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Featured Artist: Maniksha

Maniksha is a Poet, Teacher and an aspiring Novelist. She has struggled with social anxiety while growing up and found it challenging to connect with people. But soon learned to use writing as a tool to communicate with the world. Encouraged by her mentor, she set upon this journey of using poetry to paint her emotions for the world to see.

Her poetry collection “Altars of Madness” was published this year, and she is working on a science fiction novel. 

What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry is both escapism and therapy. Sometimes it is a part of my thinking process and other times a means of communication. I am painfully introverted and have social anxiety, not a delightful combination. Poetry allows me to understand my emotions and convey them better. It is like the Pensieve from Harry Potter. I can pour out my thoughts on a paper and analyse them at leisure. As an introvert, that’s how I associate with the world, with people.

What inspires your poetry?

Oh, a lot of things. This might get a little long.

When I say emotions drive my poetry, they are not mine alone. Poetry, like any other literature, reflects society. It can be a response to what is happening around us, and it’s exhilarating to be a part of this new age movement. The poets are telling stories again.

There was a time when the hymns about gladiators, and magic, and superstitions were sung. Today, poets have their own stories to tell. Of racial profiling or xenophobia, of mental illnesses or the stigma that comes with it, of a melting planet and dying biodiversity, of children being killed in schools or Women’s rights. The list goes on. And this wave of new age poetry (albeit a slow one) is what inspires me to be a poet with something worthwhile to say.

Also, there are so many writers whose works have inspired me to write. I grew up reading the poetry of Robert Frost who taught me to explore human nature via poetry, Dylan Thomas taught me to use my poems as a mouthpiece, and from E. E. Cummings I learned how to play with words and grammar in a poem and to strip it of its sense until only the meaning remains. There are so many more. But these have had an enormous influence on me as a poet.

“Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light”

-Dylan Thomas

How can you read these lines and not write poetry, how can you not weaponize your words, the only thing you can? These rebels, these poets, inspire me to write.

Which are most important to you: (1) joy, (2) peace, (3) patience, (4) kindness, (5) self-control, (6) faithfulness, (7) gentleness, (8) love, or (9) goodness? If you can, explain why.

Joy, there can be joy in anything and everything.

What sort of things are you looking forward to improving this year?

I want to explore more genres in Poetry. And I want to improve my skills and be more organised as a writer.

What is one big dream you have?

I have always wanted to be a time traveller!

Joking apart, I want to help in Education field. I grew up in a poor family and have seen firsthand how education can improve your life, and of generations to come. But often, so many children do not have access to it, hence they are stuck in this loop of poverty, unable to realise their potential. I was fortunate enough to have educators who saw the potential in me, provided me with opportunities and helped me believe in myself. I am where I am today, because of them. Now I want to give back. And if I can, help to revolutionise the education system so it can accommodate the neurodivergent children and facilitate them in such a way that they can be guided with no compromise to their mental health. I know this is a big dream to have, but I hope and wish for it to come true.

"Altars of Madness"

What is being fierce?

You ask

And I look at your petals

Such a hue of orange-red

For a moment

I am alive in you

But then a crisp petal

Withered grey with age

Fall off from me

I hide the pain

But you see the grimance

And smile, understanding

Being fierce,

You reply

Is to be someone like you.

Follow Maniksha here:

Twitter: @__poetism

Instagram: @__poetism

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