Interview: Ankita Rathour
Ankita Rathour grew up in Bihar. After completing her Masters in English she took to teaching as a full time career. She is working with Hindustan Times Learning Centers now. The most fascinating point in her life till now has been her Fulbright Scholarship to US where she taught Hindi as a foreign language. She is a religious follower of the thriller genre both in print and on screen. In her free time, she reads, writes, talks to herself or loves to watch crime series. Her favorite writers are: DH Lawrence, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Arun Joshi and Toni Morrison. Among the poets she loves Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Sarojini Naidu, Rabindranath Tagore and John Keats.
Why did you think of writing this poetry collection 'Epiphany'?
Frankly, I didn’t think of writing the collection. It just happened to me. Hence, the epiphany. I have been writing since I was 10 years old. One fine day, I took the decision to present my writing to the world. But yes, there were some significantly important people who motivated me to do so and I am thankful for that. I started sharing my work with fellow artists, poets and that paved the way to bring the collection out for the readers on a larger platform.
Most of your poetry advertises vital themes, why did you decide to write on such themes?
I really think that’s what one should be writing about- vital themes that are important to be addressed. I have primarily dealt with the theme of ‘love’ and various facets of it- including the amorous phase, the tussle between the outer and the inner selves, the chaos, the separation etc. The poems are a harmony and tell you a story. As a writer, I have always believed that the most important things in your life are the most unnoticed one. Love, care and the simple art of conversation are being underrated day by day and I think rediscovering them through any art form is necessary.
What are your priorities?
As a writer, my utmost priority is to write the simplest tales and be approachable to any and every reader. I don’t intend to be known as a poet only. I have also written political articles, poems on abuse and my next story is a thriller. I would love to address as many foundations of life as I can through my writing. Simplest tales are the most difficult ones to write and I am focused on addressing the same. My priority is to empower my readers through my writing and encourage mutual respect, love and compassion.
Which of the poems is your favorite? Why?
My favorite poems are:
Where no one Treads: I love the force this poem has and how melancholic and mysterious it is at the same time. It talks about love being marred by constructs. It has a retaliation and metaphysical quality.
Mayhem: This is very special to me. In very few words it tells you about the juxtaposed feelings. It is happiness and sadness entwined. That’s why the ‘mayhem’.
Ardor: I love this poem because of its passion. This for me is a passionate love story between the writer and his/her creation.
Soundless Bellow: The last two lines tell all- Your head rests on my bare chest, relieved And my heart rises on scattered images of him
Distress: A heart in love is always a writer. And if you write, you can relate to this poem. In just four lines it devastates an unexpressive soul. I love the force the words carry!
Undo: It is a simple poem of separation and its pain. I love it for its simplicity. I am so glad my readers loved the poems too. I get overwhelmed when I receive emails and messages about how much they loved it. It feels great!
What was your purpose in getting this poetry collection to the readers?
I had only one purpose: My readers should connect with the poems and should feel as if those poems helped them reach out to the world in general and most importantly to their inner selves. As a woman writer, I also intended my fellow women to address the complex emotions that they go through on an everyday basis. I strongly feel, women need to come out and talk more about what they feel and how they feel. A collection of love poems is just a start in the same direction. The poems also intended to bring different kinds of people together, connecting with each other through the similar emotions as depicted through my poetry. I must tell you that before publishing them, I went on frequent reading sessions with my friends, acquaintances to observe if I am on the right path and I was happy to see that I was.
Tell us an interesting fact about this poetry book?
Every written word is an experience. The collection is a tribute to various people who I had a conversation with- about life and love and tries to depict them as aptly as possible.
Doing a poetry collection in India today and getting it published is not an easy task, how did you find this task?
Yes. That’s a sad fact, I am afraid. I started with random search about publishers. Meanwhile, I also talked to my fellow writers and took advices on how to move ahead. Honestly, I was turned down by many publishing houses because they felt ‘poetry has no market’ and also told me that I should write a novel or a collection of stories instead. I wasn’t disappointed that I got rejected but I was sad to see that poetry was losing its spot. Luckily, I came across Cyberwit and was extremely happy to know that they promote poets. I firmly believe that poetry should be revived and should be promoted as much as possible.
How do you manage writing and family? What is your writing strategy?
Writing and family can never go hand in hand. I am sorry, but that’s my fact. As a writer, my space was of highest priority to me which got entangled with my family life. I wasn’t able to give more time as I could have. Poets and writers have a different existence altogether. They have their own sets of values and processes which always collide with the norm of the society at large. But, no matter how tough it gets, it’s always worth it.
Coming to my writing strategy, I would say that I am a recluse. Writing has to happen when I am all by myself I cannot make a plan to write every day. That just doesn’t happen with me. I need my daily dose of inspiration. I can write straight for ten days and then maybe won’t be able to write for months or years. I cannot compromise with that. For me, that’s the real essence of my writing. I love to experiment with form, structure and words. I think they provide a unique and fresh approach. I get inspired by people around, a good conversation over coffee or just a mere glimpse of a happy child. It depends!
What would you advise your readers and upcoming poets?
For writers and poets: please do not give in easily. Do not go with quantity and by what the ‘market’ looks like. Remember, DH Lawrence’s work was burnt down, women wrote under pseudonyms. It might look like it’s not going to work with you, but it will. Keep on writing and start with publishing in journals- that gives you motivation to move on. Go with the classic approach- write for print. In the world of social media, you would tend to believe that it will be tough to cut a mark and it is true. But the thing is you have to keep a distance from the mad world of expressions that happen online. And yes, read. Read everything! It helps you grow and broadens your horizon. I read somewhere that if you really want to grow, you must read something you don’t agree with. I would say, start with that.
For my readers: I hope you find time to read my book “Epiphany- tales of revelation”. And I hope I can reach out to you bigger and better, gradually.