Tell us about yourself.
My name is Harman Kaur, and I am a 21-year-old writer from Abbotsford, BC, Canada.
Describe your style of art.
I express myself through words very well so I chose the medium of poetry to tell my story.
How did you first get into poetry?
I have been writing since I was 9. I started out by writing short stories and songs, but it eventually developed into poetry as I entered high school. I was really inspired by the (translated) writings of Rumi and his devotion to God.
At what point did you realize you may excel in this?
It wasn't until I started showing my work to friends, and online, that I realized this is something I might be good at. Up until that point I had not received any feedback on my writing as I had not shared it with anyone!
Considering the stereotype of some parents, what do your family think about what you do?
My parents and sibling are so supportive of everything I do, whether it is travelling for events or writing my book! I don't think I would have gotten the courage to take any steps if I thought my parents would be disapproving.
How does inspiration find you for your poetry?
I find inspiration from my experiences and the things and people that surround me. I used to just jot down ideas on my phone, but now I literally carry a notebook with me because I don't think anything can compare to the experience of physically scribbling something on paper.
Have you gone through a period when inspiration has been hard to come by, and if so, how did you get over it?
This has happened to me multiple times, once when I was almost finished Phulkari! As I mentioned before, I tend to write about my experiences so when I hit a block, I remind myself to breathe, keeping in mind that the words will come when they are meant to come.
Take us through your creative process?
I usually get ideas at the most random of times so I always make sure to write it down somewhere I will be able to come back to it. If I am being honest, I usually come back to to the ideas months later! I start off by free-writing off of the idea I have written down and then proceed to cut it down and edit it until I am happy with it. I am a firm believer in the idea that most pieces can always be improved so it is super important for me to not get too attached to what I believe is the final piece!
Who are/were your artistic idols/inspirations?
I mentioned above that I found Rumi to be very inspiring. There is something about Sufi poetry that really touches me, so I quite enjoy reading the likes of Rumi and Hafez. I also find so much inspiration from Gurbani! When it comes to Panjabi poetry, I love reading/listening to Shiv Kumar Batalvi. Some modern-day writes that really inspire me are Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire, Jasmin Kaur, and Pavana Reddy.
Tell us about the relationship between you Sikh/Punjabi background and your art?
There is no way I can ever separate my work from my identity - it just does not work for me. What I mean by this is that sometimes I will be writing about an unrelated topic but will somehow find myself making references to my identity of a Panjabi Sikh woman. Some of my favourite works are the ones that are written about my identity of a Kaur!
How do you find showcasing your creation?
I used to be very nervous up until a year ago to put any of my work out there for the world to see. I feel like I am more confident with my work now and I also have managed to realize that I write for myself first and that anyone else comes second.
Tell us about a particularly popular creation and why you feel it was so appreciated.
One of my most popular creations is my poem titled To my father, Guru Gobind Singh (image will be included). This is actually my favourite poem of all time and I feel that it was so appreciated because it speaks to a lot of sikh youth who might be feeling unworthy. I wrote it at a time when I was feeling very low and this poem still serves as a reminder of who I am and where I come from.
Tell us about your debut poetry book Phulkari. What was the process of compiling it together? How did you select which poetry to include and which to leave out?
Phulkari is an idea I have had for years and with maharaj's kirpa, I was finally able to share it with the world in July. I had been compiling poems for years and selected poetry based on what went with the themes that reflect the chapters.
What was the process behind naming the different chapters of the book the way you have?
I wanted to make sure that all the chapters connected with the concept of Phulkari, while also reflecting the theme of that particular chapter, eg. "The Fraying" is about breaking, "Thread and Needle" is about my panjabi roots.
How do you look to improve as an artist?
I acknowledge that I can always improve my writing so I am constantly getting feedback from people. Also, I have realized that I don't always have to be writing for an audience; I am constantly writing to practice and grow.
What do you do to relax?
Writing is the biggest way I relax! Other than writing, I also love to sit down and read a good book. I feel like words have always been a big part of my healing and self-love.
If you could showcase your work anywhere in the world, where would you do it and why?
I would actually love to come to the UK as I have so many people there who support and read my work! I have been across Canada and the States so it would be really dope to connect with a different community of Sikhs.
Where can people find out more about your work?
All information about my work, Phulkari, future events, social media and bookings can be found on www.harmankaur.ca.
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