Daastan is brimming with young talent, and today we bring to you Fatima Ahmad– the 21 year old author of “Dwells“. The poetry anthology is her debut into the world of published literature.
Aside from purchasing her book “Dwells”, you can also find her poetry on her instagram account @vulnerablestar18_ . Regardless of being a busy journalism student at the University of Karachi, Fatima found the time to answer some of our burning questions.
When did you start writing? Who inspired the process?
As a young talent, Fatima started writing at the age of 12. But it wasn’t on her own accord. According to her, she was never quite inspired to write poetry. Yes, we know- in retrospect that seems unbelievable. She owes her foray into the world of poetry to her 7th grade teacher, who told her to “Write what you know“. And so she did.
Aside from real life personalities that influenced her, Fatima also provided us with a list of literary inspirations. She named some well-loved literary figures: Enid Blyton, Haruki Murakami, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and John Green.
Are there any life experiences that shape who you are as a person?
We believe it is important to know the author behind the work in order to truly appreciate the latter. For that reason our focus didn’t just remain on “Dwells”, but also on Fatima as a person and an author.
Moreover this becomes evident as Fatima tells us about her harrowing life experiences. She has been through several betrayals in her life from her extended family. However, these incidents turned her into “a better and not a bitter person“. According to her, her “pain made me (her) stronger, kinder and softer than before“. All these qualities are well reflected in her poetry.
Why did you choose “Dwells” as the title of your anthology?
It is no surprise that the title of the anthology catches our eye. We wanted to find out the meaning the word “Dwells” had for Fatima. Especially if the meaning contributed to the reader’s experience.
According to Fatima, she chose “Dwells” as the title to describe human nature, as she sees it. For her, it is a blanket word that covers much of what the anthology presents.
“ ‘Dwell’ is a word of big magnitude. At the same time it’s quite in its sense. What is more intriguing about this word is that you never know what people dwell in”.
It is apparent that the title represents a state of being- be it in our “mind, heart, memories or nightmares“.
Furthermore, the word also functions as an acronym:
Not only does the above litany convey the “various aspects of human nature“, but they also function as chapter titles in the anthology.
For a reader who has yet to pick up “Dwells”, what are the main themes that can be found in the anthology?
According to Fatima, the main themes behind her poem are reminiscing and self-reflection. It is evident that reading this anthology is an active event. She asks the reader to
“simply let your mind and heart wander back and forth…hardships, halcyon moments, all while you keep discovering your core self“.
Why did you choose to mostly forgo punctuations?
For most poets, usage (or lack thereof) of punctuations becomes a stylistic choice. During our reading of the anthology, we noticed a lack of them. Naturally, we asked Fatima to walk us through what she hoped to achieve from this decision.
As expected, it was a conscious decision on her part. She believes that punctuations in poetry “break the flow of emotions and thoughts” that seem to be evoked by the poem itself, “Hence, less punctuation felt like an apt choice to implement”.
How much of your poetry has been influenced by loss? Is there anything that helped you navigate it?
On our perusal of “Dwells“, loss became a recurring motif- and rightly so. Fatima seems to belong to the class of writers who productively channel their sadness to create wonderful pieces of literature. She rationalizes it due to there being “No obstacles at all between my (her) heart and the paper“.
Furthermore, she states that almost 95% of her poetry has been influenced by loss and in a cyclical way, it is poetry that helps her cope with it. She goes as far as to call it her favourite escape.
What is your favourite poem from the collection?
Now of course, no author interview can end without this cliched question! Funnily so, despite the barrage of heavy questioning from our side, Fatima found this particular one the toughest to answer.
However, after much contemplation she finally came to a decision. Her favourite poem belongs to Chapter 1 “Desire”, of Dwells.
“Because that is exactly how I embraced myself during the bleakest moments of my life. Therefore, this poem holds a special place in my heart“.
“Somewhere between wishing and wanting
Something best went through me
To an abandoned road
Waiting for me
To dwell upon
Teaching me the value
Of what can be gained
If you wait enough
If you care enough
If you feel enough
If you smile enough….”
And like all good things, our interview with Fatima came to an end as well! If you wish to know more about her, do give her instagram account a view. And if you want to use all these extra insights to good use, check out her poetry anthology “Dwells” on Qissa.