‘It is a gift for you’: Darlene Silva Soberano Interviews Manisha Anjali

By and | 1 October 2020

DSS: How did you put your poems together? Software? Classic pen and paper?

MA: I compose with black inky pens, unruled notebooks and voice recordings. I write on mirrors, windows and floors with chalk. I use scissors to cut up my words and let them fall randomly. I like to induce chance and accidents. On my computer I use just Notepad and Microsoft Word. I can write anywhere – in beds, desks, floors and on buses, trains and aeroplanes. I am always putting black coffee, tea and sugary fruits and chocolates down my throat – essential components of the creative process.

DSS: I get the sense that the experimental nature of Electric Lotus is influenced by your many different art practices. Your speakers in Electric Lotus are figures so present and attuned to the world, kind of responding to stimulus the same way that you as an artist respond to (and respond through) so many different forms. How did you come to be the artist you are now? I know you began in fiction until you did your Hot Desk Fellowship at The Wheeler Centre before pivoting, for example.

MA: Writing is my primary medium because it is cheap to do so. It allows me to freely move through the world without worrying about expensive equipment. I want to feel light. The medium does not matter, my work can be translated into so many different forms. The writing is the blueprint. Everything I write begins as a film in my head. There are images, symbols, scenes, transitions, dialogue and music. I think in imagery, sound and performative instructions. So, working across many mediums feels natural. I particularly love to play with vocal improvisation and create interactive installations. The creative project that brings me deepest joy is the Neptune COVID-19 Collective Dream Journal, where I have been collecting and publishing pandemic dreams and hallucinations experienced by the People of the World since March. In this collaborative publication, everyone is a storyteller. Dreams are the purest source of poetry and storytelling – the origins of mythology.

It is true that I have always wanted to be a novelist. Poetry happened by accident during my time as a Hot Desk Fellow. Attempting to write a novel was a frustrating experience. I felt like I was being suffocated by structure. So, I let go of the idea that I had to conform to sentences and narratives by performing a symbolic act – violently scribbling out all the ugly words. I didn’t want to pander to an audience or industry or traditional forms of expression. I developed a preoccupation with freedom. I taught myself how to engage directly with colours, moods, moments and dreams. Funnily enough, I feel like I am ready to return to that structure now. I am being pulled so strongly toward the realm of the narrative again.

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