Sharanya Manivannan’s first book of poems was Witchcraft. She has been a recipient of the Elle Fiction Award and Lavanya Sankaran Fellowship and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry, fiction and essays have been published in numerous journals and anthologies around the world, and she has appeared at readings in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom.
1. You have done readings of your poems at some very interesting places like an abandoned pier, cemetery and the Borobudur Temple. Why did you choose those places?
Well, in the case of the Borobudur Temple, it was a part of a literary festival – the Utan Kayu Biennale, to which I was privileged to be invited to in 2007. As for the pier and the cemetery – both of those happened the following year for a specific reason. I had moved back to Chennai and found a serious lack of supportive spaces, by which I mean non-intimidating venues like cafes that encouraged amateurs, dabblers and emerging artistes. My response was to use public spaces instead. It was an interesting experiment, and I continue to be open to offbeat spaces.
2. Where and how do you draw your inspirations for the diverse subjects on which you write?
This idea of “seeking inspiration” doesn’t work for me. I seek other things: experiences, encounters, epiphanies. These in turn inspire me to write. I am an obsessive sort of person, and once I become interested in something not only do I conduct a lot of research, but I have also found that connections will light up – I will suddenly see a motif or metaphor everywhere, as though a sort of fractal repetition on the landscape of my life.
3. Who is your favorite poet and why?
Difficult, and possibly meaningless, question. When I was younger there were specific writers whose works I gorged on, but of late it is individual poems that I keep returning to.
4. How was your experience in writing column for The Indian Express?
I really enjoyed writing “The Venus Flytrap”, which ran for three years in The New Indian Express. Multiverse, the page of personal columns, that appeared in the Saturday Zeitgeist supplement, was unlike any other. I was truly fortunate to have such a space to indulge my own observations.
5. Being brought up Sri Lanka and Malaysia, what is the one thing you like and dislike about India in comparison to Srilanka and Malaysia?
I haven’t spent time in Sri Lanka as an adult, so anything I say about would be deluded by nostalgia and memory. I can say, however, that I miss the Sri Lankan Tamil dialect, which is kinder and more melodious than Madras Tamil. And I miss Malaysian food very, very much.
6. Who are the contemporary authors and writers that have grabbed your attention?
It’s a long, long list! I think we have so much to be excited about in the literary world today.
7. What is the one thing you love about writing, which you’d like to share with our readers of doodleblue?
I love looking forward to writing when I have given myself time off. I love re-entering it, the way one crawls under familiar bedcovers. I love not being able to hear the music I am listening to (I always listen to music when I write) because I am too immersed in the words. I love being finished with a piece, and turning lines from it over in my mind for days after. And I love reading.
She can be found online at www.sharanyamanivannan.com