‘I feel the fear of censorship’: Karuna Ezara Parikh on being a writer, her new poetry collection, and more

"When writers see their homes set on fire, comedians see their shows cancelled, and even my Instagram posts receive a shocking amount of venom, one has to wonder," the writer, whose poetry collection just released, said.

A former TV presenter, screenwriter, model, sustainability activist, entrepreneur and recently, author, Karuna Ezara Parikh’s hat ruffles with many feathers. But, it is her role as a poet that she has completely immersed herself into.

The Kolkata-based author has had a strong presence on the social media sphere, and her poetry has long commanded the digital space, some often going viral, bringing attention to social, political, environmental, and humanitarian issues from around the world. Now, the writer, whose debut novel The Heart Asks Pleasure First was received with applause, has combined some of her old works as well as new poetry into her second book and debut poetry collection Where Stories Gather.

Beautifully vulnerable and poignant, her impassioned written word is out for the world to dive into, yet again.

In a conversation, the author tells us about her writing process, immersing herself in poetry, and the fear of censorship.


You second book and first-ever poetry collection, Where Stories Gather, is out. How does it feel?

A little overwhelmed, to be honest. I waited so long and then suddenly it happened so fast. I find the cover (by Rhea Gupte) impossibly beautiful and I keep touching it to make sure it’s real.

If you had to summarise the poetry collection for us, what would you say a reader can expect?

My messy truth spun clean. I have tried to be honest on every page. There’s a violence to that, but a tenderness, too, I think. You can expect vulnerability.

Can you take us through your journey of writing for and compiling this poetry collection? 

That was quite something. Though I’ve always written poetry, I’ve never had the privilege of being immersed in the process for days on end. That’s a different sort of headiness and delight and pain, too. I spent hours and hours writing, rewriting, waking sometimes in the middle of the night with a sense of devotion to the words.




A post shared by Karuna Ezara Parikh (@karunaezara)

Your debut novel Where Heart Asks Pleasure First was widely applauded. Did you feel any pressure or expectations when writing the new book?

It would be a lie to say I didn’t, but I also had to rid myself of expectation in order to create from a place of purity. So much of my poetry and work has been in the online space where you write with the weight of expectation seeping into your fingertips, I needed to step away from that.

How do you feel you have evolved as an author after your debut novel, and how does it reflect in your poetry collection?

Personally, of course, it’s natural to feel slightly more confident after a successful project, but there are other feelings too, and I have tried to channel some, and then not too much, into the new work. I think I take myself less seriously now, but treat myself more kindly, if that makes sense?

You have been vocal about social, political, and environmental issues on your social media platforms, and your novel also navigates multiple such tropes. What inspired you when it came to ‘Where Stories Gather’?

Exactly the same things. And also the struggle of constantly having to be vocal. I wish we lived in a world where we had the option of staying silent. The poetry is more personal in some ways.




A post shared by Karuna Ezara Parikh (@karunaezara)

Do you ever feel your voice, creative and otherwise, suppressed or impacted in any way?

I feel the fear of censorship, which is very real. When writers see their homes set on fire, comedians see their shows cancelled, and even my Instagram posts receive a shocking amount of venom, one has to wonder. 

Are you working on anything next? 

I am, but I’m not sure what it is exactly, yet. I’ve been very interested in new forms of non fiction of late, and telling stories through satire and the absurd, as the world grows madder around us. Maybe those ideas will come together somehow.

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