“Can we do this in Tamil please?” she requests at the beginning of the interview. “I know English, but this is the language that runs in my blood, and I am also learning to assert myself in front of people and be proud of the lineage of the language,” she says.
Meet Saranya Chezhian – she has over 20 collections of Tamil poetry to her credit, on subjects ranging from Humanity and Feminism to even a dedication through her poem for Sri Lankan bomb victims.
My poems are a foreplay of feelings. In a world full of temporary things, you are a perpetual feeling.
Born and brought up in Chennai, she is a BE graduate who pursued her Masters in California and is currently working in California. She pursues and views poetry as much more than just a hobby and hopes that her poetry would reach bigger masses and create a voice for the numerous social issues revolving the world around us.
What subjects of poetry do you explore? What do you wish to convey through your poems?
I started writing poems since my 8th grade. When I started to write, I found in art of poetry a way to reconcile dilemmas and anxieties of adolescence and thus wrote mainly on positive subjects of happiness and love. I found a new lease of life in spreading positive vibrations through my poems. However, in the recent years I have also written on more intense subjects like Feminism and Humanity.
Do you write your poems in one sitting or edit them over time? Do you follow a set scheme?
I write them at one go as I don’t like breaking the thought process. I write in free verse mostly. What I look forward to as I wrap up the poem is that, the verses should trot off the tongue and dance in the mind and ears of the reader. So as long as it achieves that, I don’t really follow a set scheme, I love writing in all ways – rhymes, assonance and alliteration.
What do you think is the toughest task, as a poet?
That a poem can be interpreted in different ways is both a pro as well as a con. Con because, sometimes, it doesn’t reach the audience in the way you intended to. But I am always excited to read the different ways of interpretation – indeed it is only when the audience reacts to the poem is when it starts gathering more velocity. Another common challenge, while writing, is to replicate the imagination and thought process in an accurate way through the art form.
What are the factors that make up a good poem according to you?
Effortless flow of words, content, intensity and the extent of evocation that it brings out.
Do you think Tamil Poetry Space is dwindling with vacancy?
Tamil Poetry space is wrestling with vacancy in the sense that people are locking their art in personal diaries. There are many enthusiastic readers for this space, and dearth of poems online that satiate the need. So yes, it is dwindling with vacancy not in the need for talent but to stand testimony to the talent. I wish more people came forward and shared their thoughts and work of art.
What inspires you to write? Do you face the writer’s block?
I seek inspiration to write, from everywhere, from people and news around me. Happy incidents that I come across every day motivates me to write. There is always something to write about to vent your thoughts and this is the most powerful medium of expression. I do face the block sometimes but to overcome it, I take steps to read extensively to bring about that critical thinking, to admit that an idea is a squib, to re-draft over and over, and yet not lose the wonderment of this art.
Favorite lines from your poems?
Lines in my poem dedicated to victims of SriLankan blast, which reads about the grief of the person who lost his loved one, and says that, “I used to see my morning sun-rays in your eyelids and now it feels like I would never have any more sunshine in my life”
What is your goal as a poet? Where do you want your poetry to go and what do you want your poetry to do?
I feel blessed to write poems and I want to keep writing as long as I can do justice to the art. Also, I would be very happy when my work reaches a lot of people and every comment or feedback that I receive is my reward. My goal is to write on more happy and positive lines, lines that spread love and invoke empathy for one another, alongside words that are powerful enough to question evil thoughts.
What are you currently writing?
My current poem is about the strength of Independent women. I am also writing on topics like cultural evolution. I publish my work on Facebook.