Poet Pavana Reddy Talks Love, Loss, the Emotions of Poetry
I am so excited to bring you this interview with the wonderful Pavana Reddy. Pavana, also known by her pen name MazaDohta, is an LA-based poet and songwriter. Her two poetry collections are Rangoli and Where Do You Go Alone.
Reddy’s appreciation for music, art, and life shine through in the stories she weaves with her poems. She is a source of light and inspiration within the poetry community, and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into her personal story.
Liz Newman: How long have you been writing poetry? How did you first discovery poetry and what has it meant to you?
Pavana Reddy: I’ve been writing poetry since I was about 7 years old. I read a book called The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, and this book was so magical to me that I was inspired to start writing poems about the characters. My interest in poetry really took off from there, and I started searching for poets with this insatiable hunger, as I still do today. Poetry has always been a form of escape for me; it’s my way to be alone even in the midst of chaos.
LN: Who has influenced you the most on your poetry journey? What experiences have shaped who you are as a writer?
PR: There isn’t a single artist or writer who has influenced me as strongly as my older sister. She was the one who introduced me to my favorite books and truly supported my love for writing. I can’t sit and write without thinking about her; losing her is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to survive, and that loss is present in all of my work.
I also grew up watching my mom raise my brother and me alone without ever spilling a drop of her own pain; in that sense, it was almost impossible for me not to become a poet when I was witnessing a poem like her unfolding in front of me every morning.
LN: When did you start sharing your poetry with the world, and what was that like for you? Was it scary, exhilarating, all of the above?
PR: I started sharing my poetry on Tumblr about 4-5 years ago under the pseudonym MazaDohta because I was too embarrassed to use my real name, and it has stuck ever since. It took me a while to start using my real name but when I did, I was terrified! Eventually, I got over the fear, especially with the warm feedback I received from other readers and writers; that community truly helped me build the confidence I needed to stop hiding.
LN: How has sharing your poetry on social media helped you reclaim your authentic voice and share your experiences with your readers?
PR: Sharing my work on social media for so long has made me understand platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr much differently, so I try my best to never fall into the trap of writing to get likes or followers. I always remind myself about why I even started writing in the first place, and if the poem doesn’t feel authentic to that story, I don’t share it. It’s very easy to forget your authenticity on social media, and that’s a game I refuse to play.
LN: You have such a refreshing poetic voice, hopeful and powerful all in the same breath. You have such a skill for discussing a myriad of emotions with eloquence and authenticity. How has poetry helped you on your journey to self-acceptance and healing?
PR: I am a very private person, almost painfully private, so sharing my feelings has always been difficult for me – which is why I choose to write instead. I use words to sort out my thoughts, and when I manage to do that and share it with the world, the response from readers telling me that they relate to something I never thought someone else would understand is so empowering.
Knowing I am not the only one sitting with these feelings is where the healing is; understanding that we are all going through something brings me so much comfort and hope. I feel less alone each time, and that is the only feeling I’m chasing with the work I do.
LN: Do you have a favorite place to write or brainstorm new poems? How does this creative space help you thrive as a writer?
PR: My favorite place to write and brainstorm and read is in my apartment with my cats. Writing is where I go to be alone, and it’s always been that way for me. I worked really hard to have a little writing space of my own, so I cherish it as much as I can because I know so many creatives who don’t have that. My creative space was earned, and that motivates me more than anything.
LN: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
PR: So much! But if I had to choose one thing – I funded every book of mine while working in a café, and I’ve made coffee for a lot of my readers who don’t even know it!