Akanksha Agarwal is a multifaceted artist — a poet, dancer, singer, painter, musician and a home maker par excellence. She gleefully embraces the diverse experiences and perspectives of life and pours it out in her creative pursuits spreading an aura of happiness and love.
In her interview with Storiyaan, she talks about her recently launched book ‘The Secret in My Blood’ which is a compilation of her poems. She gives us insight into her meaning of love, her passion for poetry and the classic authors of all time. Read more to know about the new poet!
Questions and answers
Through literary history, we have seen that music and poetry go hand in hand. From your own experience, how explicit have you felt this connection?
I started singing at the age of five. When I went to the hostel, English was the predominant language. I even had home tuitions for music, where my sir taught me singing and to play some musical instruments.
I got into writing there. Initially, it was just long paragraphs and stories but poetry came to me naturally.
Most artists and authors vent out their emotions through their art and their pen. In what way have you exploited this channel through dance and through writing?
I have been married for ten years and I sometimes need an outlet. Dance and music became my companion and I used them to expand my mind and imagine beyond the four walls of my work. When I used to dance and paint, my imagination would broaden and it enabled me to write much better.
What is it about the writings of Courtney Peppernell that you find the most fascinating and similar to your own mindset as an author?
I deeply connect to authors who write on love. When you read a novel, the entire story plays in your imagination, but writing two lines and then putting the illustrations leaves a really strong impact in the minds of the readers. When I wrote, it was spontaneous. I never thought about turning my writings into a book. But when I realized that I had written about a hundred poems, I told myself that I had to give a sum up my writings and give them a platform.
“There is no poetry without love and no love without madness”. What are your views on the same?
I completely agree with it. There are no bars in love. I believe madness is equal to love. In my poems there is madness. Love does not have a definite form. It is abstract, love is madness. I believe that love exists everywhere and that no one can escape from it no matter how hard they try.
To which literary era do you believe your poetry most conforms to and why?
As a modern author, my writings tend to be contemporary. But I’m a fan of the classic poets. Sylvia Plath is another amazing author who I admire. People say “old is gold”, which I believe. Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton Mills, and Boons and every romantic in literary history. Jane Austen is my absolute favorite. I prefer my writings to be explained so that the fruits are out of them.
The content of your book is quite distinct and describes the stages a woman has to go through in her life, depicting girlhood to womanhood – which many of your female readers have found relatable. What would be your message to them?
I think it is the reality of life and reality bites. At every stage of womanhood, you will encounter love. Love can’t vanish. There is love within you. You can try to wrap it in a blanket and be away from it and try to live by the rulebook of the society, but love will find a way back. That is what my book is about and there is no message other than the reality of life. Not just women, it is inherent in every human being, to let go of all inhibitions in love and to spread their wings and fly.
Can you tell us about the illustrations in the book and your contributions towards them?
The credit for the illustrations goes to my friend Sofia from Argentina. I met her on Instagram and she has become my best friend over time. She is one of the best and she has done the illustrations so beautifully and insightfully. I’m thankful to her.
How big a role did your father play in your writing career and what is that one lesson you learnt from him that you would like to pass on to a budding writer?
My father was a very disciplined man and my inspiration. He was a cancer patient and I lost him early in life. He gifted me one of his Parker pens and encouraged me always to write one thing or the other and I used to write one-liners, poems, and anything that came to my mind. Those are some of my fondest memories of him. Even today, I want to outshine and tell my parents that “the Parker pen has worked out for me” and I will make them proud.
Your Instagram bio says that you have “Promised not to live an ordinary life”. Could you share some of the things that you have as well as those that you are yet to tick off on your bucket list?
In my ordinary life, I have been married for ten years, I have two kids, and live in a joint family. But I have always had a passion for music, painting, and writing. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., I invest myself totally in my family. But after 9 p.m., I dance, sing, and write my heart out. I would even go to the storeroom so that my kids cannot hear me. I have a small area that I have made for myself so that I can happily bring out my talents and give wings to my imagination.
Can you give us a sneak-peak into your next book The Burning Syndrome.
Recently I fought with COVID-19, When I was on bed rest, my hands and feet were not working. Because of this syndrome, I named my book ‘The Burning Syndrome’. This book will include poems about love and the syndrome. It will be a book about me and how love has brought me out of the pain I have gone through for six months and given me life again.
What, in your opinion, is the difference between a good poet and a great poet?
As the notions of good and great are very subjective, I cannot answer it meticulously. A particular author might seem ‘good’ to one person for a particular aspect and ‘bad’ to another for the very same aspect, while ‘great’ to a third of the same.
a. Favorite genre of poetry- Classic
b. Favorite author- John Grisham
c. Best platform for the promotion of a book for a new author- Social media like Instagram
d. Greatest regret in one line- Not having studied more after my Masters’
e. Favorites dance form- Classical