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Meet Naza, The Poet From The Isles

Today is World Poetry Day and to celebrate the occasion, we have interviewed a talented Maldivian poet, Naza, also known as Poet From The Isles.

This interview sheds light on Naza's journey into poetry, her sources of inspiration and how her passion for writing ignited.

At Maldives Secrets, not only do we strive to promote The Maldives as an ideal holiday destination, but we also focus on promoting the wonderful local talents of The Maldives, by spreading the word and highlighting their incredible work.

Tell us a little bit about yourself & how your journey into poetry began.

My name is Nazaha Zaeem, commonly known as Naza by friends and family. I am a poet with an extreme passion in Poetry. I have lived my childhood in an environment where my father actively wrote Dhivehi poems and lyrics. I would see him stay up late at night writing poems that were all handwritten and kept nicely in his journal. He would sing lullabies to us in a melody that he composed for the poems that he created. Those memories are something that has really ingrained within me. My father has always inspired me with his unique talent of writing and poetry.

Writing has been something that I am really good at since the very beginning of my studies. But I have never tried Poetry on my own until my mid-twenties. Since my father got separated, I grew up to be a very reserved person who found it hard to express my inner thoughts and feelings. One huge thing that triggered me to write was death. Death of a close person to me followed by a well known figure by the nation in the early 2017. For me to process those thoughts, one day I sat down at home and started writing about it. That’s how I discovered that I have the talent of Poetry.

“It all seemed like a dream, As I sit in denial to believe, I lost a soul before my eyes, I kept asking myself why, It all seemed so hazy and unreal, Too enigmatic and unfathomable, I was lost in the drops of my tears, As I wept quietly trembling in fear, It all seemed to happen too fast, As I sit there with sweaty palms, My heart raced with shorter breath, By the scary thoughts of inevitable death.”

What inspired you to pursue poetry in The Maldives?

Are there many poets in The Maldives?

Poetry runs in my family. My biggest inspiration to pursue poetry is my father Mohamed Zaeem who was a poet and a composer during his time. I was not taught or trained to write poems. But Poetry naturally came to me and it was a huge discovery for me about myself. And it has helped me express my feelings and thoughts by putting it all in words. During my father’s time Fares Amir, Hoarafushi Saleem, Saud Abdul Kareem were well known Dhivehi poets. I have noticed that the late generation in the Maldives has the passion towards English poetry. We do have a pool of talented people around that needs more recognition from society to build up the talent further within us. Currently there are not many poets in the Maldives. The talent has been gradually fading and there is less focus provided in sustaining it. The tradition of great literature in the Maldives is taking its last breath and it’s a responsibility of our generation and the generation that comes after, to save it from its demise. Poetry is something that the country can really work on developing in order to uphold the tradition of literature. As for me, I have not written any Dhivehi poems yet but I wish to learn the technicalities of Dhivehi poetry some day and write one on my own. Maldivian Poetry has a lot of thematic strength in it and there is a great possibility for the future provided that there is room for building the talent among us.

Have elements from Maldivian culture, life, nature inspired your words?

My poems are mostly inspired by life in general, inner thoughts, feelings, mental well-being , friends and family with a little hint on Maldives nature and lifestyle. I usually write poems late at night when I finally get the calm and silence I need to process my thoughts.

It’s more like writing in a journal what my thoughts are at the moment but I wanted to be more creative and display it in the form of poems which gives a more idealistic and inventive touch to it. I always try to add more sentimental notes in my poems. Because these thoughts are very personal, these are authentic feelings that come from within, with no fabrication or misconception. It is really important to align your words with the truth and accept the reality as it is when you intend to write it down. Here is one poem that I wrote regarding the elements of life and nature in the Maldives;

“Where the sun shines brightly, Where the birds sing melodies, Where there is turquoise blue sea, Where there is tranquility & peace, This is where my soul is from, This is where my heart belongs, This is the place I call home.”

What is your favourite poem & who is your favourite poet?

While growing up I have always looked up to poetry by Maya Angelou. "Still I Rise" written by her has been a huge inspiration to me. The poem is about survival, strength and courage to stand up against any hardship that comes along.

There is no one particular favorite poem to me since we have a lot of remarkably talented poets in the international platform. I have been a fan of Micheal Faudet, Beau Taplin, Charlotte Erikson, Nikita Gill, Yung Pueblo and many many more. One poem that I found very intriguing recently is by Morgan Harper Nichols who is an American writer. The poem is about Empathy;

“Let me hold the door for you. I may have never walked in your shoes, but I can see your soles are worn, your strength is torn under the weight of a story I have never lived before. Let me hold the door for you. After all you’ve walked through, It’s the least I can do.”

What’s your advice to anyone who also wants to pursue their passion of writing?

Be brave and bold enough to go achieve that dream you have been waiting all your life to achieve. Be passionate enough to dream about bigger things even if you feel like it’s unattainable or unreachable.

Take that chance, take that opportunity, be the change that everyone is looking for. Nothing in life is too big or too complex for you to not try and let it pass. It takes just one day for you to sit in a place where you feel the most calm and at peace. Write your thoughts, how you feel in the most authentic form in a way which you feel is right. There is no linear path in pursuing any passion. Take that non linear path, one step at a time till you reach where you want to be. Passion is never about binding yourself with any selfish obligation, but it is more about feeling content about yourself at the end of the day by making your dreams a reality. My dream is to be able to publish all my writings on one platform one day, where all poetry enthusiasts and readers around the world can read them, learn from them and be inspired to achieve things beyond their grasp. I would like to leave behind something that everyone can look up to one day, and remember me and get inspired by.

What’s your all time favourite quote?

One of my favorite quotes is by Carl Sagan, an American astronomer and Science writer. It’s about embracing unity rather than individuality within us which I find very crucial to our very being and existence. “You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.” (Contact, 1997)

Where can we see your work? You can follow my poems from the instagram page Poet From the Isles. Link:

We hope you enjoyed this blog post, alongside discovering Naza, the Poet from the Isles, and being inspired by her beautiful journey into poetry.

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