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  • Writer's pictureChristine Latif

Artist Feature - Adrija Jana

Hello artists, and welcome to another artist feature. This week, we are featuring Adrija Jana. She is a passionate writer based in India. She mostly creates poetry pieces based on her personal experiences as well as social issues she is passionate about. Her work mostly revolves around protest against period poverty, marital rape and advocating for freedom of choice, apart from emotional self-lived experiences. She is inspired by writers such as Margaret Mitchell and Nayirrah Waheed, as well as the minutiae of everyday life. Apart from being a writer, Adrija is also a spoken word artist, theatrecian, filmmaker, and creative researcher, and all her work is woven together by common themes. She believes that creative pieces that let the innate imperfection shine through truly touch hearts. Now that you have gotten to know Adrija a little more, let's get into the interview.

1. How did you first get into music, art, or spoken word?

The journey began in Grade 3, when reading about my country's nationalist movement for independence inspired me to write my first poem. I never stopped writing since then, but up until senior school, I was very shy and afraid to go up on stage to perform alone. But in Grade 9, my English teacher convinced me that this was something I should try, and her faith in me inspired me to take a challenge. The first time I performed a piece on stage, the rush of power I felt within me, knowing that my voice was being heard, and the satisfaction I felt afterwards, knowing what I had to say was out there in the world, was overwhelming, in a good sense. I realised later on that my voice could make a difference in the world, and maybe even inspire others to raise theirs, and that's how I started my spoken word journey.

2. Who or what are your biggest inspirations that motivate you to create art or write music?

First, my mother. Her entire journey inspires me. She got married at a very young age, had me and my siblings, and was compelled to devote herself entirely to family life. She had to make great sacrifices, but never for once did she break down or give up. After we grew up, she started her own business to become self-reliant. After the national movement, it was her struggles that I expressed through my poetry. She is a living example of the heights one can scale if they persist. Second, it is the issues in my society that I'm passionate about. I write about Period Poverty and menstrual stigma because they are two of the biggest detriments to the collective progress of our society. I write about what I see around me, and what I wish would change. Third, split second impressions. A speck of dust, a ray of light, a few notes of music, a bit of conversation- all have inspiration for one or the other of my creative pieces. I write because it makes me feel free.

3. How do you plan on using your art and music to spread awareness or make a difference in the world?

I consider myself to be not only a creative artist, but also a creative activist, because art is my way of protesting against injustice. One day, when I finally came to know why we heard screams from our neighbours - domestic violence - I encompassed the pain I felt from every scream in a poem ("Scream of Silence"), and I shared it with people around me, reading it our at events, online offline. I was surprised when it actually had some effect- neighbours who were earlier feigning ignorance now started to enquire about the screams, and our neighbour- she ultimately received the support she needed to come out of the abusive situation. Then again, one day, a relative tried to impress upon my sister why she should not wear "manly shirts" but instead should wear "girly skirts." She tried to scare her by saying that she would never married at this rate. The next day I invited our relative to a poetry reading of mine, where I presented a poem on the freedom of choice crafted especially for her ("Feminine"), and I haven't heard of her similarly advising another young lady since. I realised at an early age, instead of arguing or screaming, you can truly get your message across only when you do something that stays on in the mind of the person in front. And for me, poetry and spoken word are the tools that help me express my point of view, that help me point out what is right in front but everyone is blind to, and yes, it has had an impact.

4. What is your favorite piece of poetry that you have written so far?

My favourite piece of poetry so far is "Pressed for Time." It was written in five minutes inspired by a conversation I had had with my mother.

5. What are your current or future goals with your art, music, and spoken word?

As of now, I want to continue to improve on how I present my pieces and to build on my unique voice, that identifies a work as mine. I would also like to explore many other forms and genres of poetry. Monetization of my work, though helpful, has not and never will be my goal. All I wish for is to be able to continue raising my voice for the world to hear as I have been able to with the help of organisations as the Diana Award Winning "Empower" Magazine and "The Colorization Collective."

6. If you had the opportunity to spend a day with your favorite artist or musician, who would it be and why?

I would like to spend my day with my absolute favourite contemporary poet of color, Nayirrah Waheed. Their fearlessness and the boldness with which they strike at the core of society's issues really inspire me. The pieces in their poetry collection, "Salt," have given me the courage to write many of own pieces I was uncertain about. As not much is known about them, I would really like to spend a day with them to explore their creative process.

7. Do you have any advice or tips for people that are interested in music and art?

Creating poetry, spoken word, or any other creative or performing arts, for that matter, I believe, is a journey, it is about the process more than the destination, and the creative process is different for every individual, just like your handprint or dental print. Very important is not to force yourself into anything. Experimentation is fine, but compelling yourself to write or create something will get you nowhere. So believe in yourself, and listen to your heart. If you are in sync with your heart mind and body, whatever you are passionate about will gradually take the form of creative expression. The more natural the process is, the more powerful the piece will be!

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