Heartlines explores what it means to write – from the heart and soul – and where that writing takes us. Every writers’ journey is different, so we invite you to take a moment to read, pause and reflect on what it means to shape stories for the page.
Lakshmi Kanchi is a writer and a poet writing under the nom de plume, SoulReserve, and has over 1000 pieces of contemporary poetry published on her blog under the same name. Lakshmi’s poetry explores love and its tumultuousness, fantasy and zest in nature, and the inherently complicated, perpetually juxtaposed, staggeringly disjointed relationships – between history, language, culture and perception. Get to know more about Lakshmi below.
What do you do outside of writing? What is your most surprising passion?
Interestingly, to the world outside the writing circle, being a poet is a surprising passion! And I am almost always delighted to introduce myself as such.
Outside of writing, I love expressing myself through eclectic pieces of jewellery and clothes. I have a small but growing collection of minerals that I sometimes write ekphrastic poetry about. I love watercolours and indulge in creating paintings of things. I am developing my skills as a radio presenter and am passionate about training my voice. I absolutely adore my plant babies and my mini-garden of succulents and cacti at home.
Why do you write?
Writing to me is a spiritual calling. I write from a place of truth. I believe that there is a cloud somewhere over my head that is both dense and light and that my soul taps into it from time to time. Words stream down and become poems that leave their traces on pages.
For a long time, I was uncertain and closed and didn’t share my writing with others for fear of being judged or labelled. With time, both my writing and the telling of my story have brought me strength and solace. Today, I write because it is such an essential part of my identity. It has made me who I am. It is a sacred place of comfort and beauty – a sanctuary for my being.
When did you decide to pursue writing and what triggered that decision?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My earliest writing was in journals that I hid around my room. Then finally about seven years ago, with my husband’s encouragement, I created an anonymous online blog where I began to write and post poetry under my pen name – SoulReserve. This blog was the first place where I explored and experimented with words without any restrictions or constraints. I developed my own sense and style of writing here.
My blog is also that space where I mull over things and find meaning. Over the years, it has garnered a tremendous interest (with over 15,000 followers) and I often receive poems, letters, multimedia artworks, sculptures, music, pictures, and paintings crafted in response to my poetry. This, together with the love and support of the Perth poetry and writing community – Perth Poetry Club, Voicebox, WA Poets Inc, South Freo Writers Group and the Centre for Stories – I have great encouragement to continue writing.
What are you currently reading and why?
I am on a quest reading a set of books by Western Australian authors. Of that set, the book that I am reading currently is Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. I am enjoying the vivid imagery inspired by the stark Western Australian landscape and seascape as well as the poetic and immersive quality of his writing.
Is that also an inspiration for your current work?
It is hard to not be inspired! As the book and my reading of it settle inside me, I can feel the ideas begin to collect and the outlines start to develop. Although gaps are looming large and I haven’t caught anything quite as whole yet, I also know that it is a bit too early in my reading right now to know exactly what the outcome would be.
You have been published in multiple journals and have become known in the writing industry – especially the poetry scene. What inspired you to apply for the hot desk? Was the hot desk what you expected? What have you learned in this time?
While I have enjoyed some success with my poetry recently, I am still learning, growing, and emerging. And, as I believe it to be, it is a continuous and iterative process.
As the next stage in my development, I had been looking for a dedicated space and time for writing poetry away from the distractions of everyday life and living. I wanted a place where I could let out all the stories that I was holding inside of me. I found this at the hot desk fellowship along with seamless access to reading materials, resources, workshops, and a caring team who are invested in and concerned about your writing.
It is a nurturing environment here at the Centre for Stories. You can understand just what I mean when you see plants fill up sinks in the kitchen here, being looked after as you enjoy a cuppa. It is a thriving, bustling environment that is in constant flux, but surely no one will be left behind.
Walk us through an ‘aha’ moment while you were hot desking.
What is really exciting about the time I was hot desking is that I managed to carve out an entirely new writing process. This was my aha moment, but I only realised it as such much later.
From the first day when I stepped into the Centre, I knew that I would have to radically change my writing process to meet the expectations that I had of my writing and to do justice to those stories that I wanted told through my poetry.
This was non-fiction poetry – a domain so different from the love and nature poetry that I usually write. I looked into the poetics, theories, and processes that others were employing. I studied how ideas were being conveyed. I attended poetry editing sessions and workshops.
While being meticulous about maintaining the originality of the ideas that I carried, I carefully brought them out into the open, tweaked them, and worked on them over and over again – till they were sharp and succinct. Poems often have a will of their own, and mine now had a voice too. You can hear them loud and clear.
Based on your experiences in the writing industry, including your hot desk at Centre for Stories, what advice would you give to writers who are starting out or are unsure where to start?
To all those starting out I would say that it is a privilege to be a writer and storyteller and all of us writers and storytellers are one big family. Much like everything else in life, there is no clear or defined starting point for us. We have to go at it the way we feel. My small advice to you on your writing journey is to simply remember to show up. Your story needs you just as much as you need your story. Dedication, consistency and a willingness to show up will get you through any roadblock, or in our case, writer’s block.
Centre for Stories is about taking things at your own pace, working with others, and providing a safe place for all. How has this space enabled you to think and explore your work?
My husband described the Centre for Stories as a different kitchen, wherein using a bunch of unknown-before ingredients, I managed to develop a different spread. I too have felt a poignant and palpable shift in the flavour and texture of my poetry. And, so have all those who have read or heard my poetry recently. I couldn’t put a finger on what it is about the place that has made this change possible, but then it isn’t just one thing but a bunch of factors all working together at once and infusing the writing.
What will you be working on next?
With my hot desk fellowship, I have put together a suite of eight poems that draw their subject matter and meaning from some beautiful and unique stories of my childhood, my family, and my roots. With this collection, I feel as though I may have unearthed a whole body of untold stories that need to be written and told. I am eager to work my way through each one of these, bringing stories to life, stitching shimmering tapestries of living histories, while also working on the emotional outpouring that is certain to occur.
Lakshmi Kanchi is a writer and a poet writing under the nom de plume, SoulReserve, and has over 1000 pieces of contemporary poetry published on her blog under the same name. Lakshmi’s poetry explores love and its tumultuousness, fantasy and zest in nature, and the inherently complicated, perpetually juxtaposed, staggeringly disjointed relationships – between history, language, culture and perception.
Writing Change, Writing Inclusion is Centre for Stories’ signature writing program for 2021 to 2023. Generously funded by The Ian Potter Foundation, Australia Council for the Arts and Centre for Stories Founders Circle, this writing program features mentoring, hot desk, and publication opportunities for emerging writers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and/or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.