- Welcome to Criticspace Journals, Harsimran. First of all, I would like to know how and when you actually started writing? We all are excited to know about it.
Harsimran Kaur: I express my gratitude towards Criticspace Journals for allowing me to speak about my endeavors. I’m very honored, and I surely appreciate such warmth. I was ten years old when I got my first job at writing. I was a pretentious little bean who had just gotten exposure to the outside world at that time. On certain occasions, when I could not express my notions through speaking and was on the verge of becoming the so-called ‘quiet kid,’ then writing became my acquaintance, and I, the new kid on the block. I’d always had a substantial relationship with writing from a very tender age, and the same has continued to date. It all started with a journal, where I used to pen my ramblings, poems, writings (you name it). When it became something permanent that can be read by an audience, then I started dreaming about seeing my name on the spine of a book, and that’s how the idea of entering the publishing world stuck with me when I was thirteen and had recently discovered this website about Notion Press, a self-publishing house, which enabled writers to self-publish books. And then it all happened in a glance, and voila, there I was, with a glossy paperback in my hand (with my name on not only its spine but also on ten different places on the book), smiling for a picture. I was so proud of myself.
- What are the things in your life that influenced you to write?
Harsimran Kaur: I think it has always been this eccentricity that kept my relationship with writing sane. I’d be baffled by the littlest things. I’d come up with a bucket list of miscellaneous things to achieve in my life. I would keep dreaming and enhance it with new information that would come up in my head. Talking about influences, I’d rather say that everything around me has always influenced me to write. I consider anything and everything as my inspiration. I have always been a stationery lover, and I love when I get new stationery items. It sounds absurd, but getting new journals is also a keen factor that inspires me to write. I love to touch pages. I think that papers are being taken for granted in a way that we don’t have conversations with people where we talk about them in general. Obviously, the environment-related factor is the other facet that I tend to display here. I wonder if there are actual people who talk about the salient character of the addictive phenomena, a piece of paper is. Anyway, this is a whole another conversation, and I better keep it to myself; otherwise, we’d be here forever. If any people inspire me in writing, they are the greatest minds of the past century like Franz Kafka, Kahlil Gibran, Robert Frost, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Wendy Cope, and Toni Morrison. I also idolize Michelle Obama and Arundhati Roy – and I can’t emphasize the fact enough. My mother is also a source of my utmost inspiration, and I admire her for that.
- The poems seem to be a product of your experience. In what span of time did you write the poems?
Harsimran Kaur: I started writing the poems for my recently published poetry collection, “Clementines on my Poetry Table,” in December 2019, and I finished writing them around June 2020, when the world was in the middle of a lockdown. Since I couldn’t get the book published due to urgent nationwide closures due to the pandemic, I saved for publishing it for the following year, in May 2021. I wrote about 75 poems in the first place between this period, and I selected the finest from the whole bundle (at least that’s what I think) for their portrayal in my book. Now inhabiting my book, these poems are not based on a continuous topic because they like intense diversity.
- Do you think poetry gives us lots of freedom to write? Poets are free to relate the poems, verses to the real world with ease. How do you enjoy this freedom?
Harsimran Kaur: I certainly believe that poetry gives freedom to the pen. One of the prominent reasons for the same could be the vulnerable aspects that one can express via poetry in mere words. You can sum up your sentiments with an intensity that becomes translucent once the words feel home to you and once your skin gives you goosebumps. Then again, that poem can break you into a million pieces, with an inbuilt capacity to join it into pieces simultaneously. This never-ending cycle makes you exposed to several attributes of a poem that closes your heart and ultimately opens it with all the force. I won’t try to define the meaning of poetry because then we’d go into its philosophical beliefs, and gosh, I’d rather not be any more pretentious.
The poems that I write are based on various elements that are very close to my heart. This time in one of my poems, I mentioned Moleskine, a brand of stationery that I adore. The other time I wrote a poem on climate change when I saw a half-eaten apple lying on the ground. Ask why I wrote a poem on that half-eaten apple, and I’d elucidate that it sucked at that moment to witness it. I felt overwhelmed, and I penned a poem. And one would ask why only a poem and not a piece of fiction/non-fiction, then I’d say that poetry was the language that got circulated into my head in the first place. I think that this is a sort of freedom that I get in poetry, and I surely would like to make a fuss about it and not keep it dormant in my headspace.
- What do you think is the role of poetry in literature? Today, as we see, most of the readers are preferring novels only. Do you think readers should give equal preference to poetry as well?
Harsimran Kaur: I think that consuming poetry daily is not something that the current generation is considerate towards. Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, T.S Elliot remain unexplored, and their paperbacks stay on the brink of our bookshelves. When I go at someone’s place and get a glance through their bookshelves, then one thing remains clear: poetry is not something that people expose themselves to. It may be the intimidation, but I think that it’s always great to have a cup of tea and sit in a cozy space with, say, Emily Dickinson and consume the words with every sip.
The fact that more preference
is given to novels is something that I totally agree with. I’d like to blame
the education sector for the same. If we open up a secondary/senior-secondary
textbook and look at the curriculum, then you’d observe merely 5-6 poems in it.
Talking about lessons/stories, they seem to engulf the whole textbook. I’m not
saying anything particularly wrong about it, but this scenario makes me wonder
if this is what we are teaching the young
generation: to focus on a more plot-oriented narrative rather than poetry, which is considered the language that can bring a change through mere words. Pardon my cynicism, but I guess that a lot better could be done for the young people of our country, who are very fondly described as the ‘future of our country in every government notice.
- As a reader, which type of books you like. Tell us something about your interest areas in literature.
Harsimran Kaur: I love reading literary fiction, modern classics, and poetry. I also love to read translated works of literature from different countries because that’s how globalization is facilitated, one of the aspects that I love the most about books. I’m prominently interested in American and British literature, which will most probably be the focus of my higher studies.
- What do you do besides writing poetry?
Harsimran Kaur: Besides writing, I am just a normal school girl who loves to bake (and eat!), watch a million movies, and read lots of books! I also take up random research topics that pop up in my head, like little ramblings manifesting themselves to bring to my attention, and certainly look out for them.
- Many writers and readers may come across this interview. What advice would you like to offer to those who are new to poetry writing?
Harsimran Kaur: I don’t think that I’ve built up a capacity in myself where I would go around giving pieces of advice to newly emerging writers or poets, but I’d indeed say that it’s imperative to be who you are and do something for the things you care about. It’s vital to follow your passion because you’ll inhabit a kind of madness that will keep you alive for a very long time.
- Thank you so much for answering all my questions. All the very best to you for the future and your book too!
Harsimran Kaur: Well, thank you, I appreciate your remarks. It was such a privilege to answer your questions, and I indeed had a great time. “Clementines on my Poetry Table: A Poetry Collection” is out nationally as well as internationally, and I hope that you’d check it out and let me know how you felt about it, at my website, www.harsimranwritesbooks.com/
Author: Harsimran Kaur
Interview by: Aashi Dewangan at Criticspace