This week, we are flying to a Malaysian rainforest in Kuala Lumpur, to visit the popular Sanaa Rizvi, who blogs at A Dash of Sunny. Sanaa is sharing a few photos of the spectacular landscape she is blessed to live in, along with some wonderful poems. She even sings us a song! So draw your chairs in close. Let's dive in.
Sherry: Our last chat with you was in . Would you bring us up to date? I know Pakistan is home, but I understand you moved to Kuala Lumpur since our last chat. How is life there? It looks so beautiful!
Sanaa: It's 2018 and life has brought me to Kuala Lumpur, a place which is known to be a nature lover's paradise. It consists of one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, particularly its rainforests and coral reefs. The country is home to many rare species including tapirs, pangolins, orang-utans, tigers and rhinos.
Life is very different here. It's equable and quiet compared to the fast paced one in Karachi, Pakistan. People here are extremely laid-back and prefer to take on life as it comes. I am currently searching for a job, so at present I am home.
There is so much to see here, Sherry! My favorite place to visit is Cameron Highlands, which lies less than an hour off the main North-South Highway and is a pleasant 3.5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur.
The weather here ranges from 15 to 22 degrees celsius, which proves to be a welcome change, apart from lovely little villages, and visits to butterfly, strawberry, honey bee farms and sprawling tea plantations.
Sherry: It sounds marvelous, and looks so beautiful! Wow.
Sanaa: Another interesting place to see is Batu Caves, which is about 12 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur, in the district of Gombak. The name originates from the river of Sungai Batu, which runs alongside the hill. We arrive at the entrance via a stairway of 272 steps. These limestone caves harbour Hindu temples, where murals of mythic scenes gleam behind stalactites, bats flutter in the shadows, and monkeys prey on tourists. I should know, I had one following me on the rail of the steps!
Sanaa: And of course, Bukit Bintang! Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, it's a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It's thrilling to explore and to feel the excitement in one of the city's busiest stretches, complete with skyscrapers, shopping malls and restaurants.
Sherry: It looks wonderful! So much to see and explore!
I know poetry and literature are in your family background. What do you love about poetry?
Sanaa: Poetry is nothing short of a boon, a gift. It's a medium of expression, of sharing our deepest emotions, and things which we normally don't in conversation. What I love most about poetry is that it uncovers a side of me which I never knew existed. And what's amusing is that I could never write a simple essay in school and college, and yet here I am, learning and evolving amongst fellow poets in the world of poetry.
Sherry: The wonders of online. I appreciate it so much! Do you have a favourite well known or classical poet?
Sanaa: I love Rainer Maria Rilke. His poems, 'Love Song' and 'I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone' mesmerize and stir the soul.
Sherry: Are you pleased with the growth of your work over the last few years? Has blogging impacted that growth?
Sanaa: Yes, of course! It was absolutely terrifying at first as I sought to find my footing back in 2015. I remember posting poems and hoping every time that I got it right. With time I learned that it's all right to make mistakes. We are human and are bound to make errors along the way.
I love trying new forms and remember spending hours working on them online. It helps to have studied Literature in college and university, as memories of my professor teaching us metre and rhyme scheme in class come calling.
I never thought I would write poetry, to be honest, as we only used to study the Old Masters and had no knowledge about Twentieth Century Poets. It was only when I began writing was when I discovered that I still had a lot to learn!
I find that each year my writing becomes different as I slowly learn and transition with love and support of friends.
Sherry: It has been interesting, watching your journey. What is most challenging thing, in your opinion, when it comes to writing poetry?
Sanaa: To me, the most challenging aspect of poetry is knowing how to insert line breaks. A few days ago, a friend and fellow poet taught me its significance and explained its impact on poetry. It's a beautiful way of showing and emphasising emotion.
Sherry: Would you like to share three poems with us, and tell us a little about each?
I wrote this one for Kerry's Camera Flash prompt at Toads and remember the way the picture spoke to me. It’s easy for one to be indifferent, to be cold and unfeeling. The words came on their own, as I sought to figure how I would respond to such a situation. Life is busy and at times complicated. I don't have time for drama, and I don't have a place in my heart for hatred. It hurts, yes, but we must find it within ourselves to forgive and forget. If one wishes to be difficult, then so be it. The best we can do is give them space and move on.
This is one of my favorite poems. I wrote this for Susan's Midweek Motif and remember the emotions at the time that were stirring inside my heart. 'No one does love poems like you,' I have heard this from a lot of people and have been asked where I get the inspiration from. Truth is, behind every love poem there is feeling and a story connected with real life. We ask ourselves what is love? I believe love is caring. It's when you care about knowing someone more than yourself.
How many times have we wished we could go back into the past and shake our former selves to their senses? This poem was written for Karin's prompt where we were asked to write poems as letters at Toads. I remember picturing my younger self and having a heart to heart conversation as I wrote the words. Before I knew it, the poem was complete.
Sherry: Thank you for sharing these wonderful poems, Sanaa. How important is accessibility of meaning, in your opinion? Does one need to work hard to 'solve' a poem?
Sanaa: As a poet, I tend to write a poem by choosing words that portray exactly what I am feeling or thinking at the moment. I believe poetry is similar to art. Just as people have different perspectives upon observing a painting; similarly, when people read a poem they each draw different meaning and have their own unique perspective on it. Does it matter if true meaning is unraveled? Technically, yes. But I feel it's more important if the reader has felt moved after reading my poem.
Sherry: I agree; if a reader feels moved, perhaps it doesn't matter so much if they have or haven't interpreted it exactly. Tell us about your process: Pen and paper, computer, notebooks … how do you write?
Sanaa: I prefer to write down poems on a notebook first, before posting them on my blog online.
Sherry: They say that to see the world with complete honesty, one should look to comedians, artists and poets. What do you think emerges naturally from your work?
Sanaa: Hope. I believe there should always be something to grasp and to look forward to. Even my darker poems tend to end on a positive note.
Sherry: Do you have one poem that you almost did not post due to it being personal? Did you post it after all? If so, please tell us about it.
Sanaa: Indeed, there is Sherry. It was 'Belabouring of Hurt at Twilight.' Sometimes it's overwhelming to look at the past, as we grow older and face various situations in life. I have learned that there is no point in being too harsh upon yourself. The poem speaks about letting go of past woes and became so personal that at a point I almost decided not to post it. Then I realized that what's the point of writing poetry if we aren't allowed to unwind and share feelings from time to time. I am glad I decided to post in the end.
Sanaa: I enjoy listening to music and spending quality time with friends.
Sherry: Your favourite place on the planet?
Sanaa: That would have to be my home town. Smiles.
Sherry: Favourite book?
Sanaa: The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho.
Sherry: Friends, Sanaa has gifted us with a song, sung by her just for us. Enjoy!
Sherry: Thank you for this sweet song, Sanaa. And for a lovely visit. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?
Sanaa: Thank you, everyone, for always being so kind and considerate, and for embracing me as part of the community. Cheers!
Sherry: And thank you for your participation at Poets United! We appreciate you!
Well, my friends, wasn't this a lovely visit? Do come back and see who we speak to next. Who knows? It might be you!