During the month of May 2016 we will be looking back at Poets’ Corner’s first year, together with our Guest Poetry Curators. They will share their own poetry, experiences as curator and favourite poems from the platform with you.
In December 2015 Guest Poetry Curator Ciarán Hodgers introduced Seema Jayaraman as Poet of the Month. Some months later, Seema reflects on her experience:
Submitting my work
‘I stumbled over an online advertisement in November 2015 from UK based Leaveners’ Poet’s Corner on an online blog seeking submissions from aspiring Poets/ Poetess offering to showcase the chosen Poet and their poems for an entire month in December 2015 with no restrictions on nationality. It took a great deal of courage to draft my letter to the manager giving my background and explaining the trigger to my poetry writing. Here I was the accidental aspiring poet, not sure the stuff I wrote could be termed Poetry let alone worthy of submission to an international organization. I was on the verge of a paradigm shift, a complete turn from my regular role of a working Mom balancing technology work, home, kids, EMI’s and Mumbai traffic commute demands to donning the cape of a dreamy poetess, suspended in time contemplating the varied colors of life with the gentle passage of time!!!! No the two roles did not meet not even by doing a backward bend in my mind.
I was hardly the type to embark on Poetry in middle life when I was struggling for time and space to fulfill my primary responsibilities. I seemed to be able to write only on strong visual and emotional cue’s and most of the time I felt I was on auto-writing. I thought I was the pen for an universal being channeling poetry through me. I really did not fit the typical Indian image of a poetess, no strong personal tantrums, no strong opinions about anything political except when it touched upon small kids, no strong statements, no hanging bags loaded with books ( I used to be known as a book worm eating, sleeping and even bathing with books but that again was decades ago in my school and college), just a regular person starved of nature and nature’s way of life. Perhaps this is a classic sign of mid-life crisis and my way of finding alternative channels to express creativity and free choice suppressed and straitjacketed for so long.
And here I was in mid-November I found myself setting aside my fears and sending out my submission to Leaveners Poets Corner along with a selection of my best poems in accordance to the guidelines laid out by the advertisement. I kept see-sawing between hope and despair, would they even check my mail, would they even read through, would they like even one of them, there were so many doubts dancing about. I was waking and walking on nails wondering and wishing for a response.’
Selected as Poet of the Month
‘A week later, while scrolling through my emails, to my surprise, I found a mail from Leaveners. Nervously I opened the mail steeling myself to accept a negative response. However to my shock and utter disbelief I received an encouraging response from a very proactive project manager Ms. Jorine Beck seeking additional details. I began to pray and maybe hope a little, keeping my fingers crossed that their guest curator Mr. Ciaran Hodgers would bestow his blessings on my attempts at scribbling poetry. Another week went by and I received a mail conveying they actually liked my poem and wanted me to confirm and send my consent for publishing my poems on their site. I whooped and danced all the way from my office to home waving the mail on my cell to my friends and folks. The endorsement from a highly acclaimed poet and a recitation specialist was heady to say the least. The past few months of scribble in jostling autos and late night at home neglecting homework and kids at times was worth something after all.
I shared the happy tidings across all forums that I was a member of Twitter, Facebook, Poemhunter, Emails to folks, waving it under every nose I came across especially my husband’s with glee in my eyes and a smug lift to my walk. This was an original seal of approval and endorsement from across the continents and from the mother land of English for a person residing in alien shores and whose mother tongue was not even English. Though in all honesty from the time I started to speak, English is almost a first language for us especially given I started my education at the age of 2 in a Montessori school. I had also aced my TOEFL but again many years ago and have forgotten most of those quirky words.’
Sharing my work on the platform
‘My experience through out December 2015 was that of a high, coming across announcements made by Leavener’s Poet’s Corner about my poems every third day on Twitter, finding positive and encouraging responses from visitors to their site for several of my submissions. I dreaded the passing of December 2015, wanted to hold and tie the glory forever. The entire experience was a highly educative and very positive. My poems were posted with Poet’s Corner team working to hunt and add the perfect color pictures to the background making the poems more reflective and attractive to visitors. My popularity and number of followers on Twitter and online grew with each posting.’
‘I was encouraged by Ciaran and Jorine, well actually strongly encouraged through several email communications to submit a few audio or video recitations which again was a first for me. I was very hesitant, again with hardly any time for fancy recordings, I ended up performing a couple of recitations recorded on my home tab in my bedroom. I was greatly helped in my recording sequences by my elder son Rajjath all of 8 years and an expert with gizmos. I recited two of my best poems A Father’s Grief and Why Blame Me A Blood Moon and sent them feeling unsure and silly about the quality and the recording itself. Once again Leaveners team were kind enough to accept my home video uploaded on youtube and set the link up on their site.
They were even kind enough to accede to my request and uploaded my young Niece Rhea’s (aged ten and based out of New Jersey and the only one showing poetic genes in the family besides me) recording of my poem Parrots.’
Publishing my first poetry book
‘Again the Poet’s Corner team greatly encouraged me to consider publishing my collection of poems in a book form. They shared with me names and links to several Indian and a few international publishers. Each day was a step leading to higher and greater achievement, each day was a day for new discovery with the light being shone by Poet’s Corner team. With the positive feedback I was receiving through Poet’s Corner, I started considering the compilation of a book as a very real possibility. My first book of poems an anthology of my selected poems is in final stages and is with a local publisher, due for launch by end of March 2015. I have chosen a low key launch due to various personal constraints however the ebook version will be available online at popular sites. I used to sketch and paint during my teens, again a lost skill. However after observing the strong emotive connection that visual background and poems together evoke on Poet’s Corner site, and after meeting several highly skilled artists across the globe from UK to Australia who combine both mediums to create exceptional beauty, I too have started to work on my sketching skills. This has been a huge eye opener and positive outcome from my association with Poet’s Corner.’
‘The month of December flew by, I was very sad the last week, not cause an entire year was coming to an end, but my new found recognition from an interactive and supportive family was coming to an end. However to my delight, our bonding continues to grow stronger. In January once again Jorine informed me some of my poems would be exhibited on location at a popular literary cafe called PCafe at Stirchley, Brimingham. Once again I was walking on air with excitement. My poem Why Blame Me A Blood Moon was exhibited in February 2016 at P Cafe, a matter of great pride for me and my well wishers.
I have the courage to share and submit my poems for various anthology publications. In March 2016, for two weeks in a row, the same readings of both my poems were chosen by yet another UK based group 365Scribble and broadcasted on Audioboom in a one hour show along with a host of other international poets. All the while I get to immerse myself in some great poems increasing my understanding of the range of expressions that a poem allows.
As I spread my wings and fly higher, I carry the confidence instilled by the original seal of approval from my launching pad – Leaveners Poet’s Corner and their team. Thank you Leavener’s for taking this fledgling under your wings and allowing me to grow my feathers for a life long flight in the literary world. I sincerely hope I will continue and build on the momentum provided by you.’
Read Seema’s poetry