Pooja Nansi is better known as an angry Indian poet but it’s not wrath, in the real sense of it, that makes her thick. She’s the first ever Youth Poet Ambassador in Singapore. Do you wonder why?
Pooja Nansi (Image via Jacket 2)
Nansi moved from Gujarat, India to Singapore with her parents before she clocked 2 years old, but has waxed big, strong, and influential in both local and regional poetry arenas. She has made remarkable contributions through her roles in “Poet x Poet” Series, an event held at Booksactually and the GoGreen Poetry Slam at Kuala Lumpur, and conducted several workshops in some UK-based educational institutes.
The famous poet also partners with Anjana Srinivasan for a song and spoken word collaboration titled Mango Dollies.
Nansi is best known for her first collection titled Stiletto Scars which was published in 2007 during the Singapore Writers Festival. Her compendium of poems was divided into five categories with each headword starting with an “H”: “Heart,” “Head,” “Homes,” “Heels and Hips,” and “Hurt and Hope.”
Under “Heart” she expressed the persona of a self-conscious, possessive, and jealous modern day woman, who easily portrays herself as a responsible educator, and at other times, a fashion-conscious nightclub vixen.
For instance, in the poem “Judas Shoes,” she slipped from a broken heel in a club while a group of boys watched, then she told them quietly that she’s a teacher to students in their age bracket.
How it is that I am scared enough of losing you
that I want to break your fingers
when I am holding your hand
just so you will
whose you are. (“jealousy”)
- Pooja Nansi
In her numerous artistic works, the Indian poet portrayed life in Singapore as “luxe” but somewhat “chaotic” and “unbalanced.” One of her poetic rants was on the country’s multi-faceted racial background, and the state’s social policies such as the Mother Tongue policy and political campaigns for an increased birth rate.
Nansi bemoaned the fact that tastes are taught in Singapore, but commended the peace and unity enjoyed by residents. In her words, the ‘lines of segregation’ are thin behind the country’s united front. She considers herself a member of the minority immigrants.
However, Nansi has forged a niche for her choice of art; her poetry has an inclination for self-discovery, love, and social identity, which focuses more on contemporary feminism. She enjoys the use of Japanese forms of the senryū and the haiku, and mostly writes in free verses.
She has been a critic of the Singaporean education system. In some of her poems titled Frustrated Senryu, A Teacher’s Time-table, Teach less; Learn more, Mute ‘Gifted’ Kids, among others, the 35-year-old poet expressed her views of ‘Singaporean identity.’
Image shows Nansi at a public event (Source: The Long Winding Road)
According to Mayo Martin of Channel News Asia, Nansi is a huge fan of Britney Spears. She admits drawing some inspiration from the “Baby One More Time” singer.
Talking with CNA about her love for the singer, she said: ‘I wish I could lie that I always read Neruda as a kid but that’d be wrong. I often watched Britney’s live performances.
‘”Everytime” is my favorite from her list of songs, and I’m happy because its the first song she ever wrote by herself. In some ways, the song fascinates and inspires me…And then I was consumed by the Internet blackhole.’
Nansi, who was crowned The Young Artist Award 2016, has held several workshops for kids, trying to connect with young people who have little or no access to literary education.
Image shows Nansi at a workshop (Source: Flicker)
She said: ‘I like listening to young people and interacting with them to understand the troubles they face in their lives. What often comes to my mind is what kind of poems I can offer to help them.
‘I love introducing them to the act of writing; even if it’s through a story on social media, or a private post for their eyes only.’
Nansi added, ‘Everyone deserves some poetry. I want them to understand poetry like having a Spotify playlist you can shuffle for peace and joy whenever you’re lonely or upset.’