The first time i met Ekta Somera was on the Twitterer [as @madeinpoetry]. The second time was in a mall in the Chatsworth Centre Mall after she had just been finished being interviewed for Sunrise FM radio.
Ekta very wisely brought her dad with her [cos you never know with meeting strange old white men who you connected to on the internet]… and i brought my mate Dreadlock Mike [cos you never know with meeting strange young poets who you connected to on the internet] although he was mostly there as my driver. And i very happily bought a copy of her recently released poetry book, titled Made in Poetry.
Made in Poetry is a collection of poetry and prose, divided into two parts ‘the destruction’ and ‘the renaissance’ ranging from a dark phase to a brighter one, each with an array of poignant imagery, metaphors and vignettes, evoking a journey of self-love and misadventure by elaborating the essence of life and memories.
i had really enjoyed her poetry online and now i had a chance to take some of it home to appreciate at my own pace and in my own space.
Ekta Somera is a 22 year old South African youth activist and ambassador, criminology student, poet, writer, radio personality, author of Made in Poetry and the founder of Paper Trail Literary Journal. She was recently nominated and selected as one of the Top 50 world most influential young leaders, powered by the Worldwide Leaders Association, The American International Education Federation and TIA International.
i asked Ekta to share some thoughts about her poems and her journey:
From a young age, I have not been as others were, I have not seen as others saw. There is something that draws me to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, his poem titled “Alone” resonates with my entire being.
I grew up picking sides and choosing which parent to spend time with, moving from home to home and losing pieces of myself along the way. However, I never want to be defined by the place I come from or the person I used to be, for who we are is far more important than what we appear to be. I think it is the mark of every warrior to have scars that remind us of the battles we faced, and my book is reminiscent of this journey and experience.
As a child, I decided to change the world, back then I imagined a future better than the one we were all conformed to live in. As the years passed, I realised that would take more than planting trees.
At school I was bullied for being a few shades darker than the desirable complexion, to this day it still baffles me how children are taught to compare people by the colour of skin we were created to live in. Individually, we each have strengths and weaknesses. I believe this is to balance some scale in the universe, like the symbolism of yin and yang. Words have always been my forte, while my inability to solve math equations led to my friends saying that I would never amount to anything.
During adolescence, my circle became a simple dot. I spent a lot of time alone without feeling lonely, my mind became great company as I began to observe people and things, creating my own understanding of what did not seem to make sense. It was beautiful to find that the world has more space for those who feel like they do not fit in. I wrote my heart out to find myself, hence the title of my book, Made in Poetry.
Made in Poetry includes poems I have written between the ages of 17 and 21, my writing transitions from a dark phase to a brighter one, depicting my journey through a kaleidoscopic lens.
I do not believe in self-pity; I believe that our challenges are opportunities in disguise for us to seek our individual potential. We each have a gift and it is our responsibility to find it and make a difference. I used to write to inspire young people, but as I compiled my work into a collection, I realised that no matter the age or circumstance, any person at any given time could decide to change their life and it will change.
I want each person who reads my book to believe in the possibility of living their dream, to wake up each morning and feel like they are capable of anything.
Ekta Somera, author of Made in Poetry
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i have been intentionally deliberate in my slow reading of Ekta’s book, choosing to let each poem or group of poems wash over me, rather than rushing through to finish the book.
One of the things that struck me early on is the unconventional nature of her poetry. Some of it looks and feels like the poems we used to know growing up and others are in paragraph form and feel almost story-like or reflective in nature and yet with a deeply poetic rhythm. Many of them are untitled and those that do have titles have them beneath the poem, almost as a commentary summary of what you have just read. i really liked this because it felt fresh and inspired.
She wore the sunlight
like an oversized sweater
her warmth reached you
before her skin could
although when night came
her golden face would frown
at the roots that held her down
as if she longed for a breeze
to take her to some place
where darkness ceased to exist
for this yellow flower was buried
in every woe the soil carried
i am still very much in ‘The Destruction’ part of the book with ‘The Renaissance’ calling me towards it. What feels rich about so many of these poems is that there is something for me as the reader, while at the same time i can only imagine the deeper meaning that Ekta holds knowing the context and inspiration for each line of words she penned – which is the power of poetry always, i guess, that it has multiple meanings for various people. So there is something for me while there is definitely a whole lot more of her.
Sometimes the library becomes a cemetery for all our feelings trapped within the depths of the books we read with a broken heart.
Many of these poems make me want to sit down with Ekta over a coffee and listen to all the stories and pain that seem trapped in so many of these pieces [as i said, Renaissance is on the way!] but that curiosity is not something that will likely ever be satisfied and Ekta owes me no such thing. Rather, she has laid out a journey of carefully chosen words and deeply symbolic images and used them to paint a path which she has invited me, and all readers, to walk along, taking in for ourselves the sights and sounds and smells that we encounter in those spaces. This is perhaps a larger gift.
Let me end off with a poem from The Renaissance, even though i am not there yet…
When someone loves you, you will know. It will feel like all the love you lost along the way has come back to you, the same thing happens when you decide to love yourself.
i am my own home and love is my centerpiece
Actually, let me throw in one last final one, cos this is gold:
Beware of the girl
who learns from her mistakes
the one who dances with the shadows
to prove she is not alone
Beware of the girl
who wouldn’t pick a diamond
over a pearl
the one who uses her sword
to save dragons
and conquer the world
Sho! Sho! Sho! Riveting stuff and if you want any more [and i know you do!] then get hold of Ekta Somera via the Twitterer or on Facebook. This will make an excellent Christmas present for a friend [or yourself] and we really needing to be supporting our local creatives at this time.
Made in Poetry is, i am sure, the first of many, and i cannot wait to see what Ekta shares with us next. Keep an eye on this yougn woman, as judging by her bio already, she is likely to storm the world!
Thank you thank you thank you for the words…
love Brett Fish