Poet Aarti Nayar is a mother of two and an instructor of ESL (English as Second Language) at Gwinnett Technical College in the department of adult education. In addition to poetry, Aarti writes for children, has been published in the Indian monthly publication Khabar, and is an active contributor to The Titan View, Northview High School’s monthly newsletter.
How do you create your poetry?
Writing a poem, to me, is akin to creating a painting where the subject is my emotion(s) of the moment and the art is a depiction of it in words.
At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?
Over the years, as I wrote both poetry and prose it helped me realize my ability to create something that was both meaningful and beautiful and spoke to my need to speak my mind about the situation on hand. The beauty came from my endless quest to find the perfect synonym, the perfect simile, or metaphor to describe the thought swirling in my head, much in the same way as any other artist (painter, sculptor, chef) would toil to perfect his creation. In that sense I have thought of myself as an artist ever since my association with the writing process.
How would you describe your spirituality?
I believe in the presence of a higher power and feel inspired by the religion of humanity.
How does your spirituality find expression in your art?
My poems encompass the spectrum of human existence, from politics and war, to nature and beauty, and in general to the mystical and the mysterious in all things around. While very diverse in their subject matter they all resonate with an underlying feel for the human condition and its limitlessly universal appeal.
Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?
Be it a poem on a moonlit night, or the haunting magic of trees, or the spectacle of falling leaves, the death of a solder or the devastation of the tsunami, one is endlessly examining, at very close quarters, the different manifestations of life. In the throes of this introspection, what you start to see is the grand scale of the forces at play and inadvertently a sense of your own bit space. One understands very quickly that one is but a cog in the wheel that is designed to move with or without you. For me personally, that is the definition of god and in doing what I do I’m forever aware of his presence.
How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?
As I write a poem, I start from taking a broader, magnified view and narrow it to the finer, situational view. In doing this I feel like I’m on a journey that takes me around the different vistas of life, visiting and verifying what I need until finally it’s time for me to get off at my destination. While on this journey I feel like I’m connected to, as you call it, the divine flow, as if I see the intrinsic circuitry of life and understand its enduring inter-connectedness.
While not intentional, it’s certainly intuitive and is what I experience as I create my poems.
How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?
My book of poems, Eggshells of the Soul is a collaborative work of six poets including myself. While the book is a shared collection, the poems in it are very much each poet’s personal expression.
How do ideas come to you?
I think it’s all about how you are perceiving the world around you at any given moment. In a sense each perception could potentially be a trigger for a poem. Sometimes three or four ideas come to me just in listening to the news or reading an article or from a bit from a conversation I might have had a week ago or simply from the sights and sounds around me.
How do you decide which ideas to pursue?
Over the years I have learned not to rate ideas or judge them as worthy of perusal. Writing a poem is the device by which I explore the trigger. While I may go into it having one thought, many a times what follows is something entirely different from the original sentiment. There are times when I myself am surprised by the chain of thoughts and the climax that they lead me to. What I see at the start and what I conclude with at the end of my poetic examination could be completely unexpected and radical.
If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?
I would strongly recommend that the individual be in tune with himself, with the things that stay in his heart and those that don’t. Live your life in the big moments but more importantly live it in its smaller, everyday ones. I guess it would be fair to say that being an active participant of your life is critical. The phrase, live life to its fullest, while a cliché, is certainly a necessary requirement. It is where you get the inspiration from. Additionally be a lover of your language. It is from scouring its depths that you can find that perfect metaphor that will season your poem much like a cook seasons his dish. As we know, when it comes to seasoning, all one needs is a dash of this and a pinch of that.
How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?
I think that both are intrinsically related and affect the other spontaneously. That said I do think that who you are and the leanings of your spirit will color the way you approach your art. What you choose to advance with it or choose to take-away from it is also a function of the state of your spirituality. In that sense my spiritual evolution has constantly informed the choices I make with my art.
Find out more about Aarti in this interview with Colleen Walsh Fong on the blog site Eve. Aarti’s book Eggshells of the Soul is available on Amazon and Booklogix. Her work has been featured in several issues of CountryLine magazine. See her poem Niagara Falls on page 25. Aarti’s poem titled I sit watching. . . (as cancer consumes you) is featured on page 22 in this issue.
With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access the Art as Worship radio interviews on Empower Radio. Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Like us on Facebook at Art as Worship, then share your art and comments. Contact Vanessa Lowry at vlowry (@) gmail.com if you would like to be a featured artist on Art as Worship. Namaste!