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Karishma Natu and Victoria Grant sat posing for the camera in Bookbag, holding copies of 'Beneath The Blue'.

Karishma Natu on launching her debut anthology – "Every quiet thought and detail of your daydreams amplified."


  • Student Journal
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  • Creative Writing


I treat each piece like a newborn that just needs to be cradled for a while. And the poems will grow on their own, in time. They’re not meant to be perfect or drafted a million times, in my eyes. They’re supposed to be raw and a little bit rough around the edges. It gives them humanity.

Poetry and songwriting have always played a significant role in my life. They have helped me navigate my creativity, understand my sensitivity and truly connect with the world in a way nothing else could. When I was in college, my love for poetry really kicked off. It’s funny when I look at my poetry from college now. I took a lot of inspiration from the Romantics, and was reading a lot of 19th century ballads, sonnets and epics. That inspired me to write in a compact, traditional form. This is the time that I adopted the use of pastoral imagery frequently, which is something that came quite naturally as a woman who grew up with an affiliation with nature and the countryside.

Once I got to AUB, I started experiencing all these new feelings in a new environment, and I went through my first break-up. Over time, I’ve produced two anthologies (one of which was handwritten and the other I printed and “bound” with staples at the University library) and self-published my debut book, Beneath the Blue.

My style and my inspirations have shifted a lot and they’re constantly evolving. They’ve become a lot less naïve and strict in regard to poetic rules. I think that’s the thing about personal poetry – it’s not just the world, but every quiet thought and detail of your daydreams amplified.

I’ve found that I don’t have a particular way of writing; I’m actually quite disorganised when it comes to putting pieces together. Around my room, either under the bed or in my notebooks, you can find random post-it notes and phrases scribbled down. That’s my process. The workload of third year was so heavy, therefore I found it difficult to experience anything, as did the people around me. Beneath the Blue started as a song about running out of time. I spent a lot of the last year of uni in my bedroom laying out melodies and writing, more than anything else.

When I’m inspired, often a line or so will come to me, like some kind of epiphany that I must scribble down before I forget. Then I'll sit down and develop it. I try not to touch them too much once I’ve got something. I treat each piece like a newborn that just needs to be cradled for a while. And the poems will grow on their own, in time. They’re not meant to be perfect or drafted a million times, in my eyes. They’re supposed to be raw and a little bit rough around the edges. It gives them humanity.

Not to fall into a cliché, but I genuinely believe that I’ll forever view my time at AUB as one of the best times of my life. James, the Course Leader of BA (Hons) Creative Writing, had a genuine understanding and his passion for writing shone through from the day I met him on an Open Day. While first year was mostly online, over the span of three years I managed to meet some incredible people and make memories on Bournemouth Beach, even on rainy days. I’m forever thankful for the things that shape me.

I think your early-20s are the most significant years of your life. Uni life is generally what you make it. I know it allowed me to grow and explore as a writer in a number of ways (with community projects and writing different forms and genres). If I didn’t do the BA (Hons) Creative Writing course, I don’t think I would’ve built enough confidence to break boundaries and rules within my craft in poetry.

During my last year at AUB, I began working on Beneath the Blue. I didn’t have intentions of self-publishing when I first started writing it; I merely saw it as a passion project. At the time, I referred to it as the “residue of my final major project.” Ironically, my final major project was something I deemed my “most authentic work yet,” but the work that felt truer to me than ever was everything I wrote for Beneath the Blue.

Luck brought me to the very talented Victoria Grant; her illustrations perfectly brought my poetry to life. The idea for each chapter to be set around each phase of the day was suggested by Victoria and it turned into a gorgeous, dreamy, whimsical blend of the story of youth and love. After coming home from Bournemouth, I reached out to her and asked if she’d want to self-publish, then I began researching and doing as much as I could after my warehouse nine-to-five.

During this time, I also reached out to the independent bookshop, Bookbag, based in Exeter. I wanted to make connections with other writers and ended up joining the team to run events and open mics. They’ve been so supportive from the start and even allowed me to host my own book launch there! There was a Q&A hosted by my wonderful co-worker, Sirisha. Then we did a signing (and had plenty of lemon cake!) This book saw me through many obstacles, including changes in environment and relationships, but I am grateful for the people who have had my back.

Taking the “hot-seat” was a cool experience for me. I’m not one to talk about my process and my personal experiences openly, unless it’s through my work. So one thing I did recognise is that if you’re going to write from a personal standpoint, you have made a direct choice to share. I think it’s a brilliant confidence builder. Though the people who came were family and friends, I felt as if I would be prepared to share my thoughts with a group of strangers after the launch.

A lot of people have already approached me like, “When’s the next one out then?” When I tell them I’m already working on the next book, they stop laughing and they say, “Wait, seriously?”

I've started working on the next big thing with Victoria, too. Not giving anything away just yet in terms of content, but I aim to grow a bit more of an audience and continue embracing change. I’m always going to be writing, whether that’s for songs, poetry, or even essays. One day, I hope to find a career that suits me in this way. But for now, I’m happy as a barista (it’s true, I am a stereotype).

One piece of advice I would give to any current or potential students interested in creative writing is to make as many plans as you can, big or small. As long as you are immersing yourself in the world around you, you will thrive as a writer. I know how easy it is to crawl back into your personal hobbit hole and get comfy there. But trust me, the inspiration will come the more you grow as a person, and the more you give yourself time to see what we have been blessed with. And if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

There was an art performance I discovered the other day on TikTok. It was this guy climbing up a flight of stairs and he kept jumping between different points on the stairs after falling onto the trampoline beneath him (Yoann Bourgeois’ The Mechanics of History). I thought – yes, this is it. This is what it means to be a creative, and to get up over and over again. You have a 100% chance of failing if you never try. Even if you start small, even if you fall a thousand times, you can always keep getting up.

Explore more of Karishma’s work via her TikTok page.

Something to think about

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