Compass North: An International Interview Series-Harpreet Dayal

J: What interview can't start without an introduction?

H: My name is Harpreet Dayal. I was born and raised in London, England but now I most recently reside in Calgary, AB Canada. For as long as I can remember. I have always enjoyed the creative arts in all shapes and forms. I love art, music and of course writing! I have been writing from a very young age but was never one to finish anything I started simply because I didn’t consider my work was ever good enough.

I faced a large societal and cultural change when I relocated from the U.K. to Canada; it really awakened something in me. Fear of moving to a new place and away from everything familiar became a catalyst for internal change. I started writing a story about Wilbert the Worm, which at the time was kind of therapy for me. I pushed myself to complete it but couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and siblings. In the summer of 2015, I finally completed and edited manuscript of Wilbert and begun sharing some of my work online. I truly feel that if you don’t believe in yourself you shouldn’t expect others to. We take it for granted sometimes, the simple idea of “believing yourself”. It’s not always automatically there. Sometimes one has to develop it, and I definitely “faked” it until I really did believe in myself. As of August 2016, I have published Wilbert the Worm and a short poetry book called ‘Svadhyaya: A Journey of Self Learning’.

Shortly after moving to Calgary, by happenstance, I began reciting my spoken-word poetry at various open-mic events thanks to the encouragement of my friend, Miranda Krogstad, (an established Spoken Word Poet in Calgary). I feel she deserves a mention because she is one of my biggest supporters and has played a big part in my writing/poetry journey in a country that was at one point very alien to me. I am fortunate enough to be invited to speak at charity events and various other events in the city on a regular basis. Even though I wouldn’t classify myself a spoken word artist, it has allowed me to connect with the writing community and share my work.

J: Very interesting. I’m glad to see that you have maintained your moral qualities since your beginnings; tells a lot about your character. Speaking of, we must’ve first met close to two years ago. Given the acquaintance on Instagram, have you met like-minded creatives to brainstorm/collaborate with?

H: I have met many creative people, be it through Instagram or through my local writing community in Calgary. I find the writer friends that I have made through Instagram are always at hand when it comes giving advice or sharing their personal experiences about their writing journey. They are always a source of inspiration! I consider myself lucky to think I can just send someone an email or a message and they are there to help! The same can be said for the local artists. When I am facing struggles as most writers do at some point in their career, they are always there sharing tips and inspirations as well as their own struggles. They are always cheering me on when I reach a milestone.

J: Wonderful. I know what it’s like to have a virtual and physical community that are there for you and vice versa. So, how has the cultural & geological change affect you as a person as well as an artist?

H: I feel the change has most definitely played a big role in my personal growth. I am more outgoing than I once was and more willing to take risks and try new things. As an artist, I feel that the change has helped me embrace the creative side of me more fully. I see more of the world and meet genuine people so I am constantly inspired.

J: Well said. I’m very glad that “Wilbert the Worm” and “Svadhyaya: A Journey of Self Learning” have become a success! Time seems to have done you a service. Care to elaborate on (some of) your writing method?

H: I don’t have a strict writing method as of yet, but I endeavor to get most of my writing done early in the morning before stress of day to day lives takes hold. When I am focused on one idea, I try to catch the wave of momentum and ride it indefinitely.

J: I see. I write at night so hearing that is interesting. I am unfamiliar with Hinduism and the spirituality that stems from it. Does “Svadhyaya” contain both universal and idiosyncratic truths?

H: Svadhyaya means a ‘study of the self’ in Sanskrit. It describes a journey to better understanding oneself. I chose to name the book Svadhyaya because I feel I am learning more about myself through my writing and all the experiences connected to it. My book only extends as far as my own personal journey and growth that stems from realizing one’s potential. Studying the self-recognizing our thought processes is key. Being self-aware at all times is key. Universal in the sense that we are all encouraged to self-reflect, whether it is through journalism or meditation.

J: Very interesting, thank you for that! Next question. How has spoken word evolved your written word? I know it may seem like a bland question, but like myself and countless others, performing your work may change things for the better.

H: Spoken word, to me, is more like a performance. There isn’t rhyming, repetition, annunciation of words. But I personally think the most important thing is to evoke emotion and really get the listeners to imagine and feel the words. I am learning to use language that will really evoke emotions in the listener. If I can do these things, then I can then apply my skills to writing and bring the narrative come alive in the readers’ mind.

J: Nice. I have had a handful of readings ‘under my belt’ but no slams as of now. I enjoy just hearing the cadence and stories/themes being expressed the most. Maybe one day I can sit in to a reading with you! Ok, so what’s your experience with say contemporary fiction? I can imagine narrating poems have sparked something different?

H: I have a bit of an interesting journey. I started with experimenting with prose prior to poetry. I had an idea for a story that may be novella or novel, yet I still don't really know yet. I started writing poetry to really make sense of my feelings and thoughts on a more visceral level. With my spoken word pieces, the themes become coalescent and not sporadic. I prefer poetry over prose for the desire to have more flexibility to articulate my message, as it is not in the confines of a particular structure or format.

J: Awesome. So, to close this out, feel free to leave any links of your work for our readers to view your material. Thanks again for such a wonderful interview!

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