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

By and | 1 October 2020

DSS: I find myself astonished when I read your poems. You make these lush turns. ‘The only way to experience the zest of ancient lemons is to open your mouth when it rains’. Who are your influences, particularly when you write sentences like this? Who do you read?

MA: I am constantly cutting up my words and folding them in half and hanging them upside down so I cannot pinpoint exactly where this sentence came from. The sentence that follows this – if every buffalo did this our DNA would change and we would all become the same – comes from a place of wanting collective unity, dissolving the ego and returning to old ways of existing with nature.

I love works by Cecilia Vicuña, Clarice Lispector, Yoko Ono, Bhanu Kapil, Federico García Lorca. I am moved by Fluxus and Dadaist approaches to art making and performance. I read more folk tales and mythology than contemporary writing. I love ancient texts like Bardo Thodol (The Tibetan Book of the Dead), the I Ching (Book of Changes) and The Puranas. I read psychoanalytic dream theory, time travel theory and children’s stories. In the future I hope to make work that can be enjoyed by both adults and children.

DSS: Electric Lotus ends with a love poem, whether that love be for a lover or friend or a god. It’s a really touching love poem because it encourages the reader to move. You have to cut it out and write in it. The poem has to be shared. I’ve not seen a lot of poems like it. I feel that the poem attempts to reach inside of someone’s heart, someone’s soul by mentioning an intimate part of the body: ‘Your liver is laughing’. Liver and lover are separated by one letter. Why end Electric Lotus with a poem like this?

MA: I did not realise that liver and lover are separated by one letter. Thank you for showing me this beautiful connection. I wanted the reader to engage in an act of offering by passing the liver questionnaire on. It is a playful way to get to know friends and lovers. It is designed to provoke and stimulate the imaginative spirit – what are the names of animals that grow on your liver? write down a list of songs for your liver to perform.

‘The Laughing Liver’ questionnaire is a version of a dictation I conduct in my workshops. It is derived from Butoh scores, where the instructions cross dimensions and worlds. Often in the dictations I change body parts – hands, eyes, fingers. This is the first time I have used an internal organ in this way.

The spirit of the text lives on in the connections it inspires. For those who have lost touch with their inner children, I hope the laughing liver offering can help unearth some of what is hidden.

DSS: Manisha, thank you kindly for all of your wisdom, for your music, and for providing and cultivating such expansive ways of seeing the world.

MA: Thank you Darlene. I think you are one of the most incredible poets of our generation. A true poet. It has been such a joy to share my inner world with you.

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