New author launches poetry anthology at Love Books, Melville
Fans filled up the spaces of the buzzing bookshop last night at the launch of Happy Birthday Raashi, a poetry anthology by Raashida Khan, the author’s first published work.
Khan’s journey as a writer for the past 20 years has been a start-stop affair. She first tried her craft in short stories in the back office
of a marketing agency, working late into the night. She wrote with a friend and the pair put together a variety of crime capers much like the style of Deon Meyer, in short story format.
After a few unsuccessful attempts at publication, Khan gathered momentum and went on her own setting out to craft more short stories closer to home in theme, two of which garnered the spotlight by winning short story competitions.
Host Malebo Sephodi author of Miss Behave, likened poetry to jazz and said Khan’s work had a lyrical quality.
Khan said she chose to publish poetry first despite her first love for novels. She said some writing exercises helped her to arrive at this. “I did a couple of courses and was reading up on the practice of writing. One of the things suggested to hone your craft was to write poetry. Writing poetry forces you to capture your thoughts in a few words, so it was a way to learn writing succinctly,” she said.
“I found I had a passion for this and was encouraged by friends and by how much I enjoyed writing poetry to pursue. There was a time – in between novels – when all I was writing, was poetry. It’s a recent love.”
In his shout out, Achmat Dangor said, “This collection gives new meaning to the term ‘modern poetry’”.
Khan said she was introduced to poetry by her late father who was instrumental in her early experience of some of the great poets of our time.
Sephodi said Khan had captured great depth in a few words and that each of the poems “spoke to what I was going through”.
Khan read many of her poems including Fear not, Hear me, my son, My love vow, among others.
Discussing the title of the anthology, Khan said, “I love birthdays, birthdays are special. It’s an acknowledgement of self and a rebirth.”
On the route to become published, she said, “Believing in myself was probably the most important hurdle to overcome. I’ve always trusted my instincts, but then would also do this terrible thing we all do – second guessing ourselves.”
The poet said her challenges were rewarded. “It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve learnt and grown so much. Mostly – about patience; realising that everything will happen in its time and not a moment before that.”
Khan said her sources of support included her husband Zain and many friends and family. “All the women in my life, strong women; incredible women.”
Sephodi said she was looking forward to Khan’s next publishing venture and that expectation around her first novel was heightened based on an excellent poetry anthology.