Proust Questionnaire: 17 questions with Pooja Nansi
By Yeow Kai Chai
If Pooja Nansi could be summed up in one word, it would be "connector." In her multiple roles as educator, performance poet and musician, she is blessed with the enviable knack of putting people at ease while speaking about matters of the heart.
To that end, her ruddy poetry says like it is, embracing her lineage as a child of migrants as well as a citizen of Singapore. Since making her debut on the literary scene with her first verse collection, Stiletto Scars (Word Forward, 2007), she has expanded her portfolio.
She has released a follow-up, Love is an Empty Barstool (Math Paper Press, 2013); co-edited SingPoWriMo, an anthology of Singaporean Poetry (Math Paper Press, 2014); and co-authored Local Anaesthetic: A Painless Approach to Singaporean Poetry, a teacher's resource published by Ethos Books in 2014.
Since April 2013, she has been helming Speakeasy, a popular monthly spoken word and poetry event, at Artistry, showcasing emerging and established poets from places as diverse as Burma and Botswana. She also runs the Singapore chapter of Burn After Reading, a platform for young emerging poets. Since 2009, she has also been one half of the spoken-word and acoustic music duo The Mango Dollies along with singer-songwriter Anjana Srinivasan. She is currently the National Arts Council-Nanyang Technological University writer-in-residence for 2015-2016.
She will next appear in the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) in a one-woman show called 'You are Here' directed by Joel Tan as part of Checkpoint Theatre's What I Love About You Is Your Attitude Problem. She will also share her hopes for the future in 'Imagine Singapore…' as part of the SWF Stage: Lecture Series.
1. What are you reading right now?
2. If you were a famous literary character in a novel, play or poem, what would you be and why?
In reality however, I'm probably a cross between Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby who is a reflection of my inner child – clumsy, spunky and more than a little mad – and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility, who feels everything too much and falls for the wrong men.
3. What is the greatest misconception about you?
4. Name one living writer and one dead writer you most identify with, and tell us why.
5. Do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
6. What qualities do you most admire in a writer?
7. What is one trait you most deplore in writing or writers?
8. Can you recite your favourite line from a literary work or a piece of advice from a writer?
9. Complete this sentence: Few people know this, but I...
10. At the movies, if you have to pick a comedy, a tragedy, or an action thriller to watch, which will you go for, and why?
11. What is your favourite word, and what is your least favourite one?
12. Write a rhyming couplet that contains the following three words: "Gillian Welch", "grandmother" and "mango".
13. What object is indispensable to you when you write?
14. What is the best time of the day for writing?
15. If you have a last supper, which three literary figures, real or fictional, would you invite to the soiree, and why?
16. As a former teacher, you have taught English literature to junior college students. Can you assess the way the subject is being taught in schools in Singapore – what's right and what could be done better?
17. What would you write on your own tombstone?
Pooja Nansi will appear at two events at this year's Singapore Writers Festival. Her one-woman show, 'You Are Here (or a Guide to Planning an Indian Wedding in Singapore)', is part of the festival's overnight programme on Nov 7 at the Arts House called 'What I Love About You is Your Attitude Problem'. Together with Ho Kwon Ping and Bertha Henson, she will be in a lecture titled 'Imagine Singapore…' at Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre, Summit 2, on Nov 8 at 1pm. Tickets for both events from Sistic. For more information, please see the SWF website.QLRS Vol. 14 No. 4 Oct 2015