Irum Zahra: National Poetry Month
Could you tell us about your beginnings as a poet? When did you start developing an interest in writing poetry?
I can’t exactly put my finger on the time when I fell in love with words. I guess it was time when I was left alone in my college hostel, one day it started raining, and I had the whole ground to myself. The entire college was on a break and there were few students left in the hostel. That was the first time in my adult life that I danced. I danced in the rain. I absorbed the wind coming straight from Margallah hills and I explored every leaf I could find soaking in water. I knew I wanted to write, I wanted to write about life, love and rain.
What is the story behind the name Psychaotic?
Psychaotic is a word play of two words. ‘Psycho’ and ‘Chaotic’. I always like the idea of people connecting words because they make sense together and apart. They explain how a person with psychotic thoughts connects with everything that creates chaos and supports chaos. I wanted people to connect within the person within them and what better way than to merge chaos with psycho. I believe destruction can be turned into something better for the future, and I wanted everyone to realize that even in their despair, they can find their way home.
The purpose, again, was to tell everyone with issues out there in the world that they are not alone in the journey to self-discovery. Through my simple words, they can see what their mind projects through their actions and in the chaos of their lives, their psycho can find love.
I went through so many struggles in my life. Love, family, education, career, passions and social issues which I am still a part of. In Pakistan, there is a certain way a girl should live and love, even if she belongs to a very rich open minded family, there are standards that we have to live up to, there is suppression in the way that we are supposed to feel and then there is our religion, which gives us so, so many rights but it is portrayed as something cruel. My voice, in this book represented the pushed down thoughts of a girl raised in these conditions.
Psychaotic is my life in the past 6-7 years. It may not look like much to some people but hey, this is what life of a girl looks like when she is going through all the phases of life turned upside down at once. We’ve all been through that. My book is doom and gloom, but there are hints of life and light, like every cloud’s silver lining. What can be better than telling someone that going through all that difficulties is going to make you stronger and a better human being?
Psychaotic is a book defining troubles of life as a lesson in life.
What was the most challenging aspect of editing Psychaotic?
Well, as I said earlier that it has work of about 6-7 years, it had so many flaws in terms of verse psychology and reader perspective. I kept so many and I deleted so many. The actual manuscript, had over 200 pages and I edited it to its final stage where it has 130 pages, It is a figure yes, but that only tells that I removed the poems I no longer connected to, and I didn’t need anymore. It was hard because people I shared it with wanted me to add complex words and get rid of the ‘simple is better’ theme. I didn’t want that. I wanted it to be beautiful, simple and easy to connect to. That was the most difficult part.
Like I said, Pakistani community has a mindset diversity compared to number of ants in the world. No, Seriously. It is so hard to see and differentiate people with real issues and people posing as if they need help. So when I finished this book, I aimed at both. I wanted every girl in Pakistan to know that she is bound between standards and lifestyles but she had a mind and she can think whatever comes in her mind. She can like reading erotica if she is a doctor or a physicist, even a mathematics teacher and it is okay. I know we are told to keep a lid on our thoughts and lips, but we are growing as a nation that supports women empowerment. There are so many campaigns now that support women in all ways possible and I want Psychaotic to be part of that circle, so women here don’t feel alienated in this world. They would connect and they will feel better about themselves too.
What advice do you have for poets trying to get their work published?
I would recommend them to write, write again and then edit, then re-edit and then edit it some more. I want to tell them that everyone in this world is flawed somehow. Poetry is supposed to be flawed. If you think poetry is perfect, you are wrong on so many levels. Verses, poetic expressions all in one poem, life and death, love and hate, they combine themselves to create poetry. Poetry is meant to be flawed. So don’t worry if you find yourself rejected by publishers. It is hard, I understand. But what you have to do is keep trying and keep having faith that one day you’ll get there. As long as there is one person who loves to read your words, that is a reason enough to write.
I am here too, I am already helping writers from over the world getting their work published and if anyone wants to contact me, they can contact me and I will be available to help in any way possible.
What is your next poetry project?
My next poetry project is ‘Invictus’. It translates from Latin to the word ‘Unconquered’.
It will be darker than Psychaotic because this time I am focusing on adding Supernatural touch to it. I think it will be a great way of describing the relation of a human mind with the unseen and unexplained. If anything, it will become the symbol of open mindedness and belief of unseen in Pakistan. I feel that this genre is not addressed by authors in Pakistan as much as it should be. That is why it will be a great chance to explore new ways into the minds of everyone here and then abroad.
Facebook: Beyond The Edge Of Sanity
I am Irum Zahra from Islamabad, Pakistan. I am proud to call myself an award nominated international writer. I am 24 years old and I hope to grow more intellectually with age. I started writing when I was in 6th grade and since then, I haven’t stopped grasping words to define how I feel towards life and its attributes. I am currently working my way into the publishing industry of Pakistan by representing young writers achieve their goal of getting their work recognition and appreciation. I currently have two blogs and 3 Facebook pages that actively post, review and publish stories, poetry, literature and event coverage.