Junior Sarah Iqbal on publishing poems

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Photo by Asia Acevedo
Photo by Asia Acevedo

“December was hung by a lot of prose,” junior Sarah Iqbal writes. “Ink on paper that tormented me/in all its immeasurable aspects. I could say/pieces of me have occupied so many lined pages/the edges of my left hand have grown accustomed/to being black and blue from all the drained pens/despite me being right-handed.”

Palatable lyricism and introspect on writing isn’t all that is featured in Sarah’s writing, which she publishes on her blog.

 In abundance, you’ll discover pages of poetry and prose (especially of the former). The topics span everything from addiction to suicide, from romantic longing to dysfunctional relationships. If you think you’ve sampled all the shades of Iqbal from her prolific work in last year’s edition of The Phoenix— for which she won first place in the annual poetry contest—then you’d be doing yourself a grave injustice. “A Guide to Loving Yourself,” and “Copper Pennies,” may lovingly transport the reader to sweeter days and idyllic daydreams, but don’t even begin to traverse the depths that “Letters to an Addict” does, for instance.

On the variance of her style, she said, “I went through this ‘love poem’ phase which then turned into an ‘unrequited love’ phase. If you write from a cliché angle that’s been done to death, you can’t do a lot with those themes, but I’ve also written about infertility and abusive relationships, mental illness and growing up. I write mostly about things that I can relate to, but every now and then I’ll do some research to change perspective.”

Sarah spreads her ink through many different themes and many different poetic structures, which can be seen through the 130 or so pieces she published in 2013 alone, motivated by a New Year’s Resolution. On staying disciplined, Sarah advised, “You have to be aware of your habits. I originally wanted to write a poem a day, but sometimes I’m tired, or I have a lot of other work to do, and I just can’t get around to it. Other times, I’ll have the time but my inspiration has run dry. I don’t try to force anything; instead I carry a notebook with me everywhere so I can jot down some notes for later poems as soon as they come to me and work on them later. The most important thing is to not be shy or discouraged, and try to get your work out there as much as possible.”

With a cumulative body of work already beginning to resemble the size of a Charles Dickens novel, one can’t blame her for considering the concept of publication—“I played around with the idea of first,” she said, “but decided there wouldn’t be any point to it right now. I spoke to a publishing consultant and considered self-publishing, but in the end, I’m just trying to get more people to read my writing. It’s better to start off small, so right now I have someone coaching me through cover letters and author biographies while I submit to online journals and literary magazines.”

And while having to pay retail price in order to read her work is inevitability for fans, it should prove a great comfort that the opportunity to experience it is, at least for the moment, as easy as going online.

Check out Sarah’s work on her WordPress blog: http://www.voicilecahier.wordpress.com

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