Welcome back dear readers! We are now on to Sujana Crawford’s seven questions. She shares with us how her favourite books and life experience have shaped the art she creates and made her the woman she is today.
1. Pitch yourself as a writer in seven words.
Stories that spotlight what is brushed aside.
2. What personal creative project are you working on at the moment?
I have been thinking about grief lately – its rhythm, texture, the way it shapes us, etc. – mainly due to some recent personal experiences. I have this urgent pull to capture what I feel, think, and see around me. What I have, so far, is mainly a collection of snapshots in the form of diary-style notes, pictures and short poems. I don’t have any plans at the moment. I am just sitting with it, but it takes up most of my creative energy.
Alongside this, I am working towards a show, Invisible Threads, coming to Warwick Arts Centre in March this year. It’s a performance in which eight women reflect on the journeys that have led to who they are today. We wrote and devised it together, and it’s been an incredibly powerful and positive experience – despite most of us having never acted before! It started as a series of writing workshops that I initially developed and ran during the first lockdown, but it’s now taken on a life of its own and, although daunting at times, I am looking forward to sharing it with the world.
3. Name seven books that are a permanent fixture on your shelf.
This was a tough one! I am one of those annoying people who likes to recommend or reference a book, whatever the situation! I love so many books that picking just seven was hard….but after some thought, I have narrowed it down to the list below. These are books I keep returning to. They have each shaped me into the person I am today.
Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Under My Skin by Doris Lessing
Walking in the Shade by Doris Lessing
all about love by bell hooks
Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna
Tongues of fire by Sean Hewitt
Doris Lessing’s autobiographies helped me make sense of my own life choices. I remember reading them for the first time when going around Rajasthan after what had been an emotionally difficult time and how everything suddenly clicked into place. I know it sounds cheesy, but this sense of calm and self-acceptance washed over me, and it was one of the defining moments of my life. I return to her work whenever I feel lost or need a bit of grounding. Women Who Run With the Wolves helped me realise, in my early 20s, that the rage I felt was justified it wasn’t something to feel ashamed about. bell hooks prompted me to question what I thought I knew about love and what it meant to me. Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna is a beautiful book about the legacy daughters carry from their mothers, and it’s a book I constantly give as a present to my female friends. And finally, Sean Hewitt’s poetry collection contains poems that took my breath away. Reaching the poetic brilliance of this book is one of my life goals!
4. What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading a poetry anthology called Your Family, Your Body. It’s by three poets Malika Booker, Sharon Olds and Warsan Shire. I have this belief that the right books find you at the right time, and this book has done just that. I have only read the first handful of poems, and already they have covered things I have been thinking about – families, grief, loss etc.
I also recently finished reading Ruby Wax’s autobiography, How do you want me? Again, it was a book I impulsively bought after reading an article about the author. And it was just the thing I needed – I laughed, I cried, I grew. It’s a keeper!
5. Borrowing from Hemingway’s concept, but with our thematic twist, tell us a seven-word story.
Mothers find solid common grounds at soft-play.
I spent the afternoon at a soft-play today. I usually hate these play spaces and have liked having a good reason (Covid!) to avoid them over the last two years! But we had a birthday party invite (again, first in two years!) so I didn’t have the heart to say no. Glad I didn’t!
6. This group is named after a bird. If you could spread your wings, take flight, and go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
I struggled with this one too! For someone who never liked being in one place for too long, I find myself surprisingly grounded and content at the moment. It might be my way of coping with all the restrictions during the pandemic. Having said that, if I had to pick a place, I could say Cuba. I’ve felt a pull towards Latin America for a while now. Before the pandemic, I received a travel grant to visit Cuba but haven’t been able to go yet! But I have been taking the time to learn about it, and it’s a fascinating place. I have even been learning Spanish (though very slowly), but I probably wouldn’t need it if I was a bird!
7. Using seven words only, share a golden nugget of writing advice.
Editing poetry is like trimming a hedge.
Thank you very much Sujana. It’s fascinating to see how projects can develop, especially with talented ladies taking the lead!
See you next week lovely readers.