Pavana Reddy on Poeticizing Female Power

story by Sharanya Pogaku

art by Joyce Jiang

a soft woman is simply a wolf caught in meditation - pavana reddy Poetry is known for its ability to translate words on paper into feelings in a reader’s heart. Sometimes it’ll hit you so hard, you’ll get goosebumps and just sit still in awe, reading the poem again and trying to comprehend why you feel the way you do. It’ll stir up emotions that you didn’t even know you had, or nurture the ones you feel the most. This is exactly the way I felt when I first stumbled across the works of Pavana Reddy.

Pavana Reddy performs poetry at the University of Michigan.

A young poet based in Los Angeles, Pavana has made her mark in an increasingly diverse, activist, youth-driven internet. In the new age of ever-proliferating Instagram poetry, it’s hard to find poems with both quality and emotion. But Pavana's poems prove to come from a deep place - you can see the vulnerability and the heart that she pours into every single piece. It's no wonder that her raw, authentic pieces have earned her near-celebrity status, with over 67k followers on Instagram who look up to her for her candor and creativity. The poems paint beautiful and serene pictures, filled with images of nature like the sun, flowers, the moon, and--my favorite--wolves.

Pavana’s first book, Rangoli, explores many different themes, including feminism and being a girl, feelings of love, loss, and growth, and being a “foreigner." This heartwrenching collection travels through the dynamics of diaspora and colorism across borderlines and cultures, as well as those within. Pavana herself grew up in a Fijian/Indian household. To her, writing poetry was her way of coping with being caught in between different cultures and answering questions that she had.

Her next book, where do you go alone, is forthcoming, marking her momentum as a rising literary star.

It’s so inspiring to see a woman--specifically, a woman of color--put out her feelings into the world, especially by posting on the wide, democratic platform of Instagram. Social media has given us an opportunity to share and connect, but to be vulnerable and reveal your true emotions online is never easy. In a world where young women on social media are expected to cultivate picture-perfect profiles of themselves, Pavana is raw and real.

Still, linking her fame to her online presence is an adventure and challenge that Pavana continues to grapple with. Pavana feels that she’s not as generous with herself when posting on Instagram, but if she ever feels that her personal writing experience is being jeopardized, she has taken time off of social media. Because ultimately, writing is a way of healing herself, and she emphasized the need for her to write for herself - not her audience - showing how confident and true to herself she really is.

Pavana Reddy is an paradigm-shifting artist and an Instagram influencer, marking a renaissance of youth-powered art. But more essentially, she's a powerful woman who knows herself. Her poetry is magical and she is a true trailblazer for women of color. She wants young poets to never let anyone rob them of their voice and to keep practicing their craft. She credits her success to trusting her voice and not being afraid of rejection.

i have silences buried so deeply i weep when they blossom

- pavana reddy