Klue Magazine this June
INTRODUCING: SHARANYA MANIVANNAN
Klue Magazine, June 2007
There's a bit of a disconnect when reconciling the image of Sharanya the person and Sharanya the poet. Onstage, she exacts a commanding presence, her reading voice and image sensual, lyrical, literate and emotionally charged. But the first thing that strikes you when you meet her in person is how diminutively statured she is. She's small!
But such impressions say nothing of her body of work, already substantial for a 21-year-old. Or of her experience as a spoken word performer, already a veteran of the local poetry scene, regularly reading alongside other acclaimed poets such as Bernice Chauly and Rahmat Haron at poetry events such as Wayang Kata, Readings@Tempinis and Doppelganger. It didn't happen overnight, of course.
No wallflower, the India-born Sharanya has been cultivating her love of poetry for the past 16 years, growing up in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. "I loved books before I could read. I even remember the first poem I ever wrote sitting with my mum on a veranda. It was two stanzas about a cat," says Sharanya, reminiscing about the first awkward steps it took to be a writer. These days, however, the writing has moved on to more adult themes: love, loss, longing, plus the occasional swipe at the male ego. Some of these works can be found in her self-published chapbook of poems, entitled Iyari (a Huichol Indian concept of "heart-memory").
Asked to describe her work, Sharanya puts it simply. "My work is very simple. I don't try to be abstract. I try to write about what I feel. And I feel very intensely. Every poem I write is about distilling an experience or emotion I've had." It's hard to argue with that summation but anyone who have seen Sharanya on stage can easily attest to the fact that what she does is not easy at all. There's a winning combination of rawness and finesse in her work that's quite astounding for such a young pup.
Currently editing an anthology of women's writing for a publisher in India, working on a novel, producing a series of large-scale paintings and expanding Iyari. Sharanya is getting ready to stage her first solo spoken word show entitled Ochre As The Earth at No Black Tie (on 3 June, 9pm, RM15 admission). She'll also be appearing in this month's Words & Tunes at MPH Bangsar Village (on 9 June, 3pm, free admission). Those who haven't met Sharanya before, this is a plum opportunity to witness a great poet in the making.