CHENNAI: Sharanya Manivannan and Thara Ganesan are two authors from the city who have carved a niche for themselves. The writers belong to two different generations and reflect the true potential of women writers today.
Sharanya Manivannan, whose first book of poems titled Witchcraft was published in 2008, says, “Writer is a term that sufficiently covers all the genres I work in. At the moment, I am deeply immersed in fiction. My affections are fluid – if you had asked me five years ago, I would have said poetry was my main squeeze. I wonder what I’ll say if you ask me again in two years.”
Asked about what prompts her to write a story, she says, “Whatever compels me in life is also what shows up in my work. I am obsessive, I enjoy research, and I listen to my heart. I very much march to my own drum, with a few rare exceptions.” Sharanya was recently commissioned to write and perform a new poem for the Commonwealth Day Observance in Westminster Abbey, London.
According to the multifaceted Thara Ganesan, who is a Tamil poet, bilingual translator and artist, “Being a poet is a feeling of elation, exuberance and effervescence. There is nothing called English poet or Tamil poet. A poet is a poet is a poet.”
Despite noticing a splurge in readership in the city, she says that readership for poetry is limited. She says that there are considerably less audience in poetry reading sessions or poetry book release functions, when compared to others, most of whom are repeated audience. She adds that it is important that the scenario changes.
What is their comment on the issue of censorship that plagues many writers in the country, thereby restraining their creative license. Both Thara and Sharanya are of the opinion that it becomes extremely difficult for art to thrive in situations which constrain a writer’s thinking. Thara says, “In such chained conditions, how would any form of art flourish? Probably, there is a need for redefining censorship without causing detrimental effects on the writer/poet or society at large.”
For these writers, articulating a woman’s standpoint through literary work holds atmost importance. Sharanya says, “One thing that I think about, every single day of my life, is how blessed I am to be alive in a time in which one can be both literate and a woman.”
Thara adds, “Let us not discriminate a writer as man and woman because ultimately ‘expression’ is beyond gender.”