Artist Spotlight: ena ganguly
Who(or what) inspires you?
Nayyirah Waheed was a huge inspiration for me sophomore year of college. Her poetry, especially her book salt., made me realize how I can make my poetry accessible to others. Her poetry also holds such rich depth and width—it showed me I didn’t have to limit myself to one topic, like love or romance.
What are some of your favorite pieces to perform?
Anything about Bengal. I love all my poems on my country.
How do you self-identify and how does that influence your work?
I identify as a Bengali woman. I don’t really identify as much else, probably because I don’t want to get too caught in the semantics of my politics — I want to show, not tell. My work is about feminine vulnerability, displacement, ancestral anger and grief, ancestral wisdom, resistance, and so much more. My writing is about love, queer love, and how to bring the world to its knees, with tenderness and soft love. I believe my identity influences all of that.
As a woman of color, can you describe some of your experiences navigating creative spaces?
It can be very white, which means that not many people understand or relate to it. It goes over their heads. It can also mean that your writing is seen as ‘alternative’, not really worth reading or even picking up to read/listen. On the other hand, I’m also not Black, you know? So what that means is, oftentimes, I’m not sure if I should be in ‘POC’ spaces, how I can center Black poets and writers, what impact my writing will have- both positive and negative. It’s extremely important for NBPOCs to be aware of the ways they’re taking up space, and how to prioritize Black art above all else—I’m still learning how to do that.
Describe your writing process.
I’ll be washing the dishes or riding the bus, and a poem will come to me. Sometimes it’s while I am writing in my journal, or even just talking to someone. I will write it down, rearrange some verses and/or words, read it out loud, read it to someone dear to me whom I trust, then edit it. But I rarely edit my poetry, which is something i want to do more of!
How do you emotionally and mentally prepare for your performances?
I breathe. I ask myself how can I make myself feel at home in this space—sometimes that looks like taking off my shoes, talking to the audience about having a conversation while I read (so they know they can respond to my poetry), and listening to others that come before me and observing how the audience receives them. I also write almost all my poems on paper. It helps me get ready for the performance, as well as makes me feel closer to my poetry. As if we are reconnecting, like old friends do.