Hi Lonita, thanks for taking time to chat to me. Where in Indonesia are you originally from?
I grew up in Jakarta, and had a wonderful childhood and teenage time. Being able to live in a country with such diversity has made me become a more tolerant person, more flexible, respectful towards others, and appreciate their differences. I don't remember any bad things about growing up in Jakarta.
Did you write as a child?
I have always been writing, mostly diaries. My first ever words would have definitely been 'Dear Diary.' My mother knew about it from the very beginning. I did win few writing contests at school too though, but oddly I never opted to be a writer; I used to think that it was just a hobby.
What is your job now?
Currently I am an advocate at WCCI (Women's Crisis Care International). We advocate women who are the victim of domestic violence and sexual assault here in Bahrain. There are more than sixty-five advocates in WCCI, women with excellent backgrounds and from all walks of life, and I do admire each and every one of them for what they do and contribute in life. The main issue that effects women in the Middle East - and everywhere - is the concept that women must not reach their potentials. Lack of knowledge and / or ignoring the facts that women too have a right to live, and live on their own terms. Domestic violence is mostly hidden in the Middle East - it is something that occurs behind closed doors, and outside the home women must just pretend with her smiles. Our role is to advocate them; letting them take back control of their lives and – mainly - just to there for them.
Does this often very difficult work inspire your poetry in any way?
Yes, sometimes the role I do at WCCI does inspire my poetry. because my poetry is about the beauty of pain. Also, I want to write poems inspired by the advocates too, because they are the unsung heroes; I would love to 'spill my ink' for them.
It seems poetry is in your heart?
Yes, I am a poet at heart and for the past couple of years writing poetry has been a love affair for me. I do have a real love for words; they play in my mind like children play in playground. But, unlike before, the love I have for words has significantly increased; they are now like my passion that needs to get the touch of my ink. It has been developing with the passage of time, especially with the silent personal struggles that I have been carrying with me for years.
What writing projects are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on two poetry books, which I hope would be published soon. The first book's theme is about the journey of my brokenness, the chapter of my life which I then break down into three smaller chapters; Daydreaming, Words of Sunset and Moonlight. The second book is a eulogy for my lost soul. I didn't find any difficulty in writing these books, in fact they flew... just like that!
Apart from your life and its challenges, what other things inspire you the most?
The things that inspire me the most are the philosophy behind sunset, ocean, crescent, and autumn. There is a beauty about leaving, about depth, and about imperfection. My poetry is more about the beauty of heartache, of being heartbroken, sadness, and of a letting go. The reason is that I love to see beauty in everything, including sadness and darkness.
And how are these inspirations transferred onto paper?
The process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration into actual words on paper happens to me just like that! Suddenly the words just flow. For example, I would see a beautiful sunset while driving and suddenly I'll feel like writing about it, but it has to have a connection with the beauty of sadness. I do keep small journal with me too, but there are times when I write on my mobile phone, and later would then refine it into a final poem.
You seem to be able to write anywhere, but is there anywhere special you like to write?
Yes, the coffee shop! I always love a coffee shop. I could sit in any coffee shop, anywhere and write poems all day long. I love the dynamic situation that it offers me; the people who chat, the sound of coffee machine, the voices of people's orders, the laughter, the smiles, and of course the smell of coffee! I am a coffee addict.
What other plans do you have?
Currently I am in charge of WCCI advocates' scheduling and the WCCI newsletter, because I want to learn more about administration work of WCCI as it involves discipline in time management, communication, patience, dedication and professionalism. I am also preparing myself for the Bahrain Writers Circle (BWC) poetry event in April, which helps me in my public speaking as I would narrate my poetry on stage in front of public! I am also managing an Open Mic event which are quite rare in Bahrain so I jumped at the chance right away!
What are your three most favourite books and why?
My three favourite books are: IT by Stephen King - I love thrillers and love reading a book in which I my curiosity is expanded in every page, so that it would be difficult to put the book down, and IT is one of those books. Lang Leav Poetry books. Since I have started writing poetry, I have added poetry books into my collection, and Lang Leav is the one who is close to my heart. She writes so eloquently. And 40 Rules Of Love by Elif Shafaq - because I can relate to the story - it feels good when an author writes something that make us relate to our own personal lives.
Lastly, what does writing mean to you?
Writing means everything to me, it is my passion. I couldn't imagine doing anything else other than writing poetry.
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