Sherry: Sanaa, thank you for allowing us this visit. Paint us a picture of your life today, won't you?
The Story of 50 Years
Sanaa: It's 2015, my life has taken me to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. At present, I am working in British council as an invigilator. I am called upon once a week to invigilate for IELTS examinations. The session of May – June will bring CIE examinations. So excited and pumped up to attend invigilation on a daily basis. But of course it will not affect my poetry, which is my first priority. (Smiles)
Sherry: Wow, that sounds like a cool and unusual occupation. How interesting! Now let's flash back to your childhood. Where did you grow up, Sanaa?
Sanaa: Born and brought up in Karachi, Pakistan, I bloomed into a fiery and independent soul. As a child I was told to have a wild imagination which I would satiate in the world of books. I read my first novel at the age of ten. It was a thrilling experience. I would stay up past my bedtime and finish reading until the last page. The suspense would keep me rooted to the spot.
As the time came to enroll in high school, I was super nervous and excited. Little did I know that the journey ahead wouldn’t be half as pleasant as it seemed. When we enter into our teenage years, we are at the stage of growing up into the person we would like to see ourselves grow up to be.
And trust me, I was not going to allow anything to run amuck. At the mere age of fourteen, I was exposed to bullying. The reason being that I was different than the rest of the crowd. But instead of cowering down; I faced them head on without a trace of doubt in my soul. Courage is not the absence of fear; rather it’s the ability to move beyond it.
Sherry: True words, Sanaa. I am glad you stood up to the bullies. People who stand out from the herd are usually people who do amazingly well in their lives. Unlike many of the bullies.
Sanaa: It feels like a million years ago, but the memory still runs a chill up my spine. To have risen up from that era and grown up to become a fine individual is one of my greatest achievements in life. Putting that behind me, I dived into the world of Literature.
In college, the love and admiration of a female professor led me to study the subject. Literature, to which I was foreign, allowed me to express myself in ways I would have never imagined before. Hence I graduated in English Literature.
Sherry: A wonderful accomplishment, Sanaa. What came next, after graduation?
Sanaa: After graduating I just couldn't find a suitable job in my field. I spent four months in severe depression. It felt like life had come to a standstill. Then my family suggested that I apply for a job in an airline called air blue. Aviation is my father's career path who used to be a pilot in his youth. Later on as an air traffic controller and at present as an instructor in GACA academy.
And so I got a job in air blue as a flight dispatch assistant. For a year I would be seen coordinating with different departments at the airport on phone, while sitting at my desk while simultaneously entering data on the computer. And if that wasn't hectic enough - radio transmissions to pilots who needed to know the weather conditions before landing.
But let me tell you, Sherry, it was absolutely thrilling..! After a year, I got promoted to an analyst and started compiling reports for all the sectors of the airline.
But life changed its course and I had to move to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I am situated at present.
Sherry: Oh, that does sound like an exciting job! Now, I am wondering, is there something in your childhood that you feel contributed to your becoming a poet?
Sanaa: According to my mother, poetry ran far and wide in her family bloodline. Her father held a great interest in writing romantic poetry, whereas her mother’s paternal uncle, (my great grandfather), was a renowned poet whose work is taught in universities even in these times. So it is safe to state that poetry was in my blood.
Sherry: Wow, that is impressive! Who are your favorite poets and is there a most favorite among them?
Sanaa: My favorite poets are the Old Poets. Namely John Keats, as I resonate a great deal with his writing technique. His theory of "Negative Capability" really intrigues me; to the point that I sometimes like to incorporate it into my writing style. He is truly an inspiring Poet. (Smiles)
Sanaa: This poem is very close to my heart, as it is one of the earliest of my writings. It was composed back when I hadn’t even realized that I could write poetry. The poem speaks volumes about my fiery passionate nature. While composing this poem, I closed my eyes; letting my mind wander to how I would respond to a person if we were in love.
Sherry: It is an intriguing poem, Sanaa. When I first started reading your poems, they were written in the language of the Old Masters, as is the above poem. More recently, they seem to be written more in your young woman's voice. Can you talk a bit about that?
Sanaa: Well let’s see, initially my poems would include archaic language but gradually my writing style changed as I joined other Poets in Poets United. Sometimes a specific theme requires a specific approach. The language changes accordingly. Nevertheless, I enjoy composing in both styles i.e. modern and archaic.
Sherry: Yes, I can see that. I love how the Old Masters flavor your work. You have an unusual and intriguing voice. When did you write your first poem?
Sanaa: I guess my first poem was at the age of 18, when I used to scribble poems in my notebook, short poems mostly. But back then the fire did not have a spark as it does now at present. The credit goes to my friends. They encourage me to write; even though they don’t really understand my poems, they are supportive nonetheless.
Sherry: When did you begin blogging, and what has the impact been on your work?
Sanaa: I came upon blogging around three months ago when my sister, a fellow blogger, suggested that I give my poems a platform. And so the journey began. As I mentioned earlier, Poets United changed my life. Sharing my poems with them each week on Mid-week Motif had me soaring high up in the clouds. (Smiles)
Sherry: It was the same for me when I found Poets United. It was the first poetry site I stumbled upon, and it opened the doors of the world to me. It is such a supportive atmosphere, in which poems can flourish. Let's look at another of your poems, may we?
Sherry: It sounds like fun to me!
Sanaa: (Giggles) This is one of my most creative poems. I remember composing it late at night while watching my favorite movie and nibbling on popcorn.
Sherry: What other things do you enjoy doing, when you are not writing poems?
Sanaa: Oh Sherry, I am so glad you asked! Besides composing poems; would you believe it? I love to sing!
I spend my free time, which is usually after dinner, singing along to my favorite songs. I have been singing since the age of twelve.
Sherry: How wonderful! You look and sound so sweet! Thank you so much for this! I used to sing, too, many moons ago. Great joy. So, do you have a favorite place?
Hawkes Bay Beach in Karachi
Photo credits: www.groupin.pk
Sanaa: My favorite place in Karachi, Pakistan is none other than Hawkes Bay Beach. It is situated 20 km south west of Karachi. It is accessible through Mauripur Road (formerly Hawkes Bay Road) or the Mubarak Goth Road from Karachi. The beach is named after Bladen Wilmer Hawke, later 9th Baron Hawke of Towton, who had a beach house there in the 1930's. He used it for the weekends and other of his contemporaries joined him building houses.
It’s a famous tourist resort. It is a sandy beach with crystal blue water. I remember visiting there in 2009 with my relatives on a picnic (smiles). We had rented a hut there for an entire day and went home the next day. It was wonderful, the sun, sand and sea, plus the pleasurable company of your loved ones. What more could anyone wish for?
Sherry: You look so happy there, Sanaa. So tell us, what hopes and dreams do you have for your writing in the years ahead?
Sanaa: Well, in the years to come ahead, I hope to publish a book of my poems for all those people out there who have a love for composing poems and are afraid to come out in the open. Perhaps my book would encourage them to explore their talent.
Alas! When we follow our dreams;
Alas! When we follow our dreams;
Sherry: I am sure you will write many books! Online self-publishing venues make this so much easier now than it used to be. Do you have any words for the members of Poets United?
Sanaa: I would like to thank Poets United for embracing me and letting me be a part of their wonderful community. It feels like a home to me as I frolic in the realms of poetry along with my family – the poets.
Sherry: You are most welcome. I know I speak for our members when I say we are very much enjoying your enthusiastic presence. Smiles.
Well, my friends, wasn't this a delightful visit? The vibrancy of youth - a breath of fresh air! Do come back and see who we talk to next! Who knows? It might be you!