Prisha Mehta is a ninth-grade student at Millburn High School, NJ. She is very passionate about her writing, and she aspires to be a successful author one day. She has won many writing awards, including several Scholastic Gold Keys, and is also a National Gold Medalist and an American Voice Award nominee this year. When she isn’t writing, she can often be found scrolling through psychology articles, sketching in her notebook, or, of course, reading. You can find out more about her at prishamehta.com.
Is it you that I see in the eyes of the wounded,
Through the beating hearts of dying men?
And you that tears holes in the fabric of hope
Strands us ‘til sunrise, trapped in demon’s den?
As the streetlight chases the shadows away
Why is it you always stay?
A Conversation between Prisha Mehta and Courtney Felle
1. Hi, Prisha! We loved your short poem “Despair” and the way it not only talks about but talks to despair. How did you develop the idea of having a conversation with an abstract concept like sadness?
Despair may be an abstract concept by definition, but in many ways, it has a presence of its own. It can be a fierce adversary, battling against you each day and bringing you to your knees. It can be a lingering shadow, curling into the back of your mind and haunting your memories. It can even be a companion, familiar and yet unwelcome, unchanging, and ever-present. That’s why I decided to address it directly.
2. In addition to its brief length, which is already a constraint, “Despair” has a relatively strict rhyme scheme. What do you consider the role of rhyming and structure to be in a poem, especially in an already condensed, confined piece?
I find that rhyme often adds an element of beauty to a poem, as well as a certain level of cohesion. That being said, it doesn’t come without its dangers; by choosing to stick to a strict scheme, the writer risks interrupting or even warping the natural flow of the piece. Rhyme can add a lot to a poem, but sticking to the scheme shouldn’t be the priority.
3. What do short poems enable that longer poetry can’t accomplish?
Poems usually have a spark of inspiration—the two lines that come to you as you’re waiting in line for the movies, or the half-finished stanza that you scribble on a napkin in the middle of brunch. Longer poems take that spark and stretch it out, fanning it into a flame; and while they’re beautiful in their own right, the original inspiration can be dimmed or lost altogether. Short poems, on the other hand, are electric. They’re like sparks caught in time, fragments of pure thought and emotion.