Nupur Azadi Saraswat - Birther of Theatrical Poetry, Founder of Therapy Fund

I’m Nupur!
I’m a theatrical poet. What that really means is that, about 3 years ago I created a whole new genre of art and expression which is called Theatrical poetry. It's made of spoken word, theatre, music, movement and they all come together to bring this one experience which is called theatrical poetry.

When were you first introduced to poetry? Did you write as a child?
I wrote for as long as I can imagine, but of course, like all desi parents do, you go to engineering school first, before you decide to actually do whatever it is you want to do. So, I did that whole thing. But, I always..I always knew as long as I remember. I knew that I have words in me, words move me, when I listen to a song, I listen to words when I look at a painting, I think of it in terms of words. So words are sort of like, what have made me who I am, and lived with me and always have.

How did you get started as a poet?
I grew up in Singapore and I think I got started, initially, and as any artist in today’s day and age would refuse to admit, with slam poetry. Slam poetry is my gateway into actually finding myself on the stage, to communicate, without constantly doubting myself. I started out in this underground cafe/ bar called “Blue Jazz”, and it fostered so many artists, it still does. Any famous artist that you can imagine from Singapore has done stand up comedy, slam poetry, music in that dingy room.

Where do you derive inspiration for your poetry? What is the process like?
I don't think I would like to think of it as inspiration that I’m deriving but more like, “What am I questioning today?” What roles, what social contracts I have gotten into that I’m questioning today.

Have you faced a ‘Creative block’?
I think you’ll hear a lot of artists say this, that, when they’re happy, they can’t write. However strange that sounds, and how much ever I disagree with it, it's true. I have experienced creative blocks especially when I was in very happy

Tell us about the Therapy Fund. What led you to do work towards mental health?
Therapy Fund started right at the, sort of, glimpse of the second wave of COVID in India which is not the same as around the world like it was probably into 3rd, 4th waves everywhere else. Therapy Fund came from a place of knowing that we need professionals to step in and be able to kind of take some of this burden off us or atleast help us deal with it. And it was monumental what it did for people. People started reaching out. I think one episode that I kind of want to talk about is, I had somebody reach out to me, we had collected about Rs.20,000/- and said go to therapy, send us the invoice, we’ll pay for this. The fund grew marginally after that. In that time, people were also reaching out saying, “Can I have some of this?” and somebody reached out and said “I need it” but I don't think, or I don’t know if I need it as badly as others do. So if you can, it’s just..I’m alone, that’s it. There’s nothing more. I’m not suicidal, I’m not depressed, I’m just alone.
And I read the message, I cried, I cried so hard. Knowing that there’s somebody out there, there’s so many of us out there and we’re not able to call our sadness, sadness because we feel it's nothing compared to what others were going through because of course we were going through nothing , at least in my lifetime that we’ve seen.  

What, according to you, are the most important elements of good writing/ poetry?
There’s a very simple test which is, the test of time. Does it stand the test of time?
Even for your own work, it's a good gauge. To not do this right now, and just be like “Oh, will this be relevant in five years?” You can’t say. You have to go five years later and say “Is this relevant right now?”.

Which is your favorite piece of poetry and why?
I wanted to bring Leonard Cohen into this gathering as I feel like he’s been very important for my journey.
It’s called “You have loved enough.”

I said I'd be your lover, You laughed at what I said
I lost my job forever, I was counted with the dead
I swept the marble chambers, But you sent me down below
You kept me from believing, Until you let me know 
That I am not the one who loves, It's love that seizes me
When hatred with his package comes, You forbid delivery
And when the hunger for your touch, Rises from the hunger
You whisper, you have loved enough, Now let me be the lover
And when the hunger for your touch, Rises from the hunger 
You whisper, you have loved enough, Now let me be the lover
I swept the marble chambers, But you sent me down below
You kept me from believing, Until you let me know
That I am not the one who loves, No, it's love that chooses me
When hatred with his package comes, You forbid delivery
And when the hunger for your touch, Rises from the hunger
You whisper, you have loved enough, Now let me be the lover
How would you describe your personal style?
I like to stay close to floral prints, fire, but like, the color that it lends. So, you’ll find flowers in what I wear, you’ll find flowers in where I live. There’s a lot of flowers that surround me.

How do you resonate with Teejh?
I did not know I’d look good in silver. I think that’s really just it. I think it's very interesting that I can pair that with literally anything, it works. It creates a very dynamic look. I think that’s very interesting for me when I want to find myself not caged in one particular aesthetic and I can be explorative and dynamic in the way I look. So yeah, I think it's for me. 

What does the future look like for Nupur?
I know that I was made to travel, I’m going to be on the road. My future looks like doing shows and speaking to people all over the world. So the future for Nupur looks like, one that is bereft of compromise, is full of personal liberties that are not restricted by a fear of safety or the fear of being judged or discriminated against. It looks like a beautiful huge garden full of flowers of a lot of different colors and a bright sun shining.

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