In conversation with: Ayu Meutia

So happy to have Indonesian poet, Ayu Meutia in Mumbai. She will be performing on the 8th of July at the WTS Open Mic. We asked her a few questions about her poetry journey and her inspirations.

What does poetry mean to you? 

Poetry for me means self-expression, growth and honesty. I think poetry has helped in many ways to develop myself and exercise my emotions to become a better, more aware human being in general. If not for poetry, I would still be the same person who is too shy to articulate myself. Poetry gives me a certain strength and confidence that I could never find before.

How long have you been writing? Tell us about your poetry journey.

I started since I was a little girl. I loved to write short stories, poems and attempted a novel, but none of them would take off into something. But, professionally, I can say it happened 5 years ago when I graduated from university when I started to send my articles and started a blog.  None of them were poetry related, until I met an aspiring group of poets in Kuala Lumpur while studying in Malaysia. They introduced me to the world of spoken word poetry.

This is the type of writing discipline that I really enjoy exploring. It is somewhat a bit of everything I love : storytelling, poetry and drama. So I began to write more and more, and I said yes to opportunities to perform when I was still in Malaysia. In 2014, I went back home and had the idea to create the same platform for aspiring poets in Indonesia or at least in Jakarta. So on April 2015, together with 3 friends we formed Unmasked Poetry Open Mic. We have been creating events independently and collaboratively for 2 years now. At the same time, I was also gathering my poems and compiling them into an anthology. The anthology was later published as “Tigress” in 2016. I also volunteered at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, an annual literary festival in Ubud, Bali. I was a writer liaison for 2 years and one time, a host. My poems have been featured in The Asian Center of Anthology of Malaysian Poetry in English (Partridge Publishing, 2014), The Murmur Journal Vol.2 : Love and Other Drugs (The Murmur House, 2015) and lastly, Poems and Other Myths (Red Bridge Online, 2016).

What is your creative process? 

I look for inspirations and it does not have to be poetry, sometimes it can be like a movie I watch, a dance routine I see or a song I listen to. But I like to have a long “buffering” process, somewhat like daydreaming, because that is where ideas start flowing.

Who/what inspires you? 

I am inspired by things that move my emotions, it could be a small or big thing. I love to write about love/modern romance, feminism and religious issues as these are the things that I care about. I tend to write when I feel strong emotions, like anger or sadness. When I am happy, I tend to write less!

Advice for aspiring performance poets? 

This is an advice to myself as well. First never stop dreaming and never stop writing. Second, be creative because sometimes writing a poem is not enough, if you want to take your passion to the next level. Make an interesting performance out of your poem, there’s a reason why a poet performs their poems, because the magic lies not only in the beautiful words and meaning, but how we get the audience to believe and transfer them into our story. But most of all, stay persistent. You will be surprised by where the persistence will take you. Keep on learning!

A poetry video or poem you absolutely recommend?

  • #AnchorGoStrong a milk commercial/ad campaign featuring the words of a spokenword artist, Harry Baker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WugQ6bND0nY (As someone who works in advertising and loves poetry, this is a breakthrough!)
  • I have watched too many button poetry videos and I cannot pick which one is my favorite but a friend send me a poem called, People are not Poetry” by Erin Hanson and “Home” by Warsan Shire.
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