Sakshi Narula is a poet, author and an artist from India who lives in Muscat,Oman. She is the author of four poetry collections and also a spoken word artist. Her words center around love, loss, healing, grief and femininity. Some of her poems have been featured in the Survival Anthology by Magesoul Publishing , From One Line Anthology, Book One by Kobayaashi Studios and in Yellow by Yellow Penguin NYC.
I have been reading Sakshi’s poetry for a couple of years now, and she is incredibly gifted. Her poetry is the kind you can find yourself immersed in for hours and not even notice the passing of time. It surpasses the standard of contemporary poetry and should be recognized for its unique and profound style.
Sakshi, your poetry book is unlike any I’ve seen before, and your poems are so refreshingly different from a lot of what we see on social media. Where do you get your inspiration? Have you ever been compared to any other poets? If so, who? If not, who are some of your favorite poets and why?
I have been through a lot of ups and downs like any other person. My writing is a reflection of the things that happened in my life in some form or another. Music and books have always been my steady companions and have inspired a lot of my work too. Yes, I have been compared to a lot of poets in certain reviews purely because I write love poetry and poetry that centers around loss and heartbreak. It would be really boastful of me to state their names so I am going to refrain from doing that, but it has been rather overwhelming and flattering. To answer your last question, my favorite poets are Ada Limon, Andrea Gibson, Sharon Olds, Pablo Neruda, Wendy Cope, Leonard Cohen, to name a few.
When did you begin writing poetry and what was the process like?
I started writing poetry seriously around five years ago. I used to be a blogger and used to ghost write articles before that. It was really surprising to me how organic the process of poetry writing was for me. It was like being in a second skin, like I was meant to do this. I always say poetry found me and helped me heal when I needed it the most. It almost always would start with a line and I would spend hours building and rebuilding a poem obsessively. There are days I would be surprised at how I even ended up writing something that I actually liked reading. In that sense, it has helped me realise that this is a gift, that it has the power to comfort another and I need to use that gift in the best possible way.
How important is revising to you and your writing? Which pieces end up needing the most revisions? Why?
It is extremely important. I think to add layers to your poems, you need to be meticulous with editing and revising. That is what separates a good poet from a great poet. For me, it is going through every line and every word to make sure it is essential to the poem as a whole. Most pieces that are long form and usually poems that I use for spoken word require the most revisions. There needs to be a flow, a rhythm, the ebbs and the flows, the crescendo in the end, a punch in the gut, a feeling that remains with the reader, that takes the most effort.
What subjects are absolutely off-limits to write about?
I don’t write about mental health. I did try, but it takes a lot out of me to write about my struggle with depression and anxiety. I don’t write about certain aspects of my life because it brings a lot of things to surface.
What is your favorite poem? (Of another poet’s? Of your own?)
My favorite poem by me is 41 , A Love Poem To Me. Of another poet… True Love by Sharon Olds, Maybe I Need You by Andrea Gibson
You ask fascinating questions on social media – ones that challenge your readers and fellow authors/poets to think outside of the box. How important do you think it is to think outside of the box as a poet? Do you ever use your fans’ answers as a jumping off point for a poem? If so, what question was it that inspired the poem?
Never really used any answers from Twitter for a poem, but they definitely make for great conversations. It has been fun interacting with writers and readers from all walks of life and countries. It’s beautiful how art and writing connects us all on a very basic human level. More than thinking outside the box, I feel a poet needs to own their voice. Writing to fit a mould on social media or to be able to sell more books can rob one of their authenticity.
Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?
Not really. I haven’t been writing much after I wrote House Of Stars And Flowers On Mars. Maybe it is just a phase. I write when the words find me. I do keep making notes during day if a beautiful line or idea for a poem comes up in my head. When I am writing I do keep going through those ideas.
I know some poets require complete silence when they write, others want ambient noise, and there are some who write to music. What kinds of sounds do you find it easiest to write to? Or none at all?
I enjoy writing with music in the background. I just can’t write with people talking continuously around me. I have my own writing playlists and I play them and write.
What is something you’re afraid of?
I am afraid of losing the people I love and I think that is pretty universal. As a writer I am afraid of not ever having one shining moment with my poetry. But that is what keeps me working on my craft. I just think the only way I won’t accomplish anything is by giving up and I am pretty strong-willed not to give poetry or my ambitions up.
Why do you write poetry?
I started writing because I was in pain and poetry was my safe place, a way to turn that pain into art, a creative release. Now I write because I want to be understood, to be heard and I want to make sense of this world we live in. I always believe there is a poet for everyone, there is a poem in the world that can understand and comfort you, no matter what you may be going through. Poetry is for everyone. So I write because someone may find their comfort in my words and feel seen and not feel stupid for feeling something. Even if there is one person who doesn’t feel alone after reading a poem of mine or my book, then I think it’s important for me to continue writing.
Where can readers find you?
41: A LOVE POEM TO ME…
41, I tear open a song like it's a gift,
a birthday present from Lana, Morrison or Lennon
I dig their hearts out
from the graves in their words,
soothe the scars, 41 scars on mine
and sing it out loud, with a mouthful of wine
Blink once and I was 10 and blink twice and I'm 41
41, I think, maybe ten years or 14 more to go,
I bought a boxful of watercolors
and I haven't learned how to make
watercolor paintings yet.
I have a book about kitchen gardening
and don't know what needs to be planted yet.
Blessed kitchen garden.
Blessed kitchen, blessed garden, blessed home.
Yes, I have been blessed with love,
knock the wind out of me love,
my body hurts, soaked to the bone love.
Blessed with a lover,
the man of my dreams and angel baby souls,
2 playing in the backyard
and 2 in heaven at the end of the rainbow.
They grow, they smile, they laugh, they glow
and they keep me alive,
away from the darkness and never let me go.
But my nightmares are made of the mountain of dishes
in the kitchen's unholy sink,
no friends to cherish, no friends to ring.
I turn a blind eye like they don't exist
and think about strawberries and tomatillos,
and rosemary and habaneros,
the bath salts and the collagen I need,
about the dark chocolate cake,
the beautiful shoulder of lamb in the fridge,
and the crimson sunset today at 41 at my feet.
Yes, I have nowhere to go, nowhere to be
I mute everything, the phone, the world, the
unkempt hair and organic white sheets.
For I will not be as young as I am today,
as pretty as I am today,
as unashamed and unapologetic than I have ever been.
I built a home of poems and a kiln of all the stars in
a home in the middle of wheat fields
41 bricks on the fireplace for 41 poets
who kept me warm on the nights I weeped.
What would Bukowski say about my poems I wonder?
Am I a comfortable poet or someone from the street?
I write my story like it's everyone's story,
and everyone's in it, sonder!
41, Sonder is my favorite word from The Dictionary of
Obscure Sorrows, from any dictionary ever.
41, I reflect on the triumphs of all my yesterdays and
the ones to happen tomorrow.
Let me be your woman on love's landscape,
the slow burn of a song on a cold night,
the blurring bokeh of city lights.
Let me fix your ribs like I fixed mine,
life broke us all differently but broke it did
And so, I poet at 41,
I send you a verse dipped in the smell of rain on a hot
dipped in love from my brave undying heart,
and light from a thousand burning dreams in my eyes.
41, smug, the coffee and I are so hot I laugh
I resist, I fight,
I switch on the table lamp and write.