March 24, 2023

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

“I’m more oriented towards my writing journey than my publishing journey.”- Pervin Saket (Indian poet and author)

5 min read

Team Kitaab is in conversation with Indian poet and author Pervin Saket as a part of the South Asian Women Writers Feature.

For the whole of March, we will be featuring South Asian Women Writers on Kitaab for the whole of March. You can read the editor’s note to know more about this.

Today, we are featuring an award-winning poet and writer from India, Pervin Saket.

Pervin won the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize 2021, one of India’s leading English language poetry competitions. She is the author of Urmila, the retelling of a mythical tale of love and longing and of the poetry collection, A Tinge of Turmeric. She is the 2021 Fellow for the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, mentoring young international authors.

Her novel has been adapted for stage performances and dance recitals. Her work has extensively featured in The Indian Quarterly, The Joao-Roque Literary Journal, Paris Lit Up, Singapore Unbound, Usawa Literary Review, Tiferet etc. Pervin is a school textbook editor, poetry editor and co-founder of the Annual Dum Pukht Writers’ Workshop.

Team Kitaab: How did writing happen to you?

Pervin Saket: Growing up, books were my best friends. So, it was natural for me to want to belong in the company of writers. I never decided to become a writer, it was an organic and inevitable journey. 

Pauses, silences, and gaps are just as important as language and stories.

pervin saket

Team Kitaab: If you had to introduce someone to your work/s, which books of yours would you ask them to start with?

Pervin Saket: You can read some of my work here: 

Poetry: https://thepunchmagazine.com/the-byword/poetry/the-poetry-issue-2022-the-names-of-things-and-other-poems

Nonfiction: https://www.usawa.in/issue-3/non-fiction/pervin-saket

Children’s writing: https://www.adidevpress.com/pervin-saket/

Team Kitaab: Share five reads you would recommend from your region/ country.

Pervin Saket:

a. Pronoti Dutta ‘Half Blood’ (India / English) 

b. Sumana Roy ‘How I Became a Tree’ (India / English)

c. Arundhathi Subramaniam ‘When God is a Traveller’ (India / English) 

d. Tashan Mehta ‘The Liar’s Weave’ (India / English) 

e. Aditi Patil ‘Patriarchy and the Pangolin: A Field Guide to Indian Men and other Species’ (India / English) 

Team Kitaab: Your thoughts on Women Writing as a genre. 

Pervin Saket: Women’s writing is not a genre, it is a political but necessary categorization, in line with the kind of categorization needed for other marginalised groups e.g., Dalit writing, Asian writing, Queer writing etc. We do not have or need a category called men’s writing / white people writing / straight people writing etc. This is because these writers belong to groups of privilege. The more we need to qualify a writer with adjectives, the more that writer belongs to a marginalized group.

The more we need to qualify a writer with adjectives, the more that writer belongs to a marginalized group.

pervin saket

For instance, Tagore would be known as an Indian writer, while Sarojini Naidu would be known as an Indian woman writer. One extra adjective. Meena Kandasamy would be known as an Indian woman Dalit writer. Two extra adjectives. As problematic as these divisions are, they are necessary so that we may amplify their voices. The goal, finally, is to reach a place where ‘women’s writing’ as a category is as unnecessary as ‘men’s writing’. The goal of any feminist movement is to reach a place where feminism is not needed — because true equality has been achieved. 

Team Kitaab: Please talk a bit about your publishing journey. The challenges you faced and the hurdles.

Pervin Saket: I’m more oriented towards my writing journey than my publishing journey. My concerns have always been to get the right words on the page; publishing and other larger matters can be so overwhelming it is best to leave this to professionals. I’ve been supported at every step by the fabulous writer Anil Menon (with whom I cofounded the Kolam Writers’ Workshop) and by a nurturing group of friends. 

I think if we truly connect with ourselves rather than conform to external calendars, validations and orientations, then we will find our own best rhythms in writing. 

pervin saket

Team Kitaab: How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Pervin Saket: There are weeks and months when I cannot get anything new written, and I believe that is perfectly fine. I do not diagnose it as a block or an issue. Pauses, silences, and gaps are just as important as language and stories. Would you be able to read this sentence if there weren’t any spaces between the words? Similarly, I value the time when there is nothing produced on the page. It might be the necessary and invisible mental-emotional process that comes before any good writing. Or it might not.

Already, our culture places too much emphasis on ‘productivity’ — a capitalist inheritance that we must treat with some suspicion. Everything that is natural has phases of ebb and flow, spring and winter, waxing and waning. All trees do not produce fruit throughout the year. All clouds do not produce rain throughout the year. I think if we truly connect with ourselves rather than conform to external calendars, validations and orientations, then we will find our own best rhythms in writing. 

Disclaimer: All pictures are copyright of the author/s unless otherwise.