We asked a young writer about writing, performing and where she takes her romantic walks.
Have you ever found yourself to suddenly have an hour to spend whether it’s indoors or out in the streets, parks or inside a commuting train? What would you do during that period? Would you sleep, watch the television for a nonsensical show or would you read? This is where writers come in as they craft their way to be a part of your day through their work and young writer, Arisha Rozaidee has written and published poems to be immersed by readers in less than an hour. Twenty-year old Arisha can be found in a colourful and quirky getup (sometimes in a turban or simply a long head scarf) performing spoken word at open mikes whenever she isn’t doing her homework while she studies for her BA in English at the prestigious University of Malaya. Her writings were first published by indie publishing house, Poket Press which introduced us to her debut, The Prisoner of Sorrow and since then, Arisha has gone on to feature two of her poems on the second episode of the PoetX podcast and wrote her second book, Sandpaper Heart. Arisha confessed that she’s easily distracted and when not writing, she would take romantic walks in the grocery store. We sat down with the writer and found out about her favourite writers, what she does during her writing process as well as her counsel on emerging writers.
1) When did you began identifying yourself as a writer?
Although I was first published when I was 16, I still struggle to identify myself as a writer especially on the days I don’t write at all. Sometimes those days stretch into weeks or months. But I wrote my first accidental poem that got attention when I was in high school. Someone tweeted a link of my blog and I got so much traffic that night, and then I thought, “Oh… so that was a poem…”
2) Who are the writers that you look up to?
I’ve always looked up to our local spoken word expert, Jamal Raslan. When I was 16, I was this shy and nervous girl who went up to him as a huge fan, and now we hang out together and play card games, it’s unbelievable. I love being able to ask for his personal opinions on my poetry because I still have great respect for him as a writer. Another writer that keeps me going is my drama lecturer, Mohd Adlan Ramly who wrote the book, Boxless. He’s a cool and profound dude who has always urged me to utilise my full potential in writing poetry and he is one of the people who inspire me the most, not only in writing, but life in general. And Rudy Francisco. Definitely Rudy Francisco.
3) How was the journey of writing and publishing Sandpaper Heart?
Writing it was emotional. But it served as a great outlet for me. And the publishing journey, I can’t say how grateful I am to have supportive parents. They funded me, drove me to the printer, and without them it definitely wouldn’t have happened. Also I owe a big thank you to Shannon Chan for the art and Nazhan Nazhar who helped out big time with the layout. And great friends who could’ve read my poetry for free but bought the book anyway.
4) Do you have a playlist that you listen to while writing? If you don’t, what helps you in your writing process?
I have a lot of playlists but, none for writing. Long showers help me the most when writing a new piece. Also, I think I write better when I’m using a 0.7mm black gel pen. Though, I use the cheap ones.
5) Do you have any advice for rising and striving writers out there?
Never let anything or anyone intimidate you. Not even yourself. On the hard days, know that you can put down a piece and get back to it whenever you feel like it. Always remember that you’re in control and the page and stage is a safe space. Write to express, not impress.
15th of February will mark a year since Sandpaper Heart was first published and you can get your copy by ordering from Arisha’s personal twitter account, @ArishaRozaidee because she likes the intimacy between her and her readers and being able to send a small token of her writings to farther states like Kelantan, or Johor Bahru. You can also catch up with Arisha who will be performing at Jack It!: An Open Mic Vol. 6 on 14th of February at Minut Init.
Featured image; Arisha Rozaidee during Poetically Correct at Arts for Grabs 2015.