I was introduced to Amita by New Brunswick poet, Richard Doiron, who suggested Amita would be an ideal fit for a Scribbler visit and a Branching Out Interview. I couldn’t agree more. Amita has kindly agreed to be our featured guest this week.
What I visited Amita’s website, I was greeted by the following:
Ordinary day, extraordinary possibilities. Reflections, Poetry, Musings and more.
It is a warm and friendly greeting and we are happy to have Amita share her thoughts and her writing.
Let’s chat with Amita.
Allan: Welcome to the Scribbler, Amita. Before we chat about writing and related topics, please tell our readers about you & family, where you were born, where you reside and home life.
Amita: Thanks Allan, for this wonderful opportunity of the interview. I am born and raised in Mumbai, India, and reside in Oman since the past 17 years. I live in Muscat with my daughter, and we are a single parent family of mother and daughter. I live on campus, and teach at Sultan Qaboos University.
Allan: You have an impressive body of work, featured in various publications and participated in numerous events. Congratulations on your many successes. Is there one such accomplishment you value the most?
Amita: I most treasure Diego giving me the title, ‘Maple Leaf’ on my poem ‘Mapled Me’ that I read on the show. That poem I treasure a lot, and is my favourite, as time and again, it seems to be most popular; it gave me the title ‘Maple Leaf’ from such a notable, remarkable veteran poet Diego Bastiannutti, that for me it is the greatest motivation ever, that too on Live Radio of Vancouver, home to British Columbia University. The poem got selected in an anthology published in the UK ‘‘Daffodils’’ where I was chosen as the Featured Poet! And last but not the least, Jeannette Skirvin, well known Canadian novelist, so beautifully made a video poem ‘Mapled Me’ that it has had almost 400 views, and counting.
Allan: Your website tells us of upcoming publications. Can you tell our readers what to expect and when it is all taking place?
Amita: I have several poems coming in anthologies; and single poems in journals. But what’s exciting is by December 2021, I am publishing my second book of poetry, “Astad Deboo: Poetry in Dance”. This is ekphrasis written on watching his dance. He is India’s most cherished Contemporary Dancer awarded the highest civilian awards including the PADMASHRI.
I also have three more books of poetry coming in 2022 and 2023, three of them on three photographers in Oman and Italy, and their work which inspired the poetry and one on a famous painter, but I have not yet given them titles.
Allan: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.
Amita: I knew since grade 7 that I only wanted to study poetry! Our school principal once walked into the class and taught us “Daffodils” by Wordsworth. The moment she recited it, the impression was so deep in my mind, that I returned home and asked my mother if I had to study only poetry what should I do? She said, Masters in English Literature. I pursued just that! I have MA, M.Phil., B. Ed from Mumbai, and one more MA from UK. I waited to see real daffodils till I was 29! It was after 16 years, I joined University of Lancaster and finally visited the very spot, the Dove cottage, and saw 10,000 at a glance!
Somehow, that journey, from the classroom of grade 7 to the Lancaster classroom of Poetry taught by Professor Emeritus Mick Short, is a conspiracy of the Universe! Time and again, it has been a very unique experience when it comes to poetry- I have had several experiences of coincidences, serendipity, opening of doors most miraculously- but will elaborate on them some other time!
Allan: You were honoured by World Poetry Canada as poetry Ambassador to Oman. Can you tell us about this?
Amita: In my journey as a poet, my most memorable moment is when Ariadne Sawyer responded to my poetry submission online, and went on to include my poetry in her website, this was the best thing that happened to me in 2018. Then, I did my radio show with Ariadne Sawyer, and Diego Bastianutti at World Café Poetry. I am indebted and a great admirer of both these great poets and personalities of Vancouver, and see them as my role models. The radio shows were a wonderful opportunity to talk about myself, how my poetry evolved from my life experiences.
Allan: Who has been a major influence in your writing? Do you have a mentor? Favorite writers or poets?
Amita: I think I followed my own Voice. Poetry that was simple always appealed to me, reached the core of my heart, spoke to me. I especially loved reading Maya Angelou, and definitely regard her as one of the best. As a mentor, I feel the long years of work of Ariadne Sawyer are very inspiring to a younger poet like me, and give my love for poetry a concrete example of how the sense of purpose and the varied possibilities are available, as I see her in her multiple roles as a poet and so much more! She has taken poetry to an all-new level, and her entire lifetime is about encouraging, bringing together and promoting poets. What’s absolutely astonishing and very pleasantly so, is how she has a new feather in her cap now, with poetry of Youth!
Before you bat an eyelid, Ariadne has an all-new role and a concept and she is off with all her love and light, pursuing it. This gives me direction, and purpose to what I should set out to do more, and how.
Ariadne Sawyer will always remain my role model, my inspiration to work harder and with dedication and also my mentor; so, will Richard Doiron remain a great role model and inspiration. His interview on your blog and his poet laureate speech are something I re-visit many times. If there is someone who ought to be awarded a PhD on their volume of body of work of prolific poetry, it is Richard Doiron. In fact, I discovered your blog while I was searching his works on Google.
**I’m glad you did, Amita. Richard is a fine gentleman.
Among older poets, Rumi, Robert Frost and William Wordsworth, and William Blake are my favourites, and among Indian poets, there are far too many in Hindi/Urdu/English/Bengali language, like Gulzar, Rabindranath Tagore, Jerry Pinto, Sudeep Sen, Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca, Naomi Shihab Hye, Ashok Bhargava, and yes, my all-new favourite, Zayra Yves, to name just a few. Ah, and Richard’s poetry comes back to my mind time and again, what more can I say!
Allan: You have recently been involved with the release of Impressions & Expressions. An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry. Can you tell us about this?
Amita: I used to read poetry online and like them a lot, and found that if I had wanted to read again, I had to go to each poet’s Facebook and scroll and hunt for the one I liked, and re read it.
Over a year, I found this really a huge hassle, and then decided, well what do I want? I want all my favourite poems from several poets put in a single book, that I can reach out and read as and when I like. So actually Allan, I made that anthology just for myself! And then come to think of it, readers and poetry lovers would certainly want to read more than one poem of a poet. I always feel as a student of Stylistics, that it is always desirable to be able to read at least 6 to 8 poems from a single poet in order to know and understand their style, their philosophy and their uniqueness.
Thus, this collection boasts of twenty-four very contemporary poetry ranging from YouTube and Instagram mentions to ‘I can’t breathe’ and post pandemic and during pandemic afternoons spent at the kitchen window. Each poem contributes a distinct flavor to the book by being ‘different’ from the poetry of the other poets in the collection. I also repeatedly read the 150 poems and struggled to give a title to the collection that initially I had called, ‘Power of Poetry’. I meditated deeper into what is poetry, and what makes poetry be born, and the ideal one I came upon after careful deliberation was that poetry is the Expression of the impressions of life each poet carries in having met and lived their life experiences; so, I felt there could not be a more apt title than IMPRESSIONS AND EXPRESSIONS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY.
By the time the edition was ready, I was madly in love with some of the poetry and have decided that in the lockdown, it was the best gift I have given myself!
Allan: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Amita: Yes, just a note on why poetry is an Art we ought to bring back in this digital age, with a whole new enthusiasm especially post pandemic. I feel people will have undergone a whole gamut of emotions and been overwhelmed, and poetry will play a vital role in being able to open up very complex emotions and suppressed feelings. Poetry will prove therapeutic to readers who will find their emotions resonate with the poet’s and also cathartic to those who write it. I would like to end with this note:
The function and purpose of poetry is about life here and now; of our universally faced common experiences as human beings, our IMPRESSIONS, expressed in a succinct and imaginative way in poetry. Poetry is the only form of Art that resonates and retells each and every human experience musically, imaginatively, metaphorically, visually, emotively, explicitly, implicitly and aesthetically!
Writings of Amita Sanghavi.
Amita's Blog - https://amitasanghavispoetry.
AmitaSanghvi Amazon Publications
A book review in Oman’s national daily: