I was elated and fortunate to be given the opportunity to explore and expand Wordsworth’s thinking around the relationship between people and nature as ‘a dynamic, constantly changing dialogue’.
I think he would be intrigued and pleased this same conversation is taking place in another period with someone from a different cultural heritage. We live in a multicultural society that celebrates inclusivity and diversity. This is very apparent in urban areas, but lacking in rural Britain. We need more Asian and black writers and poets to interact with the countryside, bringing freshness of vision and imagination. Landscapes need to be reinvigorated and re-examined through new sets of eyes. I wanted to get out, feel the place, physically and spiritually, walking, absorbing scenery, connecting with surroundings.
You can hear me talk about my experience on BBC Radio Cumbria on this link.
Here is my interview with ITV News Border. I talk about breaking down barriers with my poetry and hopes to make the Lake District more accessible.
You can read the three poems I wrote in response to the commission by University of Cumbria by following this link.
The poems explore the theme of belonging and I have brought my own ‘cultural DNA’ to the landscapes made famous by the Romantic poets such Wordsworth, Coleridge and Robert Southey.
”Ruia’s strength comes from her uncanny taste for the narratives. It would be seen in the poem she has chosen for us. Poets can be very hard-hitting with a simple premise and divergent observations, they coalesce together to startle us. An insightful story-telling becomes a compelling social commentary. It seems Reshma is a master at it.”
Celebrating GandhiJayanti at Manchester Cathedral. October 2nd 2021.
It was a privilege to be asked to write and recite a poem celebrating Gandhi’s ideals of compassion and empathy within the serene majestic surroundings of Manchester Cathedral.
The world has had enough of bullets and blood. Of homeless wandering the earth.
The innocent trampled out of sight in senseless wars.
The victims of war and history keep knocking at our door.
How can we sleep at night when they roam the streets alone.
Sometimes it seems the oceans of the world are not deep enough to hold our tears.
Let us follow the footsteps of Mahatma and heal the broken and bruised.
Let his words be our guide as we
bend down and gather like flowers
the dreams of those left behind.
It is not too late to heal this world.
Let us take the leap.
Gandhiji is watching over us.
My Father and I is featured in Issue 5 of Dust Poetry Magazine, 24 September 2020. This issue devoted to the theme of Portraits.
A Manchester Love Story: The poem will appear in the anthology celebrating Manchester’s creative spirit. Mancunian Ways published by Fly on the Wall Press. It is an exciting book of wonderful photography and poetry, with work by Lemn Sissay and Jackie Hagan among others. The book will be launched on 16 October 2020.
Van Gogh’s Bed. 17 April, 2020, The Ekphrastic Review. The Ekphrastic Review is an online journal devoted entirely to writing inspired by visual art.
Van Gogh’s Bed
Saint-Paul Asylum, Saint-Rémy
The irises have gone.
Blue petals ripped by the mistral.
Swept over the vineyards.
The golden blur of the rolling fields.
The lavender is also gone.
Dry stalks like origami, the shade of Parker ink.
Inside your room the tourists pause,
mobiles in hand.
This is no time for selfies or dinner plans.
They circle your bed, saucer-eyed in disbelief.
‘To think his paintings go for a million bucks!’
The stage whispers are loud.
Don’t let them disturb your sleep.
Your bed is a pauper’s bed-sagging mattress.
Rusty metal frame, too narrow and small
for your thrashing limbs.
And your big head – a honeycomb of bones and headaches and visions too.
Swirly trees, shooting stars, the purple mole
on a young woman’s clavicle.
You prefer to keep them to yourself.
You lay this head down each night,
turning towards the square window
through which flutters
the cobalt handkerchief of the sky.
When This Is Over. 3 April, 2020, A Garden Among Fires
When this is over
You will remember
How the world was emptied of sound
Silence strolled the streets
In hush-hush slippers
In the garden the first butterflies of spring
Cartwheeling. Their smoked paprika wings
Tremble against the bottle green and blue dazzle of light
And you. Holding a cup of tea
Fingertips warm against the china
Watching and waiting for the world
To spin around
Covid-19 Colours. 28 March, 2020, PENDEMIC
In Bombay the hawker stands
in the green gloom of the Thespesia tree
To his left stretches the indigo bay
of the Arabian Sea
The white Hanuman temple crouches to his right
Empty but for an old woman in a mud coloured sari
moaning in pain
The afternoon is yellow like an over ripe banana
Black crows sit dazed on the temple steps
pecking their own feathered skin
‘Covid-19?’ The hawker repeats
eyes round in confusion
‘Yes I heard about it on the radio’
His forehead wrinkles Mouth droops down
He points to the mustard straw basket at his feet
There are plantains pineapples A papaya or two
‘Who will buy these? I have kids to feed’
He looks up and down the empty streets
‘Is it better to die of hunger or Covid-19?’
My poem Crossing the Black Waters was performed live by actors on 21 December as part of an international Solstice Shorts festival on one day in seven port town including Oeiras in Portugal, Greenwich, Clydebank, Hastings.
Reshma Ruia: Overheard at The National Portrait Gallery – Funny Pearls, 15 August 2019.
The bold lip that sneers. The curled eyelash. The body gift wrapped in feather and flounce, demanding your gaze. Cindy Sherman hangs on the walls, bouncing from Beverly Hills to Cape Cod donning disguises that titillate the senses. Madonna, Monroe, cocktail waitress and bored housewife. She’s been them all. She is a chronicler of a gilded age. But, you’re not listening. You wear sensible flat sandals and short grey hair. Your mouth has not kissed a lipstick in a hundred years.
You’re talking. Loud, urgent. Fish words swim out of your mouth, gasping for oxygen. The museum guard raises an eyebrow, buries a yawn. Shifts one buttock cheek, then the other on the folding metal stool. You are two kind ladies of late middle age. He won’t disturb you. He’ll let it pass.
This is what you have to say:
‘Brother Richard is still being a dick. He forgot to ring mother on Mother’s Day. Sister Margaret has hit the bottle again. What about your allotment? Did you catch the thieves? Who would’ve thought courgettes were so prized. Not courgettes? Sorry did you say runner beans? My hearing is not what it used to be. You got the smear test back. Yes, my knees are playing up again. That homeopathy woman you suggested. I think she’s a quack. Three pounds fifty they charged for a measly cup of coffee in the café upstairs. What did I tell you? Greggs would’ve been better. I worry about Paul most days. The other day he left the crossword unfinished. Again. Most unlike him and yes, did you visit the grave? Can’t believe he’s been ten years gone? And the kids? Mark’s planning on emigrating to Australia. You mean immigrating. No, I meant emigrating. It’s what rich folks do when they set up home in another country. This country is going to the dogs. Just look at that guard, lazy sod, not doing his job.’
A Mrs. Dalloway Kind of Day published in Lost Balloon, 24 April 2019.
Nose buried in a bouquet of flowers. She strides through the park. The distant hum of traffic. A bee’s snore in her ear. Easy enough to be happy. Toss a coin. Swipe a card. Buy the dress. The shoes. The jewels. Clap away spider web shadows. Lurking in the rooms. The hurt. The bruise. The dripping faucet of an eye. They belonged to another day. If only she could run back to her ten-year-old self. Chasing butterflies on the village green. Cheeks freckled with sunshine not age. A heart somersaulting in joy. Limbs dripping youth.
Recipient of the 2019 First Collection Award by the Word Masala Foundation and SkyLark Publications.
A Love Story published in The Good Journal Issue 3 edited by Courttia Newland.
The Good Journal is a quarterly literary journal showcasing the very best writers of colour in the UK. It was founded by Nikesh Shukla and Julia Kingsford.
He wakes up next morning in a black and grey world.
Reduced to a matchstick figure in a Lowry painting.
Sucked clean of breath and bone, he feels
Entirely made up of memories. Of her. Of them.
The empty pillow by his side carries the weight
Of her absent head. She has stayed and been gone
A few hours but he has already
Built a lifetime with her. The wedding altar.
The kids. The summer holidays on the beach.
It is a mistake he will keep repeating.
With every one-night stand he picks up.
‘You have a homesick heart,’ they tell him.
Cupping his baldhead in their hands. Stroking his cheek
And his face where the wrinkles run deep
With absent minded fingers and upset voices
‘This is a business transaction Mister, please, don’t anchor your heart in us.’
His heart. He sees it like a balloon-untethered, unmoored, flying aimless.
And him running after it, outstretched arms and weeping skin.
That was it – the dream that startled him awake.
Him skipping and tripping
And falling as he chased his heart; it floated out of view.
The alarm clock shrills into life.
He checks his watch, and dresses in a hurry.
And reports for work
Where he spends his days filing returns for sad-eyed divorcees
And gas utility companies.
Asia Literary Review Poetry – No. 32, Winter 2016, Southall Blues
Asia Literary Review Poetry – In Memory of Flight MH-370
The cockpit dashboard blinks
A thousand eyes
Each dial a finger
Spinning him somewhere
Far beyond the star-rimmed sky
His head in a twist
Which way should he turn?
The continents whirl a dervish dance
The roar of the engine becomes
A soft insect bite on his ear
He slips a hand inside his pocket
And pulls out a feather
Tender like an early-morning kiss
He presses the feather against his cheek
And the day comes back
The wounded bird
From a long-ago childhood
He’d knelt by the roadside
Knees powdered in dust
Deaf to his mother’s impatient tugging hand
Carefully he’d plucked the single drooping feather
His stare never leaving the bird’s stone-hard eye
That even then foretold his death
Saudade. A Quarterly magazine of modern and contemporary poetry. Issue 2. 2016.
Still-Life in a Room
There are lives and lives
Circling out of reach
Dervishes dancing away
Leaving empty rooms behind
My body throws its arms
Around every friendly voice it meets
This ache to be understood
This ache to belong
Will someone step forward
And fill with sound
The silence growling in my ear
Will someone step forward
And smash the hands
Of the clock scratching
The graffiti marks of time
On my face.
Anthology in Italy. 210 Giovani poeti in 9 lingue.