It is hard to think about literature without culture and culture without literature. In fact, culture has a strong influence on many literary works. Where a writer lives, what languages they are exposed to, and how they interact with various cultures inevitably shape their work. This is all the more true if the writer happens to experience and consciously absorb a melange of cultures.
Wales-based Nia Davies is perhaps one of those poets whose works reflect such transcultural efforts. Ahead of the second edition of Bengaluru Poetry Festival, Davies tells Soulveda about her inspirations, her experimental style of writing and how cultural interactions bring out the poet in her.
You are an English poet with Welsh roots. Could you tell us how exposure to the two languages has influenced your writing?
My mother is Welsh and my father English, but I am not bilingual. Welsh was a complicating, yet beautiful presence in my world, when I was growing up in Sheffield, England. It was within earshot of Welsh that I started playing with English. I can’t yet speak or read well in Welsh, but I am constantly trying, grasping after something that is both a loss and a gift. As a poet writing in English, I don’t have the same challenges as those who write in Welsh, which has a much smaller number of readers and critics than other languages.
“I am enlivened by cultures, languages and experiences that are new to me. I always seem to move towards them.”
Interversions is part of a residency project by Poetry Connections: Literature Across Frontiers, and Wales Arts International. It is a collaboration with Kannada poet Mamta Sagar from Bengaluru.