Wednesday, March 1, 2023



NilavroNill Shoovro

Talking With Poet


MARCH 2023

NILAVRONILL: Why do literature and poetry in particular interest you so much? Please give us some idea about your own perception of literature or poetry in general.

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: I became fascinated with poetry when I was around ten years old.  I got strong feelings from what I read. By age eleven I was writing poetry. No doubt it was bad but one has to start somewhere. I had severe anxiety issues and had trouble expressing myself out loud, luckily, I had found a quiet way to express myself.  Classmates passed my poems around and seemed to like them. I kept writing and improving. My first publication was in our college magazine and I began submitting to other magazines after that.  I learned not to let rejections stop me and kept submitting.  I started being published on a fairly regular basis because I kept writing and submitting. Of course, I read a lot of poetry. I wasn’t interested in forcing myself into antique forms but I was always aware of rhythm and sound, the music of poetry.

NILAVRONILL: How do you relate your own self existence with your literary life in one hand, and the time around you, in the other.

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: Now I have the freedom to live a creative life. Having lived a long while I feel I have more perspective on all the observations that filter through me. When I was working full time as a hospice nurse, producing weekly interview shows, making sculptures and being politically active, I still wrote. My writing was probably more immediate, probably more intense.

NILAVRONILL: Do you believe creative souls flourish more in turmoil than in peace?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: No, not particularly. Turmoil may cause writing to be more intense and cathartic but a writer writes regardless. 

NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology the dimensions of literature have been largely extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: Yes, with the internet we are suddenly available around the world.  I’ve heard there are programs that write poetry but to me, that takes away the reason for writing it. The conjuring and placing of words from one’s own being seems to me to be the reason for writing. You learn about yourself and clarify your views of the world. I don’t think a program can do that.

NILAVRONILL: Now, in this changing scenario we would like to know from your own life experiences as a poet, writer and a creative soul: How do you respond to this present time?


BELINDA SUBRAMAN: I create. In some ways it’s daring to face yourself this way.  To face blank paper and see what flows is also exciting. I paint about as much as I write these days.  It keeps me sane and hopeful about life.  All of my experiences and observations synthesize in surprising ways. I think I grow and heal through the creative process.


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality? And is this an incentive for or an obstacle against becoming a truly international writer?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: As a product of our environment we can’t help but write from what we know.  This is why it is so important to learn of other cultures, to travel, to read and understand other customs.  That doesn’t mean that you will write as if you were a native of another country but it will broaden your perspective and empathy toward other cultures. “Nationality" and politics are often used to divide us. In some ways we are different but, in many ways, we are the same.

NILAVRONILL: Now, if we try to understand the tradition and modernism, do you think literature can play a pivotal role in it?  If so, how? Again, how can an individual writer relate himself or herself to the tradition and to modernism?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: Literature can be a bridge across generations. We will always have traditions which honor those who came before us but it is important to move forward. Everything changes and and it’s best to adapt to the times.

NILAVRONILL: Do you think literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry?


BELINDA SUBRAMAN: Guidance is good especially if you start out young. No one can tell you what you meant to say. If a poem doesn’t speak to a lot of people or it’s been rejected many times, it must need work.  Often part of the poem is still in our heads and we didn’t get it down on paper like we thought we did. I think re-reading and editing your own writing after it has sit for a while is the best teacher.

NILAVRONILL: Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet, or your poetry altogether?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: Largely, I suppose.  It helps if you jar yourself out of routine, have new experiences, challenge yourself, travel, study and absorb philosophy. It will give your writing depth and be more meaningful to more people, I think.  That’s what I hope I’ve done.

NILAVRONILL: Do you think people in general actually bother about literature?  Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: People seem to assume that more people were interested in literature in the “good old days.”  It probably hasn’t changed that much. Granted, before radio, TV and the internet perhaps more people read books but that doesn’t mean they read great literature. (In those days fewer people could read). In general, writers are probably more interested in reading. I suspect it’s mostly poets who read poetry.

NILAVRONILL: We would like to know the factors and the peoples who have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life.

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: I never had a mentor. I suppose whatever I was reading or whatever was happening in the world or to me filtered through. My biggest encouragement was being published by people who did not know me but liked my work.


NILAVRONILL: How would you evaluate your contemporaries and what are your aspirations for or expectation from the younger generation?


BELINDA SUBRAMAN: The path to publication is easier now. I started publishing a magazine and chapbooks for others in the 80s. We had to put our money down for a press run and as a matter of honor we always sent at least one contributor copy.  Considering it an investment, we may have been more selective in what we published then, but maybe not.  Things have changed so much. There was more burden on the publishers then. Now a lot of magazines charge for reading your work and you usually have to buy your own copy of what you appear in if you want to see it.  I’m still adjusting.

NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past, and is still suffering around the world. We all know it well. But are you hopeful about our future?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: It depends on what day you ask.  Suffering and wars are in every generation and people always think things were better “way back when.” True, with massive over-population and the threat of nuclear war, annihilation is always looming in the background. With the proliferation of guns and mass shootings in all kinds of public places, at least in the States, personal annihilation also looms in the background.  So, it’s up to each of us to do the best we can each day, to be kind and responsible for our own actions. As much as possible I try to “Be here Now” and not worry about the past or future. And, keep writing.

NILAVRONILL: What role can literature in general play to bring a better day for every human being?

BELINDA SUBRAMAN: Literature is like taking a trip to another land or another world. It can relieve stress. It gets us out of a rut. It expands our imaginations.  It’s luxury without expense (well, except the price of the book!).

BELINDA SUBRAMAN had a ten-year run editing and publishing Gypsy Literary Magazine 1984-1994. She edited books by Vergin' Press, among them: Henry Miller and My Big Sur Days by Judson Crews. She also published Sanctuary Tape Series (1983-89) which was a mastered compilation of audio poetry and original music from around the world. Earlier is this century she had a podcast interview show that was broadcast on three internet stations. A few of the shows are preserved here: HTTPs:// In 2020 Belinda began an online show called GAS: Poetry, Art & Music which features interviews, readings, performances and art show in a video format available free at  An online journal by the same name is here: Belinda is also a mixed media artist. Her art has been featured in Beyond Words, Epoch, Flora Fiction, Unlikely Stories, Eclectica, North of Oxford, Raw Art Review, El Paso News, Litterateur RW, Setu, Texlandia, The Bayou Review, Red Fez, Chrysalis, Maintenant 16 and many others.  Recently she won 2nd Place in the Sun Bowl Exhibit, the longest running art show in the Southwest (since 1949). She sells prints of her work in her Mystical House Etsy shop.


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