To pursue a career in the arts is no small feat, and the tight grip that Niti Majethia has on the written word is a testament to her passion and self-awareness in the world of poetry and prose. A sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, Majethia has already published her own book, “Eunoia,” which is an eclectic collection of poems.
Emigrating to America at a young age can be a hindering challenge to many young folks. But with faith, the support of those around us and a passion to touch the lives of others is what continues to make Majethia successful and motivated for the future.
Jake Deven: When and why did you start writing poetry?
Niti Majethia: I started writing poetry when I was around 6 years old. I remember being taught nursery rhymes at home and in kindergarten, and I was fascinated by the magic just a few words could create and the poetic tune that was brought out.
I started speaking extremely early, and my parents say I was obsessed with learning new words and just talking about different things. Writing was an outlet for the voice I had.
Of course, at that time I wrote tiny lines about random things like dogs, chocolate cake and having the flu. But my need to express myself has always been the driving force of my writing. Over time, with different life experiences and personal growth, my writing style started to evolve.
I started venturing into new territories artistically and creatively. But at the core of it all, I started writing because I always had something to say and I wasn’t afraid to say it.
JD: Who are your greatest creative inspirations and why?
NM: Everything in normal day to day life inspires me, from watching leaves fall in autumn to taking that first bite of my favorite food. I think the upbringing and values my parents have cultivated in me have really influenced the perspective I have, which has indeed given me clarity as an artist.
Of course, writing was something I did by myself because at its root it isn’t something that can really be taught. The way my parents raised me has liberated me as a person, given me the confidence to be myself and of course, inspired me creatively.
My parents taught me the importance of kindness and compassion, being loving towards each and every person, being fearless in the face of obstacles and being courageous in the pursuit of my dreams. How to truly be down to earth and humble has also been one of the most important lessons.
They also taught me the importance of having a powerful voice and using it confidently to change the world for the better. These things matter, and they really influenced my creativity, because when you’re a writer your aura and the person that you filter through.
You have to be comfortable in your skin and honest with yourself in order to make real, raw art. If you’re not, it doesn’t work.
My Faith is also my biggest inspiration. I believe in multiple Gods but mainly Lord Shiva, and I think my Faith has constantly guided and inspired me in unimaginable ways. I wouldn’t call myself religious, rather spiritual. I think one’s relationship with God is very separate from the structure that comes with religion.
When it comes to writers and poets, some of my favorites are Rumi and Rainer Maria Rilke. Warsan Shire is a modern, contemporary poet whose work I enjoy. One of my favorite paintings is Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais. Music is definitely a great source of inspiration, too.
My parents have always been very fond of traveling; thus, I have visited a lot of countries ever since I was very young. These experiences have helped me grow as a person and an artist because my creative inspirations tend to emerge from different types of landscapes, food and people.
JD: What was it like to publish your own work? Biggest challenges, what did you learn, etc.
NM: The publishing process is challenging and rigorous, but it was also the most liberating feeling in the world.
In a way, it is overwhelming because what you write comes from such a personal place in your heart, your art reflects your vulnerabilities and deepest, darkest feelings and the thought of it all being out there for the whole world to see and indulge in can be terrifying. I felt like my book was my baby, and I was finally releasing it in the world.
When my book “Eunoia” was finally published and released on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Flipkart, I felt insanely proud. At the end of the day, when you are creatively satisfied and happy with the work that you do, it’s a wonderful feeling to see your work out there, despite the nervousness in the beginning.
I am so grateful for the platform I have and all the love I have received over the years. It’s been quite a journey, honestly. I’ve had my moments of doubt and failure, times when I’ve had to pick myself up and tell myself to keep trying, keep working harder, not lose hope.
My parents didn’t know anybody in the publishing business, nobody in magazines, nothing at all. I’ve had to start from scratch and do it all on my own, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have learned so much with each step I’ve taken.
There are many challenges to overcome, especially in India. The arts are not taken too seriously, and a lot of people believe that the only way to succeed in life is to aspire to be a doctor, engineer or business person. Succeeding in the arts is the most farfetched and unrealistic career goal in India.
But growing up, I realized that it really wasn’t the artists’ fault. It is the lack of opportunities that make it difficult for an artist to succeed, not the lack of talent or lack of ability of the artist. There are so many incredible young artists out there, and I always hoped to help them get the platform they needed.
JD: What are you currently working on? Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish short-term or long-term?
NM: I’m currently writing for Spark Magazine, a fashion and lifestyle publication in Austin. I also do a lot of freelance writing for various magazines and newspapers too. I want to contribute to the magazine as much as possible. Their content is fresh, their concepts are unique and the people at Spark are so brilliant.
When it comes to long-term goals, I see myself working on the innovative side of publishing; editing, creative direction. The opportunities are endless. But, I’m also keeping my mind open towards other kinds of media, like television and film.
I am a writing and rhetoric major at The University of Texas at Austin and I’m doing my best to focus on school. Coming to America at 19 was amazing, but it is specifically UT Austin that has changed my life in the best ways possible. It’s such a big university, more than 50,000 people, which is why the opportunities are endless.
My short-term goals would definitely include giving back to this community and the lovely city as much as possible, in every way. I was also a little involved with the only student-run, FCC licensed, digitally broadcasting television station in the country, Texas Student Television (TSTV).
Activism and social work will also always be a huge part of my life. Mental health activism is something I am so, so passionate about, and I will continue working towards mental health reform with every opportunity I have.
I haven’t planned anything yet when it comes to my next book. I put in so much of my heart and soul in “Eunoia,” and now I don’t want to publish a book until there has been some substantial evolution and I have truly grown as an artist. I guess I will know from within when I’m ready for the next book.
I also don’t want to stick to only poetry, I already write articles and prose pieces for different platforms. I want to keep experimenting with different formats, growing and learning every single day.
JD: What about poetry do you wish other people knew, or what is your favorite thing about poetry?
NM: I love how intimate an art form it is. You have to journey into the deepest parts of yourself to truly write resonating and impactful poetry. To me, good poetry is saying a lot using very few words.
A few simple words, but they are placed and put together so perfectly that they hit the bloodstream and stun the reader, truly stir their heart and make them feel. Then there’s also the dreamy aspect of poetry, transporting the reader to another dimension of the universe and making them see things from a fresh perspective.
The most important thing is to be totally engulfed in the moment of creation, in order for it to be raw and real. It’s been quite a ride, but my journey has just begun. Every moment is an adventure, meeting new people every day and being a part of all these incredibly unique projects.
I am so grateful to God. The future is unpredictable, but I promise to always work hard and help change the world in my own little way.
You can find Majethia’s book, website and social media accounts at the links below: