BY MARIA FERNANDES
A TYBA student of Psychology at St Xavier’s College, Mapusa, Luanna has been writing since the age of seven. Her first attempt at poetry was ‘My House’. Recognising her talent and in an attempt to encourage the budding writer-daughter, her parents got her poem to appear in the local daily. “Writing came naturally to me,” she reminisces, “I did not make a conscious effort to sit and write; words just flowed and I penned it down.” Quoting Wordsworth she says, “Poetry is a spontaneous flow of powerful emotions, recalled in tranquillity according to the great poet and to this I add, that it has to be edited.”
Her collection, A Face in the Crowd, took a little more than three years as it had to be edited and re-edited. Explaining the title of her book she says, “The title can be taken in any way the reader perceives. It could mean a unique face or just another ordinary person.” Following in the steps of her favourite poet Robert Frost who used everyday words to describe everyday experiences, she uses simplicity in her poetry. “Simple words deeper feeling, that’s how I write poetry and I feel it would be better to understate than overstate,” she says.
Almost always using quatrains, Luanna writes from her heart. “I write whatever I feel and do not compel myself to follow any rigid form or style and this just seems to work best for me,” she states. Drawing inspiration from everyday life, her poems are about romance, nature and thoughts and values, her favorite however being nature. “I get inspiration from everything and sometimes nothing seems to work. At times when I am sitting in the classroom for a (boring) lecture, my mind wanders and I get an idea for a poem,” she confesses laughing.
To make sure she doesn’t miss any ideas she always carries with her, her little diary. “If by chance I do not have my diary handy, I always have my phone because sometimes an idea can suddenly come to you and then before you know it and write it down it disappears,” she says. Like we are all very aware, poetry is not all about ideas; it also involves applying the same to words. “It gets very frustrating when you have an idea but cannot express it properly in words and other times the words just tumble over each other in quick succession. ‘Sounds of Yesterday’, my favourite poem in the book, was written from Campal to Mandovi Bridge in less than five minutes,” she recalls.
Besides Robert Frost, she likes reading Walt Whitman, C S Lewis, Cecilia Ahern, Spohis Kinstella and Khaled Hosseini. “Reading has always been my passion and I cannot remember myself without holding a book. I just have to read. At present I also like reading sci-fi and chicklit (romance novels). Reading I believe expands the mind and gives you ideas to write, create characters or plots or even knowing how to use words appropriately. Here I would also like to add that reading quality matter does not necessarily mean you will become a good writer, there has to be talent and a desire to write.”
Talking about getting her book published, she says, “I had a great deal of support from my family, friends and teachers. Selsa Lopes, my teacher from Don Bosco, introduced me to the Goan Poet’s Association and from there to the Directorate of Art and Culture where my book was reviewed and later was funded for publishing. It was definitely a good feeling getting it published but for me the real test will be how many books get sold. Also genuine feedback from readers is what I really look forward to.”
For someone who is interested in writing, Luanna’s choice of subject in her final year is very puzzling. When asked why she chose Psychology over English literature, pat came her reply, “I don’t like studying and taking up the subject would mean I would begin to dislike it.” Her future plans include research in Psychology and hopes to get admission in a prestigious college in the country. “The human mind has always fascinated me and the subject is so interesting that you can never really get bored,” she states.
At present, she is working on her novels but refrains from disclosing any information about them. “They are still in the initial stages and once they start to take concrete shape, I will be at ease speaking about them.” Well, whatever her future endeavours, going by her recent book, I am sure success will definitely follow!
(Luanna’s book ‘A Face in the Crowd’ is available at Broadway and St Paul’s at `70.)