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Kusum is a journalist, author and poet with much of her writing focused on women’s experiences, rights and dignity. Kusum was born and brought up in the UK, Nigeria, and India which has shaped and moulded her identity, and now lives between London and Delhi. Her new poetry collection on the COVID-19 virus ’We Might Have’ was released in January 2021.
She says: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at University and my love of writing and the arts was further fuelled and inspired by performances at the wonderful Northcote theatre which made a difference with my career. My first job out of University was with a trade magazine in London. I was a complete novice and learnt a lot from that job. It helped me gain confidence in myself, taught me how to put a magazine together and paved the way for my next job which was as a journalist in New Delhi.
“A few years into writing articles for the magazine, I switched to writing fiction and poetry. I am truly proud of the choices I made in terms of the subjects that I chose to write about. As I’m passionate about women’s rights and dignity, I weave my stories from real life situations that surround us and which we witness daily. Rape, poverty, unhappy marriages, incest, the right to speak and social stigma are also themes I am vocal about. Difficult themes that need to be repeatedly brought to the fore. I hope to inspire young women through my writing, and believe my ideas are bold and unconventional. My writing is the window to reach out to the reader who wants to make a difference.”
Kusum’s passion for women’s rights started from an early stage as she grew up with a strong mother who was an example and advocate for women’s rights and was drawn to stories by women writers who wrote books about strong women characters paved the way.
She says: “That’s what my books became: a voice for difference. My first book was the explosive ‘Kindred Spirits’ that talked frankly about women’s sexuality and shook up an Indian society whose ideas were rigid and narrow. I followed this up with a collection of short stories called ‘Wych Stories’ that looked at life in its many vignettes such as arranged marriage and poverty. The stories were dark and poignant. My next novel ‘Ayala’, dealt with the oft hidden and very traumatic subject of Incest. ‘I Am All Woman’, was a collection of poems that celebrates women and tells us boldly that we are the purveyor of our destiny.”
Kusum also feels that there’s nothing that a woman cannot do and there are ample examples for every walk of life for this. She says: “Bring on more women holding senior roles – the more the better. Even with all these examples in 2021 it’s still not enough and we have a long way to go!”
Which woman or women inspires you/is your role model/s?
“I have always been inspired by my mother, a strong and fearless person who pushed through numerous barriers to achieve her own dream of becoming a Doctor. I am drawn to women-centric issues and my novels always portray the strong and the brave, the need to fight and prove oneself.
“I have also been inspired by writers like Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing, Maya Angelou and Ruth Jhabvala. Supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was awe inspiring. The younger writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a writer to truly emulate. Her writing is inspirational and ambitious.”