Manisha Anjali: Poetry of love, death and mysticism

Manisha Anjali performs regularly around Melbourne. Picture: Snehargho Gosh

By FLORY AMBARITA

Manisha Anjali exudes an air of mystical beauty as she enchants her audience whenever she performs at festivals and workshops around Melbourne. 

As a young writer and performer, Anjali’s literary work possesses an ability to immerse her audience in a world full of hazy mystery. 

After spending the first eight years of her life in Fiji and the next 12 years in New Zealand, Anjali’s work is inspired by Indian and Oceanic folklore and myths.

In 2016 she published her first book titled Sugar Kane Woman, a collection of poetry about dreams and hallucinations of exiled Indian women in Fiji.

Anjali performs her poetry in deep and lulling voice, slowly inviting the audience into her dreamy world. Her work does not rely on logic and structure, but on sensory experience.

“I didn’t mean my poems to be understood, I want people to feel it,” Anjali says.

The highlight of her poetic performance is the use of dream like imageries from Indo-Oceanic folklore and myths. This aspect of her writing gives a distinctive quality to her  work, especially among young writers in the Melbourne art scene.

“I have always been obsessed with folklore and religion. Mysticism feels so ingrained in the culture and it’s a lived experience, it infiltrates every aspect of the daily life”.

Manisha Anjali at “Recasting the Snake” at MWF. Picture: Flory Ambarita

Anjali often includes Hindu and Sanskrit references in her work, which sparks a question  about how the performance translates to an Australian audience.

“So far it has never became a problem. I guess the audience sees it more as an experience,” she says.

“Often after a performance people would come up to me and give nice feedback but [I am] never questioned about the cultural references. Although, sometimes there are those rare members of the audience who are actually familiar of the things I mentioned.”

“Sometimes I mash up some of my pieces of writings depending on the theme of the performance. Somehow they work well together.”.