Interview with poet and writer Annisha Lashand

Follow Annisha at @annishalashand and visit annishalashand.com.

What do you do?
I am a writer and poet. I’m also a Reiki practitioner and run monthly healing circles called the Red Tent in Toronto for woman-identified people to come and share sacred space.

How long have you been a poet and writer for?
I’ve been a writer since I was old enough to hold a pen. I have journals from the age of 6 onward.

What inspired you to pursue this path?
I grew up surrounded by storytellers. I’m half Indian, half French Canadian, and both sides of my upbringing gave me ample time to develop a thirst for stories. My Papa was this larger than life human being and the most epic of storytellers. He used to just make up stories on the spot with me while I was curled up in his lap as a child and I attribute my love and passion for stories to him. Though I didn’t see her as often, my grandmother (Dadima) on my Indian side would always tell me stories from the Bhagavad Gita which take the form of legends full of drama and romance, war, and triumph and I just soaked it all up.

All of these influences inevitably led me to theatre school; acting is another form of storytelling. And then around that time I think I realized you could actually write for a living, it didn’t just have to be this personal, secret thing in private journals. My grandfather and I started writing stories together, I read Plath and Whitman and developed this hunger to convey small moments the way they could. Teachers encouraged me to have my stories published – I think the external validation made me realize I had some kind of writing talent. From then on, writing was always a part of my life path.

What was the biggest hurdle in attaining your goals?
I think it was getting published for the first time. It’s hard to get your work out there without any previously published work. You’re basically just asking someone to see your talent and hope they have a desire to share it. It can be a pretty vulnerable experience submitting work to publishers for the first time! I think I had toughened up a bit from going to auditions as an actor and understood that just because you didn’t get accepted the first time, doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do – it just means you aren’t a good fit for that particular piece of work. I also had no idea how the process worked, and how you were supposed to pitch your pieces!

What do you enjoy most about your work?
That’s tough! The act of writing is something I really cherish. It’s like puzzle making. I have a feeling or a memory or a story hovering in the immaterial spaces between my soul and my mind and the act of writing allows me to cross that bridge. It’s an incredible feeling to take that walk and then step away from it, almost surfacing from a reverie, and read what you’ve written and think YES! That’s the feeling I was trying to convey. It’s thrilling in its own way.

On the publishing side, (right now) I’m using Instagram as the main medium for sharing my work and although I don’t have an enormous following, every time I post a poem I always get these really personal messages from people expressing how I’ve made them feel, and it’s such a uniquely rewarding experience.

What do you find most challenging about your work?
I think continually finding inspiration. Or rather, existing in a state of mind where inspiration is always present. I believe inspiration is a state of being. You can be inspired by the way the light hits the side of a building on your way to work; most people just don’t take the time to notice beauty in the ordinary. It’s hard for me too sometimes. It’s always easy to produce when things are REALLY shit or REALLY awesome, but harder when you’re just coasting in a content state of neutrality. But if you can get into this state of living inspired, that’s when you really hit the jackpot as a writer. Then everything is magical, and provokes your curiosity or creativity.

If you weren’t a poet and writer, what would you be?
I ask myself this regularly and my answer changes daily (haha)! Maybe an actor. Maybe an ecologist. Maybe a singer. Maybe a social worker for at-risk, minority populations. Something that involves nature, wellness, art, and service to others.

Name one hobby you have that’s not related to your work.
I paint sometimes, with watercolour. And sing a lot. I don’t think many people know this, but I have classical vocal training!

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Brush my teeth. I’m clean teeth obsessed.

And last thing you do at night?
Meditate and self-Reiki.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your work.
10! I can’t imagine a life without writing.

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