Mir Mahfuz Ali interviews Seni Seneviratne

Mahfuz: When did you realize that you had a poet in you that wanted to burst out defying all odds?
Seni: It’s hard to pinpoint a moment when I first realised I had a poet inside me. My quest for connection through language feels like it has been with me a long time.  I don’t think of the poet in me as bursting out to defy all odds but rather I think of that love of, and belief in, language taking me on a journey.  On that journey poetry was not only my most faithful ally and companion but also my most stable currency, the most powerful thing I had to wager with.

Mahfuz: How do you coordinate your brainpower with your strong feelings to make it into a poetic force? And when is writing for you not just therapeutic or inspirational but art or craftsmanship?
Seni: There is nothing like the thrill I feel when, having stepped into a poem, lived with it and carried it around with me, it starts to unfold and finds where it wants to go. But however wonderful that process, it doesn’t happen by magic. There is the diligence of waiting and watching, researching, crafting, editing and the constant exploration of language in the service of the poem.  Poetry is my politics and I believe that it can change hearts as well as minds and be a powerful force for change in the world.

Mahfuz:What have you gained through your involvement with The Complete Works project?
Seni: My mentor, Mimi Khalvati, has given me so much in so many ways.  She has picked up each of the poems I have given her with all the love and care that I laid them down and she has helped me to nurture them, interrogate them, craft them into poems I am proud of.  She has given me her time and support, enhanced my skills and my belief