F E A T U R E S – P O E T R Y
Upon exploring the world of literature, Shaira Afrida Oyshee fell for the sacred interplay of words and rhythms that exists within poetry, rendering into a poet herself. Shaira Afrida Oyshee, CEO of Dots Publication and a poet herself, talked about the poetry collection, LAMP anthology, Dots is publishing. Shaira, who has also previously published two of her own poetry books — On Days Like This (2018) & All The Quiet Places (2019) — gave an insight into what led to the creation of LAMP and what she hoped to achieve with it during the Q/A session.
She has been working on this initiative to develop and materialise a simple idea of what she thought could provide a platform to the people of different nations — to ignite the living poets within individuals. It was through the mere concept of LAMP Anthology, which is just a handpicked collection of 130 poems out of more than 1500 submissions from all around the globe.
Sultanul: What motivated you to create LAMP in the first place?
Shaira: I realised people are very talented and at the same time, I realised that if we give someone an incentive to work on their craft (added to their own burning desire to create), they would increase their practice and we would have better literature. And if we open that stage to the world, we would be more accepting and be open to new forms of writing, concepts, and perspectives. I realised we were gravely in need of something like LAMP — a reliable, promising direction for readers, budding and established poets from all around the world — to create and appreciate the art.
Sultanul: What do you usually look for when selecting the poems for publication?
Shaira: We look for poems that make us observe and appreciate the world we live in a little bit more. For us, how good a poem is its ability to sustain our attention and make us feel deeply about what it is communicating.
Sultanul: Is there a significance behind the title LAMP?
Shaira: The truth is LAMP is not an acronym. We wanted to say that this is the kind of book you will find beside your lamp on your nightstand.
Sultanul: What makes LAMP so special?
Shaira: LAMP is just a collection of 130 poems handpicked from over 1500 submissions from all over the world, and this year, two selected poets have been deemed LAMP Most Promising Poet Award (which includes a poetry book contract from Dots Publications).
But if you really think about it, LAMP is something people will look forward to from now on. They will sit back to think, “Okay, how do I make my poem better?” They will discuss and share their poems with other poets in LAMP, and critique each other’s work. If you look back at the Lost Generation in Paris, this is how literature and art progresses.
Sultanul: How do you feel about giving an opportunity to thousands of writers/poets to express themselves?
Shaira: I think I did not give them the opportunity to express themselves, they can express themselves with their writing on their internet blogs, or Facebook page by just clicking on the publish button. What I believe we have achieved through LAMP is we have made an actionable system. We didn’t simply go around telling aspiring writers and poets, “You are good at poetry you shouldn’t give up on it”, we sincerely showed them.
The toilsome labour behind publishing a book is but a norm in the society of poets. However, if the book is approved for publication, the sweat and tears don’t weigh much next to the sweetness of the outcome.
The journey towards publication for LAMP Anthology remains the same as any other. Shaira, in addition, shed light into the status quo regarding first publications.
Sultanul: What are the potential issues you have faced, and other emerging writers too, while getting published?
Shaira: The issue in publishing is that it’s usually yes or no. You submit your manuscript to a publisher and get a yes or no answer after months, within these months you wait and more often you get a declined email. What you do later is either you decide you’re not a writer, or chase after more to prove that you are.
I personally feel that there must be a better way. So we opened a simple Facebook group which is called Alive Writer’s Society where fellow writers share their writings, critique each other’s work, share resources (such as lectures, books, courses) from where they learnt to write better or have drawn inspiration from. People behind Dots Publications are also active members of the group! We also have an Alive Writers Society Poetry Podcast to appreciate the poetry of the members.
Sultanul: Will there be similar projects such as LAMP?
Shaira: We are trying to make sure LAMP is an annual poetry collection from Dots Publications. LAMP 2 is already open for submissions. Follow us on Instagram @dots.publications for all instructions!
The interview reached a conclusion, with a touch of neutrality from Shaira herself. Her take on inspirations is, it is subjective to each individual.
Sultanul: Would you like to leave our readers with a takeaway message?
Shaira: I don’t like to give out any motivational quotes, or random words of inspiration, because we are all living such infinitely different lives, but all I can say is try and find your passion by participating in competitions, events, internships, skill tutorials, etc. (I started taking writing seriously after I entered into my college’s annual poetry competition back in 2016.)
If you end up embarrassing yourself, that’s great you tried something new. If you end up loving it, you may have found your passion. I think that’s a pretty calculated risk to take!
LAMP Anthology Volume 1 has been published this year on 27 February and is available for purchase in Bookworm and PBS. LAMP Anthology – Volume 2 is on the making.