem has arrived. I write regardless, as it gives me a push to do better, I don’t know though, if it’s healthy or not.
A lot of writers struggle with time management. Do you have a day job? If so, how do you balance work, writing (poetry and your novel), family, and personal time?
As cliché as it goes but balance is the key, after all. I’ve recently got a day job. Sometimes everything else might take over, but it’s just game of priorities, which is as tough as it can get due to several reasons both daunting and not. But also, importantly a poem should arrive through the heart for it to be pitch perfect.
What do you want the readers to know about you?
That I too am a mess, like everyone else (high fives and shout outs to us!) And also, please please read my work, support it, and let me know about it (preferably in a constructive way?) Thank you!
What change would you like to see within the writing community and why?
I see a few and so communities and submitters, disrespecting the certain marginal communities, through pieces and descriptions in them. And few magazines, accepting and publishing racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic etc. pieces. And I truly believe, such things should not be just “let go” of, and “co-exist” when the sole purpose of writing is to make a difference in a progressive, constructive and positive manner.
Where do you expect to see yourself (as a writer) in the next five years? The next ten years?
Learning, being slow yet steady. And winning hopefully!
Are there any immediate events or publications that you have coming up that you want the readers to know about?
My upcoming work will be seen in five to nine magazine’s third issue, Womanly mag’s upcoming issue; recently in She will speak Anthology, and In January next year, Screaming in silence anthology. Also I have in July this year, started an anthology/lit mag called OAD/Oppressed Asian Daughters anthology. Its main theme is for people identifying as women belonging to Asia/of Asian descent to voice about their oppression which is normalized often as a lifestyle; through essays, poetry and short stories. We are also looking for website/graphic designers, and social media managers and four-line poem submissions. So I would want the readers, if any interested in, to submit/ apply away!
Interview conducted by Nazlı Karabıyıkoğlu, who is the Interview Editor for Marías at Sampaguitas. She is an author from Turkey, enthusiastic traveler, Feminist activist, and Mother of four cats and countless animals all over the world. Full-time resident in Georgia, escaped from the oppression in Turkey. Has 5 published books in Turkish. For further information: www.nazlikarabiyikoglu.com.