Tell everybody a little about yourself
Hi, I am Leela, a poet and novelist living in a leafy suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. After doing my thirty years as Principal Teacher, I at last found time to read and write, the two passions that I wanted to indulge in. I am also one of the founders of the small Bearsden Writers Group.
Was your creativity affected in any way during the lockdown? Did being lockdown make you feel inspired or deflated?
It took a couple of weeks to adjust to the lockdown. Then I settled down to a routine of trying to write a poem in the morning, then a long walk and feel I could enjoy the rest of the day doing what I wanted. Unfortunately, I did my knee in a few weeks ago, so I am rather frustrated and missing our walks in the woods. I swing between feeling creative and feeling low wondering when we would come out of this pandemic times.
Was it therapeutic doing creative work during lockdown?
Yes, I did find it therapeutic especially if a poem flowed easily. Images that often floated in my consciousness seem to reach the fingertips.
How did you occupy your time?
Cleaning cupboards, books, clothes for charity, listening to music, zooming with family and friends and reading books that I had always wanted to and contributing to various poetry magazines that wanted a record of the extraordinary times we are going through.
What was the main thinking behind your poem submitted to Together Behind Four Walls?
I wanted to write verses that had a deep meaning of the powerlessness and loneliness of these times. Helping a charity for front line workers especially as BAME people are affected the most made me want to contribute in a small way with words. I thank you for inviting me to contribute to this anthology.
What inspires most of your poems?
That’s hard to write down. Sometimes it is a photo, a painting, a phrase that I read or heard. Once it was glancing out of the window when I was at a stop sign in the car. Having been born in India I find the old Vedas and legends are such a rich source for a poet. Also, I’m keen on the connections between India and Scotland that have been airbrushed out of history and I want to record that in either in poetry or prose.
Do you have any favourite poems, from all the poems you have written?
The poems that flow easily, written from the heart tend to be my favourites. Sometimes the feedback from readers makes it all so worthwhile.
Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote or one of the first?
My first poems were for raising money for Breast Cancer, just after I retired from teaching. They were not the best but they did raise a small amount for a worthwhile cause and one of them was made into a postcard that still evokes a good response from readers.
Do you ever think of poems before going to sleep or just after waking up?
It must be in my subconscious, sometimes I wake up and scribble ideas on a piece of paper then type the full poem on the computer. So more on waking up than at night!
Do you handwrite poems or go directly on to your computer?
Notes on paper and the drafts on a computer and edited several times after.
Do you ever give up on poems you have started?
Some just don’t work out as you had imagined. It is in a folder so a line or phrase could be used later in some other poem.
Do you do any other creative activities?
I wish I had a long list of them but no. But I do appreciate art and classical Indian music.
Do you only focus on poetry or do you also write prose?
I have two novels published and a few short stories too. I like doing both. A third novel has been completed.
Do your poems ever have strong messages?
Not all of them. Some deal with injustice, the plight of refugees, or colonialism as I believe it is still not a post-colonial world as some people think we’ve achieved it.
If you had to write a poem about yourself, how would it start?
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