September, Rupinder Kaur
This month's piece is written by poet Rupinder Kaur and reflects on a September filled with family, poetry and inspiration from female writers. She talks about the joy of leading a ghazal poetry writing workshop and the sadness of hearing about the murder of South London Schoolteacher Sabina Nessa, who was killed on her way to meet a friend, just minutes from her home.
Take a look at the rest of this year's digital programme on our website: https://www.birminghamliteraturefestival.org/
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Curator: Shantel Edwards (Festival director)
Production: 11C/ Birmingham Podcast Studios for Writing West Midlands
BLF Newsletter Podcast Transcript: Episode 9, Rupinder Kaur
Welcome to the Birmingham Lit Fest Presents…
podcast and our new series of commissioned writing about 2021. Each month we are commissioning a new writer to reflect on the month that has passed, offering us moments of connection through great writing and the opportunity to reflect about what we have collectively experienced at the end of the year.
Hi, I’m Rupinder Kaur and I wrote September’s piece for the Birmingham Literature Festival’s monthly blog.
“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn't comfortable. I dare you...”
I have been thinking a lot about Michaela’s speech, she won best writer at the Emmys for I May Destroy You. Across the past two years, this pandemic gave me the time to reflect on my own life, life around me from my family to the world. As a writer what scares me the most is writing about myself, my actual true and innermost feelings. Until last year I had never written anything that is truly personal and now in my writing I always try to write what is truthful to me.
September always reminds me of new starts, new beginnings possibly because the academic year starts again in September. It brings warmth and hope that yes the year is almost over but it's not exactly over yet. I have been trying to go on my daily walk almost everyday, something which I have been doing for the past year. Connecting with nature and seeing how nature changes over the months from spring to autumn, hearing the crunchy-ness of leaves when you are walking is a sound I particularly love along with seeing the colours of orange and deep reds.
It was Mum's birthday on the 16th, so we went to the Botanical gardens. Mum's the biggest nature lover and she talks to plants, thinks they understand her. I wonder what language they actually understand or do they actually have a language. Then we had a nice evening meal at Asha’s and no, Tom Cruise was not there!
Here is an excerpt from a poem ‘Trace’ I have been working on:
There’s this dream I had where I flicked seeds
on the garden shed roof until white doves spoke
to peach trees. One peach tree was Mum.
I am losing parts of Dad from my face.
I am becoming Mum, just taller,
so I can watch the doves fly for both of us.
Over September I have been reading The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahaway and Luster by Raven Leilani. Mona quoted some of June Jordan’s poetry which intrigued me, so I went and brought her collection Directed by Desire which I have been devouring. It was also super nice to run a poetry workshop in person for the Desiblitz Literature festival! Sharing my love for South Asian poetry and teaching the basics of ghazal writing. If you truly want to understand South Asian poetry and ghazals you have to listen to music, the rhythms. Almost all poetry in South Asia has an oral tradition, it is to be performed such as ghazals, qawwalis, folk songs. To top it all off I went to Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan concert. It was such a magical experience to be immersed in live qawwali music.
September has had a range of emotions and now towards the end it’s getting cold and dark. I can’t help but think about Sabina Nessa, a young Bangladeshi woman that was murdered. She was literally minutes from home. Is any part of the world truly safe for women, I really don’t know. Iconic Indian feminist Kamla Bhasin passed away this month and she wrote: “The first feminist must have been born the day patriarchy was born…”
Feminism in simple terms just asks for equality, to be understood. Until patriarchy gets dismantled across the entire world, we still have a long way to go. But I still have hope that maybe, just maybe, one day this entire world will become kinder and safer for all.