Interview With Patricia Maria de Souza
We met the writer of Saga Seeds, Patricia Maria de Souza in her humble abode in the corner of Teachers’ Estate. Just 10 minutes away from our office in Thomson, the houses sit on streets aptly named after scholars and polymaths. In Patricia’s home itself, the atmosphere is all kinds of serene and nurturing; the shelves are embellished with paraphernalia of Patricia’s travels, and we peruse them as we are served warm pomegranate tea. Outside, the rain caresses the residents’ gardens.
It’s hard not to feel at ease. With a writing environment like hers, it’s no surprise thatSaga Seeds is what it is: gentle, simple and most of all, earnest.
What are some of your strange writing habits?
Well, I will write on whatever material I have with me, if I don’t have paper. I write at odd times—whenever an idea strikes me. Sometimes I may be in a bus, or whenever I’m just walking along and I have to stop for a while when I see something interesting or something that strikes me. A very long time ago I attended a writing workshop and the one thing that struck me most is that you have to put down your writing ideas because ideas come and they go very fast. If you don’t put them down, they’re gone.
Where do you normally draw inspiration from?
First thing would be nature, then things that happen on a daily basis. Like in the poem I wrote, “Simple Folk”, I observed a lot. I know that sometimes it’s not easy doing a very mundane job—take a hawker, or a vegetable seller; day in and day out she would have to lay out all of her goods but she’ll do it with a smile. I think people generally, they form the bulk of the poems that I write.
If you could describe your latest collection of poetry in just one word, what would it be?
In Saga Seeds your work involves a whole lot of particularity and familiar places. Is there a reason why?
Well, in “Teachers’ Estate”, because I live here. In certain places I’ve visited, I found something striking. Or maybe something that really evoked in me a response to nature, like watching a sunrise or sunset… a lot of it is my interest in these natural things and natural beauty.
What is your favorite poem out of Saga Seeds?
There are a lot! So difficult to choose (laughs). There are different types of poems; some are poems of people, places, things I’ve read in the newspaper and I’ve made a poem out of it. It’s quite hard to say which one is a particular one that I like, but maybe the one that I remember as being something very beautiful is “Paradise Discovered”. It was a very good experience for me and my husband and my children. It is such a beautiful view. Every time I look at the poem I can remember it.
What do you hope your readers will feel after reading Saga Seeds?
Depending on the reader, I would say for the older folk if they read, probably they’ll remember the experiences they’ve had when they were young. For the younger reader, perhaps they’ll look at the things that we—the older generation—have experienced and maybe think about what their experiences are and compare them to what their parents have. Also there are poems which I would like them to reflect on, and perhaps evoke a response.
We’ve read that you’ve written a lot of things. Do you find it difficult to transform from one mode of writing to another—from stories, to travel writing, to poetry?
I actually started from children’s stories, and then I went on to this workshop in New Delhi for writers and there I was told “All of you should go back and write a travel article, because a writer cannot live on books.” You have to have a day job. Then I thought, well, why not? I was very happy that the first time I wrote, it came out to about 1000 words, and the editor at that time just took it in its entirety, which is what they don’t do now; it has to be about 500 words. From there I still wrote stories for children, because I was teaching at a primary school at that time, but I had moved on to secondary school. Moving on also meant that I also had to change. I still like writing stories for little ones, and poems also, but I enjoy the challenge of writing for older kids as well as for adults. The travel articles were because we went for trips and it was a way of remembering what we went through and getting to know more about the places we went to, because I would have to do more research for that particular place.
Saga Seeds is available for purchase at BooksActually, Booktique, Books Kinokuniya, MPH, and here.