A Brief Bio: Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her works have been featured in GoDogGoCafe, Whisper and the Roar, Duane Poetree, Visual Verse, Vita Brevis, Poets Corner, Modern poetry, Spillwords Press, Indian periodicals, Literary heist, Little Rose Magazine and in many other publications. She recently won the 1st prize in NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Mental Health Poetry contest. You can find her blog here.
What is the purpose of poetry?
Poetry molds your perception about life and its beauty in general. To me, my words are not only self-healing but conduits for people who have lost their voice and need a medium through which they can express themselves.
Tell me about your early experience writing poetry
I started writing almost two years ago, but it was mostly in bits and pieces or whenever I could get the time to scribble a few lines. Due to time limitations and not enough motivation, I used to write one to two poems a month. Initially, I started sharing my poems privately with friends and sporadically on Facebook. After getting a decent response I started my blog last year around the end of August.
Writing has been very cathartic for me. It has given me a voice laced with introspection, which usually gets lost in this cacophonous life. Initially, I started writing poems based on my experiences, and then slowly, when I realized the power of words and their reach, I started writing about issues which are closer to my heart. Giving shape to my emotions using words attracted me towards writing.
What do you consider your largest accomplishments as a poet?
For quite some time, I was held back with the fear of being judged about my writings. I held onto that fear for almost two years, writing sporadically once or twice in a month. But once I created my blog and started posting I got an overwhelming response from the WordPress community, and I found that motivating.
I started sending out my poems for submissions and, within eleven months of starting my own poetry blog, I have had over 230 poems published in eighteen literary journals, e-zines, and literary collectives in ten different countries.
I also consider winning the NJ NAMI Axelrod Health poetry competition an accomplishment.
Tell me about your journey into publication
At first, I never thought of publishing my poems. I was more than happy to give my poems a home on WordPress and to have the opportunity to connect with like-minded writers and poets.
I came across a literary collective, GoDogGo cafe, a virtual cafe for writers. I really liked the pieces featured on the blog and saw the call for submission. So, I decided to send out five poems. I was more than excited to learn that all of them were published. At that time, GoDogGo Cafe was managed by Christine Ray (who also managed Whisper and the Roar, a feminist collective and a part of the Sudden Denouement Publishing group).
Christine generously published three of the poems in GoDogGo Cafe and two in the Whisper and The Roar. After a few weeks, I was asked to join both the literary collectives as the editor and collective member. That was quite an uplifting moment for me. They have been a great supporter of my work ever since. Currently, I’m an editor and author for five literary collectives on WordPress.
Motivated by such a positive response and an overwhelming response by the WordPress community I started sending out submissions and my journey into the publication world began.
What advice do you have for fellow poets?
The only tip I can give to the emerging poets is to read as much they can. It not only improves your writing style but also gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded people on WordPress and elsewhere. As for publication, there are various tools on the internet such as Submittable, Duotrope, or pw.org, all of which give you lists of the poetry publications that accept submissions. It’s always a good idea to find a publication there and then read their published work to get the essence of the writings they are looking for.
Also, never get discouraged by rejections. The more published a poet is, the more s/he has to encounter rejections. Just follow the submission guidelines and the theme of the publication.
What’s your poetry writing process?
I liken my writing to stream-of-consciousness writing since I don’t plan ahead. I write only when emotions or an idea strikes me. It could be anything from a change in weather to a long-lost song playing on the radio, a paragraph from the book I’m reading or anything else. Very rarely do I edit my poems, and I have almost never rewritten one. I don’t have any specific process or preference in location for writing. I have written at the most inappropriate place and at the most ungodly hour, so to say.
What informs your poetry?
I derive most of my inspiration from my own life experiences and the people close to me. Being an avid lover of nature and dance, I have written a lot about dance and its correlation with nature. Also, being a feminist by heart, I have written about womanhood and its essence along with the struggles faced in today’s world.
Who are your Favorite Poets?
I have been influenced by modern poets, such as Kaveh Akbar, Peycho Kanev, Rupi Kaur, Nikita Gill, Shel Silverstein, Lang Leav, Ocean Vuong, Courtney Poppell, to name a few. Classic poets have also inspired me. I love to read the amazing and soul-stirring poetry of Maya Angelou, Ruskin Bond, the confessional poetry of Sylvia Plath, the dark and surreal poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, and the mesmerizing sonnets of Rumi.
Also, being a member of literary collectives, I’m extremely blessed to work with and read the amazing writings of the talented poets of the WordPress, such as Christine Ray, Kindra Austin, Georgia Parks, Kristiana Reed, Devika Mathur, Aakriti Kuntal, Nicholas Gagnier, and Stephen Fuller.
What’s the most difficult part of writing poetry?
As quoted by Friedrich Nietzsche, “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” To me, the most difficult part of writing poetry is to tame that disorder in your mind in such a way that it gives birth to beautiful poetry rather than getting lost in the chaos and dissonance.
Just like any other poet, sometimes not finding the right word to represent emotions frustrates me. Als, being a mother of an active seven-year-old, striking a balance between taking care of him and doing justice to poetry poses its own challenge.
If you could let our readers know just one thing, what would it be?
It has been only a year since I have begun writing poetry, but of all the 700+ poems I have written, I have realized that unless you are writing from your heart, your words will always fail to impress your readers, no matter how elegant and fanciful your choice of words are. The beauty of the poem lies in the underlying emotion, which will only come through if you write from the heart and become a part of your writing in the process.
What’s next for you?
Recently one of the literary collectives, that I am associated with, has turned into a small publishing press. They are planning to print an anthology of poems of several writers from the collective in which few of my poems will be featured. I also recently joined a Canadian publishing press, which will soon be publishing a poetry collection which will feature one of my poems.
There are few other poems also selected for publication in print and online by a few esteemed literary magazines. So, I’m excited to see my poems in print. As any other poet, my dream is to publish my own poetry collection in the coming years.