If you’re a fan of the London poetry scene then you will have definitely seen Neelofer Nova grace the stage at least once. Not only have we had the pleasure of working with Neelofer on the launch of Wordplay & Flow, but we get the inside scoop on what her life has been like navigating the life of being a poet, the inspirations behind her work as an advocate for women, and so much more. The London based poet, creative, and workshop facilitator has been hitting stages since the early 2000’s, and hasn’t looked back since. Fast forward to 2021, Neelofer is still sharing poetic vibes that capture audiences of all kinds.
What challenges have you faced as a creative?
As a Pakistani female in the poetry scene, Neelofer has faced many challenges from being stereotyped to judged for her views. It wasn’t easy to convince people that pursuing poetry and music was a legitimate path to follow. It wasn’t until BBC radio were sending cars to pick her up for a show that people started to recognise how much these artistic forms meant to her. She has always advocated that we need to encourage ethnic minorities to pursue their passions without the fear of being judged, or discouraged.
As poets, and creatives in general we know that it can be difficult to find a balance between doing what you love and paying the bills.
Poetry gigs don’t always pay and it takes time to get a good publishing deal, so making a living as a full-time poet is a very difficult thing to achieve.neelofer nova
Poets and creatives in general often have to put in double the time to work on what they love, and commit to their daily job. Neelofer’s passion about representation within the poetry scene has led her to express her frustration at how male dominated the poetry community has been over the years. Recently has she observed that this is changing as more female headliners are booked for larger events, and more female poets are setting up new initiatives of their own.
The work can take a toll on you creatively and impact your energy. The hustle is not an easy one, so I salute all the poets out there who are putting in the work.neelofer nova
How did you find working on poetry during the pandemic?
Neelofer used poetry as a tool to make sense of the world and express how she was feeling during one of the darkest times across the world. The past 18 months have allowed her to find new ways to push her pen, which she states has yielded some of her best poetry yet.
If I didn’t have poetry, the pandemic and the lockdown would have been 10 times harder for me. In a funny way, the pandemic causing the world to go on pause gave me time to really focus on my craft. I know the power of poetry and the profound impact it can have on your mental health.neelofer nova
What would you say your biggest achievement is?
Poetry and music has been the foundation of Neelofer’s success and still is to this day. From working with producers in Chicago and Miami to mentoring workshops in an Academy based in Wyoming, she has pretty much done it all locally and internationally. Over the years she has made multiple radio features across the BBC, Australian, and American stations, and recently performed on the Bafta winning ‘Life & Rhymes’ poetry series televised by Sky Arts.
I felt like I was a part of British poetry and broadcasting history. Finally spoken word is getting the recognition and exposure that it deserves. Representing for London poets and being seen on a major channel was definitely a game changer for me. We are on the path to taking the art to the mainstream where it belongs.neelofer nova
What advice would you give to upcoming poets and artists?
As a poet and artist who has been gracing the stage over decades, Neelofer has become an inspiration to not only emerging poets, but to young people that want to express their own truths through their pen. The foundation of her advice for new creatives is to be yourself always.
Be less concerned with what society tells you that you should be. Be fearless, take risks, and don’t ever be afraid to stand out from the crowd. Disrupt the norm. Be authentic and original in your style of delivery. No one wants to hear the same style of poetry twenty times in a row. Leave it all on the page then leave it all on the stage.Neelofer NOVA
We couldn’t put in any better, and the fire behind Neelofer Nova’s words is why she has cemented her place in the poetry scene for many more years to come. Follow her journey across socials and events all over London: @Neelofer_nova
Cover photographer: @whatchristophersaw
Feature photographer: @poetcurious