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Promising Poet

‘I write about belongingness, nostalgia and memories’

Tayyaba Rehman, student of Apeejay School, Noida, says the concept of home and belongingness are crucial elements in her poetic voice



Home means different things to different people. For some, it is all about safety, for others it translates into emotional warmth while for many it is simply about acceptance. But clearly home is where the heart is and for young Tayyaba Rehman, home is a place she has spent the last 12 years of her life – and that’s her school. 

In the Apeejay Promising Poet interview series, the rising poet explains how the bonds of belongingness with a place and the people one spends time with gradually forms an essential part of oneself. Edited excerpts:

 At what age did you start writing poetry?

 I started writing poetry when I was seven. The first poem I wrote was about my brother and I remember being really happy about it. So, I went on to write more poems ever since and found my true passion.

What was the inspiration behind picking up the pen?

I think it developed because I used to observe things around me a lot, focusing on how they are at first. And then, I went on to wonder how things can be, letting my imagination work. Also, my grandfather used to write poetry and so, I truly believe that I’ve got it from him. When it was my first birthday, he wrote a poem for me and I got to read it when I grew up. So, in a way to write poems is also to honour his passion as well.

Who is your favorite poet and what is your favorite poem?

It’s really hard to choose a favourite poet but recently I’ve been really enjoying Emily Dickinson’s work. Her writing style is really unique as she expresses in full depth even the simplest things in life. My favourite poem from her oeuvre is ‘A Day.’

Tell us about the process of writing a poem?

Poetry comes naturally to me. Usually, I stick to an idea for a poem, and the lines start resonating. I would come up with random words or words that are new to me. Then, I associate the idea with pictures and objects, which would define the relevant emotions. Often, I write in a flow but at times I give myself breaks to come up with new lines. Listening to instrumentals also helps with a certain rhythm while writing. My writing style isn’t specific as I like experimenting with different tones, connotations, even vocabulary depending on how I want to express myself.

The eternal poetry question: Rhyme or Free verse?

I prefer both but it also depends on what resonates the most at the given context and emotion. Rhyme definitely gives the structure to a poem, whereas I feel that free verse is more personal and formulated to give more insight to what has been said, or perhaps, to read in between the lines and give an in-depth meaning.

How does your school help you to write such good verses?

I have written poems for the school magazine and other school events as well. So great opportunities like these offered by the school have given me the freedom and the challenge to use my creativity well and to step out of a certain domain as well as explore my skills further. Plus, my English teachers have been really supportive and encouraging of what I write and have been a guiding force all along, helping me improvise in poetry.

What was the thought behind your poem ‘Leaving Behind’?

Leaving Behind” was the first poem I wrote after taking a long break from poetry writing. It is about leaving your home for the first time in your life and moving to a completely new place. I have spent almost twelve years in this school which is like a home to me since nursery class, and leaving all of it behind has been a big moment. I’m still learning to embrace the change. I wrote about that sense of belongingness, nostalgia and memories that come with it and how I’ve left a part here and taken so much along with me.

What are your next poems?

I am planning to write some poems. I will probably write some more about my memories. I’m also thinking of writing something about happiness and its different forms that I am becoming aware of. Recently, I have also  started writing a bit on fictional storylines or fictional ideas, which is interesting and a new genre to me.

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]