The Next Big Thing

My interactive artist friend Maya Chowdhry has introduced me to The Next Big Thing where I write about one of my books – my poetry collection – The Heart of It

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I published my first collection, Wild Cinnamon and Winter Skin, in 2007 and started work on this one a year later. I didn’t have an idea about what the final manuscript would look like but I was writing my way through a personal crisis and at the same time continuing to write about things that were happening in the world and having an impact on me. In the end the book became a synthesis of both those themes – personal heartbreak and public trauma.

What genre does your book fall under?


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have always fancied the idea of being an actor so if someone was making a movie, I’d ask for an audition for the part.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

“The Heart of It is a tender, moving collection, full of passionate intensity and an unswerving faith in the power of reconciliation and love….. and, despite loss or heartache, always open to the outside world and its windows on the heart.” Mimi Khalvati

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I started work on the manuscript in 2008 and finished it in 2011. I took a lot of time editing and crafting the poems and experimenting with the use of different forms. It was important to me not to rush the edits and to make sure that every word counted, that nothing was superfluous. I was very fortunate to work with Mimi Khalvati, as my mentor on the journey to completion of the collection, who gave me encouragement, inspiration, rigorous feedback and her love and support.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Life has always inspired me to write. The things I observe. The things I need to understand, to survive, to recover from. My poems often begin with a question and through them I find the answer.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the poems in the book, Operation Cast Lead, was shortlisted in the Arvon Poetry Competition 2010. The process of completing the book coincided with a personal process of transformation and recovery.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It was published by Peepal Tree Press, in Spring 2012

My five writers for next Wednesday are:

Luisa Igloria

Maria Jastrzebska

Olumide Popoola

Kevin Simmonds

Shazea Quraishi