Aditya Tiwari is a budding poet and an author born and brought up in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. He started working on his book in the year 2017 and finally got a chance to publish it in May 2019. The book titled ‘April Is Lush’ is a collection of short poems that talk about the emotions and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. In an exclusive interview with Fifty Shades of Gay, he opens up about his childhood, how he came to terms with his sexuality and why he chose to become a writer.
Let’s hear what Aditya has to say
How would you identify yourself as? What is your Sexual orientation?
I am queer and my pronouns are he/him
When did you realise you were queer?
I have always known about my queer self, there wasn’t any point where I had to realize the truth of my existence, but as I grew up, I was able to articulate it into words a lot better.
Did you have an internal battle with yourself or were you openly accepting about your sexuality?
I was accepting of myself in the beginning, but last year was a year of self-discovery with a lot of personal growth but also some momentary breakdowns, which was difficult to deal with. It’s always these challenges that show you who you are, and what you are capable of overcoming. It’s not easy, but I am proud of the person I am becoming.
I was told at a very young age, that I’d do nothing [professionally], or I’d be nothing, and I wrote my first book at a very dark time in my life. To be honest, I wrote my heart out in this book. What I wanted people to take away from the book was to always believe in themselves and never let anyone tell them “No” to their dreams. I write to heal and empower people. I truly believe that people empower people; without each other, we are all nothing.
How did people react to your sexuality?
People tend to talk about you behind your back or make derogatory comments but I honestly don’t care. I frequently get obnoxious DMs [direct messages] from people on my Instagram (@aprilislush), which is extremely offensive and uncalled for.
I follow the ‘delete or defeat’ policy, so some days I simply sit and roll my eyes, some days I hit them like hurricane Katrina. But it’s sad cause some people are nourished in the way, thinking that only men are ‘Toxic.’ I totally disagree, everyone is equally toxic at some point, it’s 2020. People should honestly mind their own businesses, we live in a world where girls can play soldiers, and boys can play princesses.
Who is that one person who is the strongest pillar in your life?
My mom. She inspires me, but I don’t have just one. I have three, my beautiful mom and dad, and my stunning sister.
When did you first realize you liked writing?
I have been writing since 2014, but it was in 2017 that I first started writing poetry. It’s like breathing fresh air to me. It’s my self-expression and an extension of my being.
Would you like to share the first piece you ever wrote?
Yes, the first-ever poem I wrote is called “Memoir of a Transgender Woman.”
“she is a biological woman – closest to god because she is where life comes from. but I create my own life. I am no less than anything or anyone. because what I want to be is what I create of me. I have found the essence of being a woman within myself – empowered many like me and the generations after me. femininity is my most sensual weapon.
I am someone who has found and created the woman in me. I am more woman than any other woman. so, the next time you call me “chakka” on the streets my soul will ache because I have changed my life from being who I used to be to who I am now which is not an easy path. my womb will hurt because of all the echoes of my unborn children. and my ovaries would bleed because I will never have periods like a normal woman.
I am no less than any other woman. when the red-hot- fierce lipstick hits my lips
I could set
a whole city on fire.
– memoir of a transgender”
How did the idea of the book come about?
I had never thought in a million years that I would ever publish a book. But, “Destiny has plans, I’m just following…” I started writing poetry on Tumblr in 2017 and a friend of mine who also writes poetry read my work and asked me to reach out to publishers.
By the end of 2017, I was working on ‘April is Lush’. I developed an amazing following with dedicated readers on Instagram and that’s how the book came to life. I wanted the title to be ‘April is Lush’ because it’s my birthday month and I wanted the cover to be a subtle rainbow so, I made the scattering rainbow effect for the cover. The book is inspired by a lot of personal struggles and inner battles.
What did you want to convey through your poetry and this book?
In my first poetry collection — “April is Lush”, I have weaved my pain into poetry, my wounds into art. My message is simple — to be kind; you never know what others are struggling with. We are all fighting a lot of battles, and most of them stay hidden. I wrote this book is not just because I want it to be the best of the best. It is also because whatever little it is, it will always be mine, and nobody can take it away from him — that’s my power.
I ultimately want to be able to save people’s lives through something. Whether it’s me just speaking about my stories or hear and feel someone else’s—or maybe become a voice for others who don’t know what’s going on or what they’re feeling—and that is my end goal.
Did you face any criticism about the style of writing?
Yes, I did. Because ‘free write’ is not everybody’s cup of tea and that is what I’ve used in my debut book. But my writing has evolved with time. I have been working on the second book for a while now. I don’t want to publish anything as of now, because I don’t think it’s the right timing, I learned a lot from my last book and I want to take what I’ve learned and turned it into something even better, grander. And I’m glad I did because this year, everything kind of just started pouring out of me, I started saying things in a way that I’ve never been able to articulate them before, the next book will happen when it’s needed to happen.
What is the one thing you are tired of hearing about the LGBTQ community, your sexuality, the kind of writing?
The one thing I am tired of hearing about the LGBTQ community is the lack of empathy that some people have. It’s not about special rights; it’s about equal rights. I very often end up telling people in mundane conversations with stupid at parties, that you can’t imagine walking in our shoes. Because It’s difficult but that needs to change. I also believe that it comes because of a lack of awareness.
The one thing that I am tired of hearing about my sexuality and the kind of writing is when people say, “all gay people are feminine, or all gay people are tans, people. Well, that’s not true, that’s stupid. “The kind of writing that is often called ‘modern word poetry’ or ‘free-verse poetry’ is not poetry. Honestly, what is real poetry? I feel that people should stop criticizing things too much and just live life to the fullest and create art.
What obstacles did you go through while publishing the book?
The biggest hurdle was finding the right publication. Since, there are not enough publications that support first-time authors, or poetry as a genre, it was difficult. I also didn’t know how to polish a manuscript or how to reach out to publishers, or what’s the right way. I was naïve but I’ve come a long way and I have learned a lot.
How did it feel when your book was finally published?
It’s such an amazing experience, the journey is so exhilarating. It’s like carrying a baby in the womb and then letting it out in the world. I feel that as artists we’re blessed. We as humans all come with an expiration date and we will not live forever, but we as artists create things that are so empowering. When I die, I only want to be remembered as someone who impacted lives and offered something meaningful to this world.
How would you describe the following with a shade:
Your personality- Rainbow, I’m all shades of dramatic.
Your wardrobe- Grey
Love relationship- Pastel Pink
Would you recommend a book that you like, that changed your perception about the LGBTQ community?
Queer Literature is propelling in India. I haven’t read a lot of LGBTQ books, but, one of my dear friends, mentor, Parmesh Shahani’s forthcoming book, ‘Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in Corporate India’ will be released in May 2020. I would recommend everyone to keep an eye on it. It is beyond exciting for me.
How do you feel platforms like FSOG can make a difference?
Platforms like FSOG is very prominent for someone like me and makes a huge difference. “Brown-queer people don’t get enough platforms; we have to often claim our spaces with our fierce existence and that’s the representation of our visibility.” I am a queer-person of color from a small suburb in India, I am underrepresented. My story, my book holds a very special significance and I am glad that there are platforms like Fifty Shades of Gay that value such voices and present them raw and misquoted.
Aditya is very excited to have his book published and reach so many people. You can find Adiya’s book on Flipkart and other similar websites.