May 14, 2021

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Verses from the heart

POETRY writing in itself is a tricky business. Compared with other forms of writing, the formula for writing a poem is not fixed.

Hence, this form of art tends to be the least favourite among young readers. But 25-year-old Kamalia Hasni finds fulfilment in expressing her inner thoughts and emotions in stanzas.

“Poetry writing gave me the courage to explore my emotions with my own words. It has become a way for me to express myself,” said the KL native cheerfully.

Kamalia first discovered her love for poetry after a romantic breakup in 2017. It was during this ordeal that she came across a poem on Twitter.

This eventually led her to buy Nikita Gill’s poetry book, Your Soul is a River.

“It helped me to better understand the emotional pain and anger I was feeling. I really resonated with many of the poems.”

Over time, she found herself mimicking the habits of a poet.

Whenever she was feeling blue or over the moon, she would often jot down her feelings in her notebook, or on her mobile phone.

Today, she is the proud author of two poetry books and is the founder of a local indie publishing company, Meraki Press.

How was the whole process like, publishing and writing your first book, An Ocean of Grey?

After finishing my book, I had trouble finding suitable publishing companies for it.

Unfortunately, most of the visions from the companies did not align with what I had envisioned for my book.

So, my best friend suggested a crazy idea: Why don’t we start our own publishing house? That way, we can continue publishing other books after An Ocean of Grey.

So, we teamed up with a friend of ours who became the main illustrator for the book.

That was basically how Meraki Press, our own indie publishing company, was born and how two of my books were published.

What was the inspiration behind An Ocean of Grey?

It was inspired by the heartache I experienced from my previous relationship.

You can say it was my first love, which was why it hurt me quite deeply.

In fact, I wrote many poems about the phases of the breakup.

The first poem was used at the beginning of the book. The other poems were my experience dealing with the aftermath of the breakup.

It made me realise that I had an amazing support system that got me through a tough time.

This eventually helped me accept that what had happened, was for the best.

Would you say your second book, A Wave of Dreams saw growth in you as a writer?

Yes, I would say so. I believe this time around I was able to write with more metaphors and similes. I have also experienced growth as a person.

While my first book focuses more on the pain caused by the heartbreak, my second one touches more on the healing phase of it.

It is really a turnaround from An Ocean of Grey, which was much sadder and frankly quite depressing.

Could you guide us through how your poems are developed?

I would begin with just writing or typing out whatever is in my head.

Sometimes they are unfinished thoughts, and I would return to them another time and work on them when I finally find the right words.

Other times, I write my thoughts out in a paragraph of words and when I am finished, I will then see if they can be arranged in free-verse poetry form.

Did you experience writer’s block during the writing of the books?

When I was writing two of my poetry books, I never wrote for the sole purpose of getting my work published.

It was always for myself first, so getting writer’s block never really bothered me.

But other times, I would usually keep my writings in my drafts.

When I can find the right words, I will work on them again. This is because I find that my writing does not sound as genuine or powerful if I write it when I am
not in the right mood, or when
I write for reasons other than for myself.

How do you think we, as the public, can cultivate a habit of reading in our country?

I think one way is by firstly learning to identify what we are personally interested in (movies, sports, hobbies, anything) and then look for books about that interest, be it fiction or non-fiction.

I believe that reading what we like is a great start to get into the habit of reading.

Once you do, it will be much easier to explore other topics and genres of books.

What are your plans for the future?

At the moment, I am in the early stages of writing a fiction novel, likely a romance or chic-lit.

Hopefully, if this goes well I can try to get it traditionally published!

As for poetry, it is not likely that I will be writing a third poetry book anytime soon, but it is definitely not a closed door.