Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Poets on their Pamphlets: Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi on her process, inspiration and poems

There's just a few days to go in our open call for poetry pamphlet submissions (deadline: 31st August – this Sunday!), so I've asked some of our existing pamphlet poets to share their pamphlet-related experiences on this blog. We've already posted an interview with Australian poet Kristen Roberts, where she talks about assembling her pamphlet submission to the Picks this time last year, and now we're going to hear about the beginnings of one of our first full-length pamphlets.

Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi
Ikhda, by Ikhda is the debut pamphlet of Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi, a very new Indonesian poet whose writing first came onto our radar when she submitted some poems to our Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse. Her pamphlet is utterly charming, and we're delighted that it's had such great reviews. Sabotage Reviews observed 'Ikhda herself has conjured a fantastic tree of poetry, branching out and blooming on the strength of her conviction as a writer of innovation and sentiment', while the Cadaverine described it as 'a navigation of birth, love, sex and motherhood, and the ways that these cycles entwine and shape our relationships.' And now, here is Ikhda in her own words:
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My background

I was born in Surabaya, Indonesia. I lived in Paris for two years and now I'm living in Naples until September, before moving to Nantes. It was my father, a dancer, who first told me that I had a poetic voice to share with other people. It all started when he found out that I kept skipping my dance classes to run to the bookstore and read anything there.

He wrote a short-childish poem for me to read at the bachelor party of my big sister (also a dancer) when I was five years old. I still remember the poem:

Thank God, I am not a duck, by my father 
Thank God
You have created me as a human
Not a duck
That goes anywhere by its kwak kwak kwak
Thank God
You have created me as a human
Who is able to talk, walk and laugh
I am not a duck
Who goes anywhere by its kwak kwak kwak
Following other ducks and kwak kwak kwak
Thank God I am not like a duck
Kwak Kwak Kwak and Kwak
I don't know what was on his mind, but it sounds like an encouragement for me? From that moment on I began to fall in love with poetry and now I always write what I want. I take examples of multiculturalism, wrap them in narrative poems, and share them with readers.

The poems

Ikhda, by Ikhda

My inspiration for writing comes from people on the streets, my son, good essays about society and culture, and whatever I feel and see.

For a long long time I kept my poems in my closet. I was afraid of judgement, misunderstanding, and what I could contribute to the world of poetry. It wasn't a problem of confidence, but more the question of essences – how to capture my world of perceptions, ideas, feelings. The world that I love.

It took six to eight months for me to write my full-length pamphlet, and alongside it came music, baby diapers, wine, seas and conversations. If someday you find my pamphlet and read my poems, whether you adore or dislike them I hope you liberate yourself from the conclusion. Poetry is a process, and the ideas in a poem can be destroyed by the reader's state of mind, set before they read. If you free yourself from that, the poems will free you more. Welcome to the world of poetry, the world that I love, the world that energizes me.

The title

Emma and I talked a lot about the title of my pamphlet, which Emma suggested. 'Ikhda, by Ikhdawas not the title that I proposed in my original submission, and I thought it might be too much. I mean, who the heck is Ikhda? I didn't feel ready to put my name in the title of my book, for readers in Great Britain and around the world. It was so controversial and funny. But finally I accepted the title because I thought, this is my book and we live in an era where voices are more important than speakers, so why not?

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You can read more about Ikhda, by Ikhda and buy it for £6.50 (paperback) or £4.25 (ebook) on the Emma Press website. You can find Ikhda on Twitter @ikhdadegoul and contact her on ikhdaayu [at] gmail [dot] com - she would love to hear from readers, poets and critics!

We recently looked at 'Lys', a poem from Ikhda, by Ikhda, in Poem Club – read more here.

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