Bringing The Punk (Via Pakistan & the U.S.A) Back To London Through Poetry – Sascha A. Akhtar

Sascha Akhtar.jpg

“When I was 7 years old, my mother’s sister (who I consider my own sister) was only 9 years older than me. She was the only full­-on punk in Karachi in 1984, possibly in all of Pakistan. And no holds barred at that,” relates Sascha Aurora Akhtar of the deep-rooted connection she has always felt to punk.

“I loved it. All of it. The green hair. Her ‘fuck you,’ attitude (which I can tell you nobody else loved at the time), the music, I loved the badges. She had gone to London and brought back a badge-maker. That was huge for me. As a result, I was nicely educated (at 7, in Pakistan) about anarchy symbols & other important punk insignias”.

Sascha’s poetry has always been punk. Her first book The Grimoire Of Grimalkin was called, “..a work of contemporary Gothic, with a punk core and an anarchic sense of humour”. (It was also it must be noted called, “a contemporary masterpiece,” by the man who is the Department Chair at New York University of the Department of French Literature, Thought & Culture.)

“I never thought ‘Oh. I’m going to be a poet’’. No. I just always wrote to ward off the demons. It is not easy being me, staying balanced, well, even. It never has been. I have extreme sensory issues, sensitivity to sound, light, change, energy as a result even the chemical functions in my body create severe responses, so not PMS but severe PMS (for which I am an advocate for change in our perception of this). So not just slightly irritable, right? But totally depressed for more than 10 days, and sadly, suicidal. It’s taken A LOT of work to manage these things. BUT my own PUNK core has ALWAYS helped me; as a channel of expression, as a call to be strong & brave & stand up for what you believe in, as a (to me) genderless mode for a woman to empower herself, as musical inspiration – Punk is everything”:

Watching Venus mar the sun

as     you   locked     on

to     me,       target

I am going

two ways

& poetry   is the fuselage

they     will     find

my       twisted   body

conjoined with

 

Extract from Sascha’s second collection 199 Japanese Names For Japanese Trees

“Music is my strongest influence. There are many poems that begin with a quote from a song. The high-art punk of Nick Blinko via his band Rudimentary Peni is my ‘soul,’ music. “There’s someone who has constantly struggled with mental health issues and used his art to heal in many ways. Yes, I’ve said it, Punk can be healing!”

 

Sascha’s latest book’s title is #LoveLikeBlood and “Yes. The second poem is called #LoveLikeBlood, with an epigraph: There’s A Nod To Killing Joke In Here. “Aren’t Killing Joke like, totally Punk Noir, tho’? Amirite?”

Sascha’s performances are raw & highly-charged. “I’ll tell you what. I WAS in a punk-death-metal band in college in the 90’s. And yep. I was the vocalist…and yep…there WAS a lot of SCREAMING, GROWLING & SNARLING. Fun times!”

Sascha’s new book #LoveLikeBlood is available from Knives, Forks & Spoons Press – a stalwart on the Indie scene. The poems in the book feature titles such as FREAK BREACH ( “This is my ultimate punk poem”), Ejaculate As A Noun, Anatomy of A Car-Crash and Girl Child Of The 80’s.

She has been gigging all over the U.K. since the onset of September.

 

Sascha A. Akhtar is the author of five published poetry collections with Salt, Shearsman, ZimZalla, Emma Press and Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. She has another full collection forthcoming in 2019 imminently with Contraband UK. In 2020, her book of translations of feminist fiction writer from the Subcontinent Hijab Imtiaz is forthcoming on Oxford University Press India. She has been widely anthologised & translated and is an #ACE funded writer having received her award in October 2018. Her fiction has appeared in Tears In The Fence, Storgy, BlazeVox, Anti-Heroin Chic and The Learned Pig. She attended Bennington College, Vermont for her undergraduate degree and attended UMASS-Amherst M.F.A Creative Writing on a full fellowship.  She is teaching in the English department of the University of Greenwich and is a Poetry School Tutor with a specialisation in magical texts and poetry as a magical art.
In September 2019, her poem Poems For Eliot, was named as the number one poem of the last five years by Poetry Wales.
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