Linda Ashok was one of the 25 feature poets at The Hindu Lit for Life 2014 by Prakriti Foundation. In 2015, her manuscript was selected for a workshop with Poet Arthur Sze at the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference, CA, followed by an invitation to the XII POESIA International Encounter, Venezuela.
Linda’s poems have appeared or forthcoming in several online journals including Café Dissensus, Visual Verse, Shot Glass Journal, Poetry Kanto 2014 (Annual Issue), CUNY Murphy Institute Blog, Hark Magazine, The Lake, The Linnet’s Wings, The Thumbprint Magazine, The McNeese Review, Mascara Literary etc. She reviews poetry for The Rumpus and administers the RedLeaf Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts
Highlights of this Episode
- From fireflies to fireworks, journey of a girl in poetry
- On her muse who smells of God
- On writers who inspire her writing
Quotes and takeaways
- “..at home watching my father at his easel or illustrating school books was my major preoccupation”
- “..poetry extracts everything leaving me to my flesh and bones.”
- “I share a great deal of intimacy with my writing.”
- “I enjoy this tension; at a subconscious level I think a poem as such is my lover asking me out to the ocean.”
- “..if a certain piece of writing evolves in an unexpected way. Just hold on to it, feed it, and it’ll surprise you in more than one way.”
“Only Sometimes…. sometimes i am just a blob of guilt on an ice cone melting in despair sometimes I am a pair of trembling hands weaving dusk on your naked body sometimes I am an ocean throwing up my own secrets sometimes I am just a train, bleeding, cutting through the forest only sometimes, I am myself when you put me together as a whole and I go winding the pink clouds with my tongue, eating flavoured glasses, to taste as much…” – Linda ashok
Tell us about your journey so far as a writer.
To be honest, the journey as such has just begun and I’ve miles to go, many failures to meet, many successes to cheer. Otherwise, credit goes to my artist father who facilitated a kind of upbringing that has seen books, books and only books. I remember I was in standard VIII, when my father managed to buy us a TV for the first time. So, there was not much connection or knowledge of the external world apart from what happened through school, meaning homework, creative assignments, extra-curricular and all. And at home watching my father at his easel or illustrating school books was my major preoccupation besides writing, mindlessly, just anything. As a child, I used to write because I thought writing is just a manifestation in ink on paper about how I think, analyse, reason things. Sometimes, writing essays for friends would mean a lot of Magii to my boring Tiffin that came from home. When I was in class 11, I won a State Level Poetry Competition and later, when The Statesman published my first surreal fiction, followed up with several poems, my Professors marked me the odd one out. It’s then when I got serious about writing, but due to my severely taxing night job and day college, writing couldn’t flourish as much I wanted it to, until I completed my graduation, moved to Hyderabad, picked up a better job with more disciplined working hours, that I could realize some time on and off. So, basically by late 2012, I started contributing to some online magazines and amidst a great deal of rejections, some handful of publications got added to my credit. The journey is on like I said. It may sound pompous but writing, particularly poetry is the only kick, only blow that keeps me going.
While composing a poem or prose, what are your sources of inspiration?
How would describe your personal style of writing?
Fiction or poetry, I think I share a great deal of intimacy with my writing. The way I extract subjects from my life, from my surrounding, the same way, poetry extracts everything leaving me to my flesh and bones. Evidently I tend to move away from specificity, take mountain leaps, and unprecedented moves which all make my work a lot ambiguous and surreal. But sometimes, I enjoy this tension; at a subconscious level I think a poem as such is my lover asking me out to the ocean.
Name your favourite writers who in some manner helped you in your writing.
Well, there are plenty of amazing writers who I love to read, particularly in poetry but I do not idolize any. You can call this attitude but I am unsure of what makes a favourite writer, because the parameters of a good writing are never static. They are forever evolving. But if I am still asked to name some who left a lasting impact on my writing self, are Sylvia Plath for sure, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Sina Queryas, Xiaulo Guo, Jonathan Tel, A.K Ramanujan, Rae Armantrout, Robert Hass etc. Their writing talks to me, teaches me, help me grow in my own writing.
As universally accepted, the first impression is the last impression. Do you think an impactful cover of a book can generate more sales?
I am not a sales person, so cannot comment on that. But as a writer and the daughter of an artist, I think the face of a book must be as promising as the content inside. A great cover sets the first impression of the author’s mind and therefore cover-art has become a serious study in many fine-arts colleges.
Is there any message you would like to leave for your readers, fellow writers and poets?
Freud says there are always more than two people when a couple is intimate. I would say there are more than two ideas when a writer is intimate, with writing. So, there’s nothing to feel bad about if a certain piece of writing evolves in an unexpected way. Just hold on to it, feed it, and it’ll surprise you in more than one way.