An Interview with Vivek Shraya, Room's 2018 Poetry Judge

Interview by 
Nav Nagra
An Interview with Vivek Shraya, Room's 2018 Poetry Judge

Vivek Shraya is an artist. Fluent in many mediums including music and the written word, Shraya is also Room’s 2018 poetry contest judge, the author of even this page is white, She of the Mountains and her upcoming book I’m Afraid of Men. Shraya released her album Part-Time Woman in 2017 and is one half of the music duo Too Attached, who blew the roof off Room Magazine’s Growing Room 2018 Festival Launch Party earlier this year. I had the pleasure of meeting the powerhouse that is Vivek Shraya at that launch party and jumped at the chance to speak with her again.

ROOM: You work in so many different creative mediums, what is it about poetry to draws you?

VS: I formally came to poetry when I wanted to make art about racism and white supremacy. Unlike other mediums, I loved that poetry didn't demand answers from me. Instead, it allowed me to ask questions.

ROOM: Who are your influences in poetry?

VS: Amber Dawn and Leah Horlick were huge inspirations and supporters when I was writing my first collection, even this page is white. Most recently, I fell in love with There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker.

ROOM: Your new book, I'm Afraid of Men, is coming out this fall. It deals with imposed masculinity from a young age. How did you find the exploration of such a deep-set experience?

VS: Truthfully, it was a challenging experience, one that impacted even my subconscious state. I often had dreams of being violently attacked by men in the writing process.

ROOM: How has being an artist formed the topics that you explore?

VS: It’s often the other way around. For me, creation begins with trying to discern how best to turn the ideas/topics I am interested in exploring into art.

ROOM: On top of all your amazing projects, you also have an imprint with Arsenal Pulp Press called VS. Books. Can you tell us a bit about that?

VS: VS. Books is a publishing and mentorship opportunity for a BIPOC writer between the ages of 18-28. Writers are invited to sent me a complete manuscript in almost any genre, and the selected writer will work with me for a year on their book until it’s published through the imprint.

ROOM: Can we just talk for a second about how amazing the I'm Afraid of Men remix featuring Peaches is! How did that come about?

VS: The upcoming book actually emerged from a song with that same title that was on my 2017 album, Part-Time Woman. I wanted to explore a more aggressive side of the song and wanted this remix to feature another woman, for a different perspective and energy. Peaches was my #1 dream for the track and to my surprise, when I asked her if she was interested. she said yes!

ROOM: What’s the best or worst advice you’ve gotten as a poet?

VS: Play around with not using punctuation.

Enter Room's poetry contest before July 15, 2018!

Nav Nagra is an editorial board member at Room. She most recently edited issue 40.3 "Migration."

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