e.e. cummings, bhakti poetry and the individuality of the universal experience | pessoa, ginsberg, anaïs nin

in my undergraduate degree, i studied western poetry, and one of the poets i focused on was the beguiling e. e. cummings. in the past two years, i have been exclusively exploring eastern poetry in my postgrad, and it is only recently that i have begun to see how the two apparent different worlds and approaches illuminate each other. one of the elements i am most interested in at the moment is the process of individualising the universal experience; or how to express the universal through means of individuality.

this, with relation to cummings and bhakti poetry: cummings, a pioneer of experimental poetry, created his own language, which functions, i would maintain, like an authorship stamp: he used conjunctions as nouns, rewrote linguistic rules, introduced spacing as verbs etc. his poetry addresses themes looked down upon by other avantgarde poets of his time (and our time!) such as love and nature, yet it is the creation of his own language and the erotic notes of his poetry that revolutionise and freshen the apparent cliché of his subject matter.

similarly, bhakti poets, who write about ‘common’ topics such as love and separation, revolutionise these universal themes by pinpointing the object of desire to be God, and by introducing eroticism as worship. and, their authorship stamps (example: Akkā Mahādevī’s Chennamallikarjuna – more on this later!) distinguish and establish their poetic voices as individual in the context of universality.

fascinating how the experience can be both universal yet unique as it expresses itself individually through us, and how marvellous the intricacies of language and poetry are, how beautifully they thread us together through traditions, genres, times and worlds! 🤍

sidenote, i did use the word ‘cliché’ as a convention, but i don’t believe in clichés exactly because of this reason.

part of my #poetrybeautyseries, in which i share my favourite poetry lines and muse on their significance! on pessoa:

to me, fernando pessoa is one of the most fascinating poets to have graced this earth. he created 81 heteronyms for himself – meaning, 81 different characters or identities he assumed while writing. each had a different personality, background story, style. in awe with the mind-blowing imagination of this beautiful man. here’s a fragment from ‘discontinuous poems’, which he wrote as alberto caeiro, and which is grounded in a non-dual view, in my opinion. planning to make a video about him soon 🖤

on ginsberg:

although this quote is well-known, its context isn’t! it’s an excerpt from an interview with Ginsberg from Writers Digest, edited by Bill Strickland (p.47), in which he talks about the importance of expressing yourself without caring for validation or recognition.

“It’s more important to concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. Take (William Carlos) Williams: until he was 50 or 60, he was a local nut from Paterson, New Jersey, as far as the literary world was concerned. He went half a century without real recognition except among his friends and peers.

You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening. If you’re grasping to get your own voice, you’re making a strained attempt to talk, so it’s a matter of just listening to yourself as you sound when you’re talking about something that’s intensely important to you.”

songs of youth | foreword

foreword: “The one consistency in my life, from childhood to the teenage years of angst and to the blooms of young adulthood, has been writing. I wrote to make sense of the world around me and of myself, I wrote to express myself, I wrote to connect to the world and to myself.

This is a collection of poetry written between the ages of sixteen and twenty. Brian Molko of Placebo, who was the soundtrack to my teenage years and the one who hypnotised me with rawness and alluring born-to-die sadness, once said that, when you are a teenager, you react to the world that surrounds you with great emotionality and intensity, with full heart. He mused that growing older is a process of finding semblances of sanity. This collection aims to illustrate exactly that; it is not written by an adult looking back with maturity, nor tenderness to their early years, but by the teenager who is in the midst of experiencing the turbulent highs and lows of being thrown into life.

This collection of poetry was a creative project I compiled as an undergraduate student of Creative Writing at Lancaster University. It includes unpublished work, as well as work that has already been published.

It is structured in three sections: ‘teenage angst’, ‘my loss is my root’ and ‘at last, light’, which chronicle the journey to adulthood through churn, grief, and joy.

You may notice that the poetry is written in lowercase. More than an aesthetic choice, lowercase marks the teenage search for identity and reflects how disconnected teenagers feel to themselves. As a teenager myself, I found it difficult to capitalise ‘I’-s, as it seemed as if I was proclaiming who I was before I knew.

This collection explores the beginning of the search for the ‘I’.


🕊 the cover art i fall in love with more and more every day is by Holly Robinson🖤🤍🖤

kindle: https://amzn.eu/d/0duef5g

paperback: https://amzn.eu/d/0duef5g

(u.k. links, do message me for the link if you are from another country & are interested in ordering 🖤 thank you so!!) 🕊

teenage angst, placebo rage | songs of youth

“teenage angst” is the first section of my book, “songs of youth”, and it is compiled of poetry i wrote as a raging teenager. i entitled it after the eponymous placebo track, in which brian molko scratchily sings: “since i was born, i started to decay”.

in the depths of my teenage angst, i followed placebo on tour and wrote live reviews of their delicious gigs! what a better day for a tender run through memory than today, the 3rd of may – the 2nd of may is considered the official placebo day by ‘cebo lovers. you can read “Placebo: Desire, Heartbreak & Dark Romanticism” here:

🎸 (eng) https://www.flickofthefinger.co.uk/…/placebo-wembley…/ (2017)

🎸 (ro) https://www.dissolvedmagazine.com/placebo-desire-heartbreak/ (2017) – lengthened!

since songs of youth came out, i have been revisiting my favourites and sinking into brian molko’s voice. it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that i wrote most of this collection with their tunes ringing in my ears or chest.

i am so happy that they exist & i can delight in their music. forever grateful that they raised me on tones of diffidence, with an appetite for delirious experiences – and freedom. 😁

you can order my book here:

polaroid of me teenage angst-ing in london after a spectacular placebo gig in 2018. 𝖏𝖚𝖘𝖙 𝖓𝖎𝖓𝖊𝖙𝖊𝖊𝖓, 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖆 𝖉𝖗𝖊𝖆𝖒 𝖔𝖇𝖘𝖈𝖊𝖓𝖊 📽 (by the way, i turned nineteen at a placebo gig, screaming these lyrics at the top of my lungs!)

songs of youth | my first book of poetry is officially out!

over the moon to share that my first collection of poetry, “songs of youth”, is officially out & available for purchase on amazon!! 🥰🤍 incredibly moving to hold my poetry in my hands for the first time today. 😊

🕊 “songs of youth” is a collection of poems written between the ages of sixteen and twenty. it explores the journey to adulthood through tones of teenage angst, grief and joy. brian molko of placebo, who was the soundtrack to my teenage years and the one who hypnotised me with rawness and alluring born-to-die sadness, once said that, when you are a teenager, you react to the world that surrounds you with great emotionality and intensity, with full heart. he mused that growing older is a process of finding semblances of sanity. this collection aims to illustrate exactly that; it is not written by an adult looking back with maturity, nor tenderness to their early years, but by the teenager who is in the midst of experiencing the turbulent highs and lows of being thrown into life. it explores the beginning of the search for the ‘I’. ​

🕊 kindle: https://amzn.eu/d/0duef5g
🕊 paperback: (available in most countries and to roll out in a few more soon!) https://amzn.eu/d/grVyxyZ

🕊 note: if you’re using kindle, please lower the text size to minimum to preserve the poetry formatting which is inherently tricky to convert digitally, as the larger fonts create misalignments within the text 🤍 thank you!!

🕊 huge thank you to my dearest friend Holly Robinson, who did me the great honour of gracing me with her talent by creating the cover art of my collection 🤍

🕊 i have created a new ig account where i will be sharing my poetry, you can find me at: @songs.of.youth 🖤

my poetry collection “songs of youth” is #3 on the hot new releases in women’s poetry list on amazon! 🥰💙 thank you to everyone who has been ordering & reading it, i am so moved. 🙏 it has been my childhood dream to have a book of my own and it is very fulfilling to have the dream materialise. the ending stanza of my collection is:

“in the light of sovereignty / my little girl is lovingly held / by my woman”

and it has surely felt like this to have my words published and shared with the world. so grateful. 💙

🕊 kindle: https://amzn.eu/d/0duef5g

🕊 paperback: (officially available in all the countries enrolled in amazon’s publishing program)

u.k. link: https://amzn.eu/d/0duef5g

u.s.: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C2SH6KN5

france: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B0C2SH6KN5

italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B0C2SH6KN5

just listed the first four here, do message me for the link if you are from another country & are interested in ordering 🖤

🕊 the gorgeous artwork is by the most talented Holly Robinson💙

thank you again to anyone reading my words & so much love 🤍

to live, to cry a little, to bring a touch of beauty

the last few days have been tender, and last night i was happy to reconnect with a friend from university whom i studied film with. we exchanged kind words as well as poetry. after we both shared that we warmed each other’s hearts, i found myself thinking how much i treasure these brief moments of connection, yet how i often don’t enjoy them fully because i generally am so immersed in my mind palace and narratives, so overly focused on my insecurities, internal drama or questions of right and wrong that the beauty of life passes me by. i mentally noted a line i could have seen in a poem, ‘to bring and receive a little beauty to and from others is enough’, and i scribbled this quick poem this afternoon. 💗

to live
to cry a little
to bring a touch of beauty to others
to keep my heart soft even when i’m scared
to feel my childhood’s wounds with tenderness
to share my mind with fullness
to come to understand the world with my fingertips
what else is there

maybe i’m alright as i am 

the only one who can deliver you is yourself

i was never a loyalist to my homeland,

but when i saw the trees

that had towered over my head

in my teenage years,

i graced the earth with my knees

and raged.

to the girl sitting by the lake

counting good omens on stones

and stringing her worth on fair words:

the only one

who can deliver you

from your despondency

is yourself.

reflections written in the park i walked every day in during the most tumultuous years of my teens. as the trees have changed, so have i, yet as the trees have remained the same, so have i. leaving home with renewed faith in the only one who can deliver me: myself. 🤍

📸: cișmigiu bloom!

to seal my heart / is to deprive myself of God | bhakti poem by téa nicolae

in the depths of betrayal,

do not, under any circumstance,

seal your heart.

for years, you intricately

pushed yourself to unglue it.

to forfeit that effort

is to lose the rawness of God

tasting herself in you

as both the flutter in your womb

and as the pain in your left lung.

to seal my heart
is to deprive myself of God.

in this life,
there is much i have allowed.

but this,
this, i will not allow.


~ note to myself. 🖤

king’s cross hotel – first draft

i’m watching the rain wash the streets
thinking, fuck! like a smith beating a hammer hot, i’ve been warring with myself for too long.

when i was sixteen, i thought i was meek
so i slid viciousness between my teeth
when i was nineteen, i thought i was cruel
so i choked on sugarcane, oblivious that
it is impossible to only sustain yourself on rock candy
when i was twenty-two, i thought i couldn’t trust myself with my heart, so i gifted it in a music box
in the hopes new hands would care better for it

i watch my thoughts drop like pearls on canvas and decide that
my gospel is the chambers in my chest

the chambers in my chest
housing sweetness
the sweetness of the tears streaming down my cheeks under the neon lights on oxford road
the sweetness of the rage carving my fingertips in sand dunes
the sweetness of baring myself soft to a new pair of well-meaning hands despite fears of being young in all the wrong ways

i listen to the waves of being echoing in my navel and wonder
what if
my path is one of softening instead of breaking
what if
i can trust myself with my heart?

last night i felt alive under the lamp poles and monsoon sky, listening to lana singing about harry nilsson whispering in her ear, “come on, baby, you can drive” and i thought
come on, baby, i will drive.

“king’s cross hotel”, quick poem i wrote this morning watching the rain. early rough draft so bear with me. 🖤

your mouth is the fire | bhakti poem by téa nicolae

your call is the cinder
your mouth is the fire
burning the tips of my fingers,
weaving my thoughts in gold wire.

my tears are the milk,
my oblations are the flowers
gliding onto the blest thāli,
pouring into fire that devours.

your curls are the waves,
your teeth are the moons
cooling the ārti of my heart ,
more precious than kingly boons.

my love is the oath,
my longing is the path
jostling me to you,
enough to endure the world’s wrath.

monsoon one, tell me
when my yearning reaches the skies
are you the sunlight
bathing my eyes?

thāli – metal plate used in rituals of worship, on which offerings of fire and water are laid.
ārti – Sanskrit for ‘affliction’ or ‘distress’, as well as an alternative modern spelling for āratī, a ritual in which the light of a burning flame is offered to deities.

.❀。• *₊°。 ❀°。 my creative contribution to the Florilegium Anthology .❀。• *₊°。 ❀°

🖤🥀🌼 FLORILEGIUM 🥀🌼🖤 is an anthology of fiction & non-fiction literature compiled by the 2022 cohort of the Warwick Writing Programme, birthed out of love for writing and out of commitment to expression and self-discovery through the art of writing. Florilegium features 21 emerging writers and it holds short stories, flash fiction & poetry. it was a pure delight to work on this collection with my very talented colleagues and it is a joy to see it out in print! the Florilegium launch was held in february in London 🖤 photos from the launch below!

lemon tree flare | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

i had thought
that i was just a girl
who wanted to plant lemon trees
but my hot blood scorched
the vine trailing on the windowsill.

you are pulling me to you by my teeth
and i follow happily.

exploring the warm tones of warwickshire beauty 💛

i followed you into the seven seas
and i followed you into the circle of mountains
i have been calling you with folded hands
and now i will dance to you
with my mouth open
and with flowers woven into my skin tissue.

monsoon one,
did you know
that the crevices of my heart
can hold you whole?
did you know
that the fire in my belly
can swallow the three worlds?

i know you did,
i know you did.