Double major undergraduate publishes debut collection
Hailing from Mauritius, 21-year-old double major Creative Writing (Literary Studies) and Communications and Media Studies student, Benazir Mungloo takes a deeper look at the issues affecting women worldwide, creating poetry which delves into these multifaceted and often complicated problems.
Benazir Mungloo started writing when she was in the midst of high school. But really, her writing began when she was much younger, when her father noticed his daughter had a certain proclivity with language and enrolled her in various language courses. Benazir now has verbal or written literacy in 6 languages.
With busy parents, Benazir found her outlet through language and once the option of blogging became available, the young writer leapt at the opportunity to share her content with the world.
A journalist who wrote for a paper in Mauritius discovered Benazir’s blog, recognising the maturity of her posts ranging from women’s issues to other personal feelings she shared, and encouraged his editor to start an op-ed column for Benazir, and was trained as a journalist.
“Everyone in my country started to know me, saying this girl who is just 17 has started writing for a newspaper,” she said.
But it was the call of poetry and fiction which Benazir was drawn to as a means to express herself. Benazir turned to poetry and fiction but used social media to share her works. She found a lot of people related to it, frequently wondering how a younger person had a more mature outlook.
“[My poetry] is not about topics that are related to me but topics that I find concerning,” she said.
“I have a very strong preference to write about women’s issues. In all my writing, you will find poems on femininity, the bond between mother and daughter and other women’s issues.”
“In one poem, I expressed the idea that the woman is allowed to be a young mum at 21 and still get that degree. She’s allowed to hold a baby in one hand and a degree in the other.”
In total, Benazir has contributed to three anthologies and has had her debut poetry collection, Scarred and Healed, published in the UK in 2017.
But publication wasn’t always smooth sailing for the 21-year-old who says she has been wondering around trying to explore all kinds of topics that will connect with her.
It was when a publisher approached her via her Instagram micro poetry Instagram account, asking if she’d be interested in publishing her works. At this point, although enthused, Benazir felt she didn’t yet have a cohesive theme to bind her poems together.
“I had no theme when this book was being drafted but I grouped the poems together to try and see what I was talking about,” she said.
But it was at an academic dinner, listening to a female CEO share her journey to the top of the ranks and the sexism she faced on a daily basis, where Benazir found her calling.
“It struck me then that a woman is allowed to be everything and you’re not allowed to question her,” Benazir said. “This is when I got my drive.”
In one of her published anthologies, she explores the theme of sexual assault of young girls, and in another she writes about recovering from verbal abuse, abusive relationships and recovery.
“In another poem I talk about the notion of emotional abuse in a relationship and this is more trying to show people what it is like,” she said.
“I would say I’m proud of this one because in [Mauritius] not many people are aware that these issues really exist because a lot of people overlook it or don’t consider it.”
Currently, Benazir is undertaking the units Introduction to Fiction Writing, and Writing the world, the other and the self, as part of her Monash Literary Studies major, and says that a lot of what she learns here is very similar to what she’s trying to convey in her poetry.
“With introduction to fiction writing, everyday you’re writing, it’s practice, you get feedback from your friends. It’s like a supportive workshop,” Benazir said.
Her tutors and lecturers, she says, are very supportive, and she was able to meet one of her favourite poets, Dr Ali Alizadeh, a lecturer in contemporary creative writing, literary theory and literary studies at Monash.
“The teaching staff at Monash not only give you honest opinions and feedback, but also encourage you to go further,” she said.
“I want to keep on writing for the rest of my life, but I want to also have a ‘day job’ because [I think] you can’t live off writing. This is why I’m also doing media and communications because I like it, and I want to work as a public relations officer later.”
“It’s a good combination because you get to learn how to market your book!”