Rochelle Potkar agrees that poetry can be incomprehensible and that she’s quite surprised to be a poet herself. “I did advertising and an MBA. A copywriter was as close as I could get to being a poet,” laughs the 35-year-old.
As a fiction writer, Rochelle said she realised that we consume a lot of stories:
“It’s like food,” and poems, she says, “are like fine, distilled water; something that’s necessary.” According to her, poetry can be recited in any tone, irrespective of how it’s written. “Poetry has abstract metaphors and it’s more of a philosophical contemplation; it’s the language of your dreams. While fiction is concrete; you know what is going to happen.”
Rochelle’s tryst with poetry began seven to eight years ago when poet Ranjit Hoskote invited her to do a reading at Kala Ghoda 2009.
“I told him I was not a poet. But he had gone through my blog and told me that my prose-poetry was good enough. That’s when I realised that they were more than just rhythmic prose entries,” she says. Placed alongside poets such as Arundhathi Subramaniam, Jeet Thayil, Jerry Pinto and others, Rochelle says that the experience was unbelievable.
Rochelle admits that she followed fiction till 2012, but it was the conscious thirst that brought her back to poetry. And in 2013, her poem Knotted Inside Me was one of the eight shortlisted long poems for The RaedLeaf Poetry India Award. “I realised that both poetry and I liked each other in tandem. While fiction is my first love, poetry loves me back. I humbly accept her now.”
Rochelle, who was a content writer seven years ago, says that writing is now a full-time job, “I treat it as a day to be earned with words.” Some of the recurring themes in her poems are motherhood, love and socio-anthropology.
“Women poets have an edge; we touch finer nuances in our poems. Not to be gender-biased, but it’s like the difference between a male and a female parent,” she says.
Born in small-town Kalyan, Rochelle Potkar moved to Mumbai in 1998 which she realised was a small town in a large world. Her writing, she says, has be
come clearer from what it was seven years ago. “It has become more aspirational but when that happens, a certain amount of disillusionment also creeps in. My voice has certainly become strong; that is most important.” Her stories have appeared in Far Enough East , Sein und Werden , The Medulla Review , The Nassau Review , Women Writers , among other publications. Her poems have appeared in The Brown Boat , The Finger Magazine , and Haibun Today (forthcoming). She is also the author of The Arithmetic of breasts and other stories . Her next book, Dreams of Déjà vu is a speculative novel.
Rochelle will read in MCC at 10 a.m. and in Asan Memorial at 12 p.m. on December 3 and at 12.30 p.m. in Ethiraj College and 5 p.m. at British Council on December 4. For details about the Poetry with Prakriti Festival, visit www.prakritifoundation.com