Unseen Veins – Short list – Aryamati Competition for Poetry

“A publisher with a conscience.” That’s the tagline that Fly on the Wall Press, a small, independent publisher out of Manchester goes by. I’ve enjoyed multiple poetry pamphlets they’ve published including “Warriors” by Sundra Lawrence, “History of Forgetfulness” by Shahe Mankerian, and “Aftereffects” by Jiye Lee.

After the summer holidays I was reminded of the Aryamati Poetry Prize, a yearly poetry competition run by Fly on the Wall Press. It seeks poetry pamphlets/ chapbooks up to 30 pages long on the themes of social change and peace. I’d just read “Warriors” the winner from last years competition, and also watched a Srilankan Tamil play of the same theme at the Edinburgh International Festival, Counting and Cracking. It was eye opening, touching, and incredible to performance. Here’s a review and detailed description of Counting and Cracking in the Scotsman.

We’d just returned to Thailand from the summer holidays and I was brimming with inspiration, in particular about the burst of representation of minorities in the arts in general, women, LGBTQ, people of colour, and so on. To be honest, I am less keen on reading male authors when I could read female authors whose point of view I can relate to much more easily. I’m searching for female painters and painters of colour to learn from, to see how they can truthfully represent their worlds as well as the world around them, and performers of colour who have the courage to get up and share their world view on a stage.

This has always been something I aspire to support and belong to. So the topics of skin colour belonging and identity were at the forefront of my mind since I was a teenager if not earlier. What changed though is I’d finally decided to be a part of the process and progress, not only a bystander who either criticizes or applauds others. So I wrote about these topics from a place of simplicity and honesty, which is all that I’m capable of. From where I really come from and where I stand now. Literally and figuratively.

Another trigger for me to write was an incident that Leila discussed with me. She had an interesting and difficult encounter at school regarding her identity. She found herself having to defend herself for saying she is French, for choosing to dye her hair and for her accent. She was “accused” of being “whitewashed,” whatever that could mean in this day and age where all kids her age are watching the same series and videos on Netflix, YouTube and TikTok. I found that quite racist and without any real basis. And this too at an international school by other kids equally multiracial, confused, and questioning identity and belonging in this world.

And as has become the norm for me, my thought process and my writing is most often spurred on by trying to understand my opinions, myself and where I come from enough to help my children understand and navigate their worlds better.

This is the second year that I participate in the Aryamati Poetry competition and I’m excited that this time my pamphlet, “Unseen Veins” is on the shortlist! Some of the poems were written a couple of year ago, others on the one night that I stayed up, somewhat jetlagged and wholly inspired by ideas with the purpose of submitting to this competition.

I am glad I took the chance to submit!

One thought on “Unseen Veins – Short list – Aryamati Competition for Poetry

  1. Dear Natasha, I’ve never understood how to react on your blog directly. What I am reading is so interesting for me! The fact that I know you isn’t the trigger. As I wrote in the text about your art, I associated your poetry and writing to a stream of poetry researches quests questioning in contemporary and modern poetry that a love deeply I am so happy and not surprised that your poetry is in the short list. Please keep sharing with me your works writing and questI am very happy and very proud of you. It is amazing!Bravo Nat!  Lots of loveMireille 

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