Poetry Feels like a River, full of Serenity | SURBHI GUPTA

“Poetry Feels like a River, full of Serenity” AN INTERVIEW WITH SURBHI GUPTA

 By Haneefah Abdulrahman (Literature Voices)

(Surbhi Gupta, a 23-year-old, born and raised in Punjab, India is a B.Com (Hon.) graduate and an enthusiastic writer. She is currently a Law Student. She is also working as Project Head for Flairs and Glairs Publications, which includes three writing and open mic platforms namely – ‘Teekhe Zasbaaat’, ‘The Glittering Fables’ and ‘Ink Over Tears.’ Having a Lawyer’s mind and a writer’s heart, her writings are sui generis, relatable and inspiring. She is part of various writing events, communities and anthologies. She has co-authored in more than 35 anthologies and was a compiler of 6 anthologies and presently has over 50 Projects she is handling at the moment. Being a Judicial officer and an established writer is her dream.)

Haneefah: Good day ma’am, my name is HANEEFAH ABDULRAHMAN. I am so honoured to have you here with us at LitVo – Literature Voices. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Gupta: Hello Miss Haneefah, thank you for having me. My name is Surbhi Gupta and I am a 23-year-old final year Law student and B.Com (Hon) graduate, born and raised in Punjab, India. I am an enthusiastic writer as well. For the last 5 months, I am also working as Project Head for Flairs and Glairs publications who also runs three writing and open mic platforms- Teekhe Zasbaaat, Ink Over Tears, The Glittering Fables. This is my journey as of now, and If we talk about the destination I aim for, it is being a Judicial officer and an established writer. I am thankful to my parents- Mr. Girish Gupta and Mrs. Neeti Gupta for supporting and guiding me always.

Haneefah: Some people believe that literature varies in various countries as a result of varied cultures. Do you agree with this? How do you justify it? How does the Indian culture affect literature in terms of production and acceptance?

Gupta: Yes, I completely believe that Literature and Lifestyle of a particular place go hand in hand. The world is a tapestry in which various places, people, languages, history, customs, beliefs, are weaved together. Literature can be on anything: what people see and feel, they pen down.

Indian culture and literature go back to ancient times till modern times. Core Indian Values such as Love, Respect and Sacrifice for family and loved ones can be seen in their writings.  Variety of languages resulted in literary and linguistic diversities. Hindu Epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Holy texts as Vedas in Sanskrit, Chandrakanta in Hindi are few prominent examples. Through Western culture, English also paved its way into Indian Literature. Even Indian Constitution and Indian Legal codes are written in English.

Haneefah: What is the place of Indian literature in world literature? And how do you relate with other writers in other countries?

Gupta: As a writer, I was fortunate to get in contact with other writers via various platforms. My writing journey started back in 2018 with an App called “HaikuJam” which was a global platform. Also, I am part of various writing communities, constituting writers from all over the world. The common thing I share with others is the joy of writing. Be it any theme, genre, everyone is eager to learn and write. Feelings such as love, friendship, heartbreaks, dreams, etc. are universal everywhere, and writings end up almost similar. It is curiosity and communication which binds us together and I have made really good friends from distant countries as well.

Haneefah: What is the nature of government support to art, especially writing, in India?

Gupta: People of India, especially the government, find it one of their utmost purposes to preserve Arts and Culture in this land of diversity. Various schemes and scholarships are generated to aid budding artists. Literary events are also conducted every year. Also, in case of employment, there are many opportunities in the field of literature. However, many people are not aware of the opportunities; hence, a proper method should be there to spread awareness.

Haneefah: You write poetry and prose; which one strikes you more and why?

Gupta: That’s a really tough choice to make. Both are a perfect way to express one’s thoughts, But If I have to go for one, then it’ll be poetry. I love penning various forms of a poem, whether free verse, blank, sonnets, etc. To me, Poetry feels like a river, full of serenity, flowing in one direction, inhabiting my thoughts. I also compiled a book, Proposal to Poetry consisting of only poems on various themes with around 50 co-authors. It is yet to be launched. The book celebrates the joy of writing poems.

Haneefah: You are the Project Head at Flairs and Glairs Publication. What is the platform about? What is the story so far, as Project Head? Is it a global outfit for writers of all nations?

Gupta: Being Project Head for Flairs and Glairs is one of the best aspects of my life. Flairs and Glairs is a Publishing house. Writers are given opportunities to be published by being writers, authors, compilers via various anthologies, solo books at reasonable costs with ample benefits. Many free of cost opportunities are also provided from time to time. Flairs and Glairs also include 3 writing and open mic platforms named- “Teekhe Zasbaaat”, “Ink Over Tears”, “The Glittering Fables”. The Founder is Mr. Shubham Shah who gave me an opportunity to work as Project Head.

It’s been almost 5 months working for the same and I have compiled 6 anthologies, co-authored in 35+ and almost 50 Projects are currently handled by me. I host and judge various events and competitions as well. The core team is more like a family to me. Yes, Flairs and Glairs aims to spread its wings worldwide. We have people from all over the world who participate in our anthologies, writing challenges, and open mics.

Haneefah: Most times, literature is ‘abused’ as a result of self-publishing. In Africa, some self-published works go ahead to win international prizes. Does India experience self-publishing? What’s your view on this phenomenon that is prevalent in Africa?

Gupta: The statement made about self-publishing is not a fact, just an opinion. Just as you mentioned for Africa, even in India there are many prominent and successful examples of writers, who got rejected by some mainstream publishers who took the path to self-publishing to get their ambitious creations published. If a writer believes in his/her work, he/she should surely invest in self-publishing as well. There are pros and cons involved in both methods but what matters the most is the quality of the book.

Haneefah: Do you have any idea about African or Nigerian literature? If you do, what’s your overview of it?

Gupta: I got added to a writing community named “Writer’s Global Movement” founded by Mr. Afolabi Muideen A.O, who belongs to Nigeria. This platform unites, educates and promotes the world writers. There, I met you, Haneefah (Nigeria) and Mr. Alex Mageto (Kenya). As we all shared a common interest in writing; I got to know about African Literature as well. My friend Mr. Alex told me that they consider it to be Mirror of Society. It takes everyone back to what they have been through… Where they are and where they want to be. Critics would point out aspects of African leadership submerged in the literature. It criticises the aspects of society: Leadership, Religion, Morals and Education. Also thinking of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, etc as African writers; they are people who wanted to discipline society through books. They wrote exactly what affected Africans from the grassroots and the importance of upholding African tradition.

Haneefah: What are the major themes you treat in your writings? Assess the impact of your writings on your community and beyond. What functions should writing serve across cultures?

Gupta: I am very flexible when it comes to selecting themes. I write what I feel like at that very moment. It can vary from love, friendship, imagination, Justice, loyalty, peace, success, common sense, and many more. Some of my writings like, “The Evening Anecdotes”, “Carta de amor”, “Masala Tea in Manali” are inspired from my real-life experiences and I often get positive feedback for the same. Writing has the potential of wide reach. A writer should keep experimenting with thoughts, ideas, and keep adding new elements. Imagine if a writer meets and visits different people and places and pen down his/her experience for readers, how interesting that will be. Also, many pens have potential to change the world, so why not pen down social issues, problems and suggestions and spread awareness?

Haneefah: There is a great relationship between tourism, orature and literature: this relationship could provoke fusion and cross-cultural harmony. What is your take on this?

Gupta: We all are eager to expand our networks, to meet new people and to travel to various places. When a tourist reads about a place, local cuisines, law and order, culture and then decides to visit after a proper planning and analysing. A good literature written for a particular place attracts a large number of tourists as it has already constructed a well framed idea in their minds which they are willing to see in reality. As a result of travelling, people who lived miles away end up meeting each other, share stories, songs and experiences from their native places, by perhaps ravishing local cuisines together and keeping traditions alive. Tourists also end up visiting literary places, which were once hometown or places of great importance to their favourite writers. This very well caters to cross cultural harmony.

Haneefah: Flairs and Glairs publication is currently working on publishing an anthology titled “TRAVEL TAPESTRY”, what is the whole idea behind the publication of this particular anthology with the travel theme?

Gupta: “The Travel Tapestry” is an anthology under “Flairs and Glairs Publications” compiled by me. This book is akin to a Tapestry which is made of most exciting and beautiful travel experiences around the globe. Planning a trip, packing bags, visiting sites, tasting various cuisines, meeting new people; all these moments that turn into mesmerizing memories gets imprinted forever in a traveller’s heart. It holds a collection of 50 such travel stories and experiences of co-authors, which promises to take us places. So, this shares the love of travelling with all adventurous and avid readers out there. This book will be launched soon on various platforms. I am also thankful to you, Miss Haneefah for being one of the co-authors in this book and sharing with us your beautiful travel story.

Haneefah: Challenges can be discouraging; it can kill one’s dreams sometimes. What do challenges mean to you in life? How often do you win the battles of challenges?

Gupta: Yes, rightly quoted. Challenges differ from person to person based on their ability to perceive and handle the situation. For me, the biggest challenge is to balance everything in Life and the second one is to be a girl in a male dominant society. But, I chose not to give up and keep working for my dreams without caring for the result or everyday struggles. I am glad to have supportive family and friends who motivate me to move forward always. Also, the more you explore, the more challenges you face, but that’s what makes life interesting and worth living.

Haneefah: “Trust your Journey” is so far your favourite quote. Is life riddled with journeys? Give an insight into this creed of yours. What function does it serve as you confront life daily?

Gupta: “Trust your journey” is indeed a quote, which means that our life is our journey, wherever it takes us, is because of our choices, actions and decisions. Life’s journey will definitely take us to the destination we desire if we keep working towards it, enjoying it and not worrying if things aren’t going according to us at that particular moment. I know my Journey is going as per the choices I am making at every turn, be it my personal or work life… My choices may be right or wrong, but I trust my journey and I know eventually I’ll be in a place I want.

Haneefah: You have been published in so many anthologies. How did you achieve that? Are you satisfied with the amount of your works published? Do you feel you have many more journeys to make in your art? Where do you want the journey to take you?

Gupta: Yes, I am glad to be published in 35+ anthologies as co-author and I myself compiled 6 anthologies. There are few upcoming projects, which are still in process and I am very excited for them but my foremost happiness when projects of my compilers are launched as they are the ones who chose me as their Project Head by believing in me. Currently, I have around 50 projects. My friend introduced me to Flairs and Glairs publication and as I kept on indulging more, I interacted with many talented people, made contacts and got opportunities in this process.

I am very thankful to each and every person for having me in their books, but I desire to co-author more anthologies, especially the ones having unique themes. I definitely have miles to go in this field. I wish to compile more books with distinct themes, set records, but above that, create quality contents to my full potential. I am enjoying this journey of mine, but I’d love to reach a destination where I can get my own book published as an author and be able to make significant changes through my writings in the lives of my readers and society at large. Also, I wish to publish a paper on all the reforms Indian laws should adopt and actually see them getting recognised and implemented.

Haneefah: Thanks for the time.

Gupta: Thank you LitVo- Literature Voices and Miss Haneefah for having me.

Haneefah AbdulRahman is a spoken word artiste, poet, writer, interviewer and social entrepreneur. She has published some of her articles, short stories and poems in different journals including the Nigeria Review. She is the Financial Secretary and Editor I of Creative Writers’ Club, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she studies Literature. She is from Kogi State, Nigeria and lives in Kaduna. Email:, IG: neefahwords, BLOG:, Twitter: neefahwords_, Facebook: Haneefah Abdulrahman, YouTube: Hanifah Abdulrahman.