There’s Poetry In Numbers
Highley commended businesswoman, mentor and creative, Palak Tewary, speaks to Claire Buss about why her day job and passion projects offer connections rather than contradiction.
When you think of accountancy and poetry, you are probably thinking of two ends of a spectrum. A contradiction for sure. However, as I chatted with poet, accountant and Write On! regular Palak Tewary, about her profession and creativity, it turns out that they are actually the perfect balance.
We had to begin with the brilliant news that Palak was shortlisted for Banking & Finance Businesswoman 2022 in the Great British Businesswoman Series – congratulations again!
“I had no idea how I got nominated but it’s both humbling and powerful to have that recognition. Someone is telling me I’m good at my job.”
Palak is so right to feel that way. As creatives, we often look for validation in our work through the reaction of those consuming it, yet in our ‘day jobs’ where we might sit in an office, behind a computer screen, very often not looking at the lyrical positioning of words in our next poem, we can feel isolated, alone and unmotivated. But Palak is determined to lift those around her as well as continue to push herself.
“I want to do better and achieve more, to go beyond what is expected.”
One of the ways Palak plans to do this is by releasing a business book on coaching and mentoring, making a contribution to the education and motivation of others and in particular of women. She hopes to publish the book at the end of 2023, early 2024, and it will be filled with motivational mantras.
Once again, I’m struck by the parallels of Palak’s attitude in her workplace with that of the writing community in general and the real sense of camaraderie I and many others have experienced. Indeed, there is a natural momentum to support and lift each other up along this crazy journey into creative writing and that level of support and encouragement is something we put at the forefront of everything we do here at Write On! online, in print and on our Audio podcast.
I was curious to know how Palak was drawn to nurturing others in the workplace. It’s not something one naturally thinks of when it comes to a business environment. She tells me that, after completing her MBA, she went on to mentor women in business in developing countries through the Cherie Blair Foundation. A powerful opportunity to understand another world and learn so much from the women making a name for themselves, as well as having the ability to offer guidance and support. Palak worked with women entrepreneurs in various countries such as Pakistan, India and Lebanon – places where women don’t have as many opportunities as men and must work under the restrictions placed upon them.
“Being part of a movement like this, gives these women a chance to have success. But there is still a huge contradiction. The statistics show that men have the advantage. There’s still a long way to go!”
This corporate drive, coupled with her own unique, creative push, works to feed each other and push each other. But not only in her work at Price Mann, an Accounting, Tax and Consulting Service, where she is an Associate Director. This desire to push forward and try new things can also be seen in her creative work. Palak’s interest in poetry began as a child, when she was drawn to the rhythm of words in poems and began writing her own poetry instinctively. She tells me that, for her, poetry is a performance, a way of saying deep things in a simple manner. It also has a wonderful musicality about it. Palak often writes motivational poetry she hopes will act as an inspiration to others, bringing them hope and also messages of peace.
Naturally, I wanted to know if her passion for poetry was a deliberate counterbalance to her world of accounting and numbers and the answer is… sort of.
“I feel I’m split down the middle, half logical and half creative. My job feeds my desire for logic, while the poetry fuels my creativity.”
It was through Pen to Print that Palak began spreading her poetic wings a little further, but that itself was the result of a happy accident. She came across us during lockdown and took some of the free workshops on offer, such as Anna Robinson’s Poetry Course, and began submitting work to Write On! magazine, which our editor Madeleine eagerly agreed to publish. We were excited to invite Palak aboard, not only to share her work, but also to get her involved with editing our Showcase pages and writing for the print magazine.
Palak was delighted to place second in the Pen to Print Poetry Competition 2021 with her poem A Strange Collection, especially as it took her away from her usual rhyming style as she experimented for the first time with a narrative poem, pushing her technically to go above and beyond. It was the second time Palak had won anything for her poetry, being used to rejection. She was extremely pleased, as she particularly loved the piece.
A Strange Collection
I collect hearts – broken hearts. In horror, you jump a mile from
me and look at me aghast. Yes, it sounds awful, doesn’t it? It may
be a trying tale to tell but tell I must. For this cannot be hidden,
you know. I collect broken hearts. Truth be told, its not as easy
as it may sound – for, though there are many that are and remain
broken, not many are willing to trade them away. They keep them
holding tight in their fist, as if it was gold that I had asked for. Or
they try to hide it from sight, so sometimes it’s difficult to know its
there. Or they try and convince me that it is not shattered at all – simply
bruised. Mayhap, they are trying to persuade themselves? I collect
broken hearts. Even though it’s not as easy as it sounds. Rummaging
deep (sometimes), I find there are incalculable amounts to add to
my collection. In every corner. In every junction. On every street. At
every meet. And though they all come from different places, they all
look the same. Crimson. Shiny. Broken. I collect broken hearts. You
may ask what I trade in return. That’s where the magic is, my friend.
They can choose what they want. Listening ear. Shoulder to cry on.
Someone to sympathise. Empathy galore. Laughter to share. Burden
to bear. Someone to understand. A helping hand. A friend indeed. A hug
that they need. Perchance, my story you shall share and foraging for
my compendium may become easier. Tell them, I collect broken hearts
(c) Palak Tewary, 2021
“Working with Write On! has given me new experiences. I have always been a writer but had never really edited before. Being Showcase Editor allowed my creativity to go in different directions.”
We can thank Palak for the brilliant Christmas poems Pen to Print and Write On! shared this year and last, with renditions of Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah and A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore, which she video-edited together and produced for us.
But she doesn’t stop there. Palak often brings her creativity into work, getting involved with projects in HR, social media and marketing, as well as feeling passionate about being a mentor for others.
Making digital versions of her poetry was a natural progression for Palak, as she tells me she’s always been technically minded and viewed creating videos as another avenue to share her poetry with new groups of people. Just like her drive to self-learn how to write poetry, she taught herself how to create and edit videos and encourages herself to keep learning.
Palak will be launching a poetry book, Depiction, with 25-30 poems focusing on everyday life but with a hopeful slant. This will be available on Amazon, so keep an eye on our Saturday Spotlight page for the big release date.
Being a poet and author myself, I’m always interested to know how my fellow creatives deal with writer’s block. Palak advises taking out solo time, just for you. She likes to take a trip or sit with nature, ideally near an open body of water and just reflect on things for a while. Being in nature is one of her major sources of inspiration.
One final question, of course, was to find out if Palak had a favourite poet. She admits that her early love for rhyming verse has stayed with her and enjoys the classics such as William Wordsworth and Edgar Allan Poe, but also enjoys Hindi poetry as well. I was thrilled to listen to Palak recite Shehar ki is daud me daud ke karana kya hai? from the film Lage Raho Munnabhai, which explores why would you would cede those pleasurable little moments to the rat race. Instead, you should stop and take time to smell the flowers. You can read the full poem and see the English translation on Palak’s blog.
Palak’s Tips For New Poets
- Put down your thoughts first
- Learn to enjoy writing free verse
- Use words in the best way that makes sense to you
- You can always learn the technicalities later
To listen to Claire’s interview with Palak on Write On! Audio and hear her read Hindi poetry, follow this link.
Connect with Palak: palaktewary.com, on Twitter and Instagram: @palaktewary
Connect with Claire: clairebuss.co.uk, on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok: @Grasshopper2407
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I'm split down the middle, half logical and half creative. My job feeds my desire for logic, while the poetry fuels my creativity.