Poster art for Pranav Mishra's upcoming poetry reading at OddBird, New Delhi
The Live Poetry Reading will be hosted at the OddBird Theatre & Foundation in Chattarpur, New Delhi on the 20th of September, starting 8 pm.
Pranav Mishra wears several different hats. All sophisticated and trendy of course, considering he is the co-founder and creative director at his own award-winning fashion label, HUEMN. But as established, that’s just one of his many hats. So when he’s not working on a new luxe sports collection, he’s getting busy being a model himself or giving talks and discussing design. Or a little more out of the way, writing and reading poetry- a lesser known passion that he’s dedicated to and kept alive and well apart from his professional line of work. How he manages to do it, is a whole other story which he shares over a conversation about all things poetry.
'I’ve been writing for quite a while now. It generally kind of started with writing about what I was feeling and I realised that I liked talking about it so that’s when I started with poetry reading.'
He laughs about how it all began for him, his very first poem can be dated back to the eighth grade. 'How it started was actually kind of lame (laughs). I was never that much into sports. I’ve always been more interested in writing and art and other things on the more cultural side. One day this kid in my class reads out a poem about cricket and everybody was just wowed by it. So I thought this was something I’d like to do as well. My dad is a Hindi writer. He’s always supported me…when I think about the first poem I ever wrote, obviously I had no idea what I was doing back then. It was about this guy trapped between laziness and trying to do something, becoming something in his life.' If that isn’t the most relatable thing even to this very day, nothing really can be.
“One day this kid in my class reads out a poem about cricket and everybody was just wowed by it. So I thought this was something I’d like to do as well.”
Turns out everyone in his class loved it then, making it his first of many poems through the years- where his love for writing about stories of his everyday life is just as strong as his wanting to share it with others. Hindi has always been his medium of message and will continue to be for his upcoming poetry reading. It’s the medium he finds perfectly fitting for the more challenging aspects of writing, a feat he feels is not as smooth in a language as direct as English. He further discusses the details of the themes he’ll be covering in the reading, intended as an autobiographical account of muses that range from the women in his life to broken memories. He discusses themes close to his heart and the extent of his experimentation with them.
'I don’t think there is anything else to say. I tend to not romanticise my writing. It is what it is, an account of moments and things and everyday life that I try and write about. And the themes are basically everything and anything that makes me really happy. I don’t plan and write anything. It just sort of happens for me. I tried to experiment but I can only write something when I’m surrounded by madness.' Pranav also considers how it all serves as an outlet for what inspires him the most- 'I feel like there is this chaos in me and reading my poems helps me let all that energy out. What I write is an account of the smaller things that might go unnoticed in everyday life, they’re usually light and not necessarily a dark narrative.'
As far as fashion and poetry go, one can easily argue how both are pretty distinct forms of (self) expression. And for someone already established in the former, the two seem to be equally important for someone who considers himself to have two very distinct sides as well. 'I am an introvert. It’s easy for me to talk about poetry now, because I just had a talk (referring to a stage-talk he’d recently given at a workshop). I feel like there are individuals trapped within me. My friends jokingly tell me the same thing. When it comes to fashion I don’t really like talking about it, it’s a highly visual process. I’m trying to sell something to the people, so for me fashion leans more towards the marketing and creative side. As far as poetry is concerned, I can only write in an intimate space. It’s more for my happiness than trying to sell it to the audience. So they’re both pretty parallel to each other and like you said, are two very different things.'
Even so, their sheer nature doesn’t stop them from being born out of a similar creative process. And while the approach to either of his two passions is dealt with in a surprisingly mundane way, so are the creative blocks. His shared philosophy turns out, isn’t much different from anyone else’s but is definitely what helps inspiration strike for him.
'I usually don’t like to be surreal with my work. Everything is always based in what happens around me. Whenever I have a creative block, I just listen to loud music on my headphones and whatever I come up with comes down on paper. I can never write when I’m stable and most of the time, I write nonsense. Even with fashion, it’s the same. And right now I’m working on a collection. It usually takes two months every year to stack it.'
Moving on to the people that have moved him, there’s just one name that resonates through and through. 'Idol is probably too strong a word. But the closest that comes to it, is definitely Charles Bukowski. There are other writers too, including the likes of Tallest Man on Earth. I’ve read fifteen different books by Bukowski and they’ve all been so amazing. The sheer transparency in his books is unimaginable. It operates at a certain level that I find missing in a lot of others.' The credit for Pranav’s favourite poem of all time also goes to Mr. Bukowski. 'My favourite poem is the first poem that I ever read by him. It’s called Like a Flower in the Rain. It’s about a couple, and the guy narrates a normal, lazy day the two of them spend together. The kind of comparisons that he makes between her body and nature, is a sort of imagery that I absolutely love. It made me wish I could write like that.'
'He used to have these shows, where 70% of the entire duration would just be dedicated to insults. People used to pay to be insulted by him. It was a really new concept back then and sometimes it would start up all sorts of drama between him and a few select (angry) audience members,' he adds when asked about the artist whose poetry reading he’s always wanted to attend as he laughed off the idea of being insulted by Bukowski too.
One can find his Hindi musings and poetry on his blog that he frequently updates and can hear him read them out at readings organised in venues perfect for just that. At the same time, he also ponders over having his words being published some day, an idea he’s all for. And until then, bringing his words to life through tongue-in-cheek humour and passionate wordplay, for people who want to listen, is the route Pranav Mishra plans to be taking in the the long-run.
To read more of Pranav's poetry click here.
Text Shristi Singh