UNM’s very own Nisa Lee, second-year English Language and Literature student, published an anthology of her own poems last year in the form of a zine. IGNITE met up with her to gain insights into her work, what her inspirations and muses were, and how this zine ultimately came about.
IGNITE: What inspired you to make this zine?
NISA: This zine happened almost by sheer luck, to be honest — I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that I was going to work on a zine. I submitted the manuscript on a whim and the poems in DDMD had been poems that I wrote throughout high school. Well, I guess all’s well that ends well, because here I am.
IGNITE: Were you inspired by any particular poet?
NISA: Not really actually. Like many, I draw inspiration of course from other poets such as Sylvia Plath, but this zine in particular isn’t inspired by one specific poet.
IGNITE: What inspired you to get into poetry? How long have you been writing?
NISA: I’ve been writing poetry since I was about thirteen years old. Prior to that, I was actually a lot more interested in short stories. I can’t seem to pinpoint the exact driving force that led me down the path of poetry but I think my very first poem just happened pretty naturally. I was at the dining table, teenage angst and all, and just remembered thinking that I needed to put this down somewhere, and so I did. Now, I won’t go into details but you can be sure that it was really, really bad.
IGNITE: How long have you been writing the poems featured in the zine?
NISA: The poems in this zine were written throughout my teenage years on a piecemeal basis and were highly dependent on when inspiration struck. There was no particular schedule or timeline because I didn’t have any intentions to publish at the time of writing them.
IGNITE: Is this zine dedicated to anyone in particular?
NISA: This zine isn’t particularly reflective of my own personal life, it’s more of a reflection on life in itself. Poetry for me for a long time was just a safe space for my thoughts to find a home in someplace other than my head. It was initially never meant for an audience so no, it wasn’t written for anyone in mind but I do have a poem in there called “If Home Is Where The Heart Is” and that one was written for my mum, haha.
IGNITE: How do you feel after publishing this zine and distributing it? Has it been as successful as you envisioned?
NISA: After publishing my zine, I think the feeling of accomplishment lasted about 5 minutes at most before overwhelming terror found its way up my throat but I think that’s part and parcel of sharing any form of your art with the public. As I’ve mentioned earlier, poetry has always been a sanctuary of sorts for me, even when the poems got compiled into a zine, I didn’t really have many expectations at all but the response I’ve received so far has been beyond what I imagined. To have people pick up DDMD and actually resonate with the poetry in it has been a very humbling experience, to say the least, one that I will always be very grateful for.
“This zine isn’t particularly reflective of my own personal life, it’s more of a reflection on life in itself.”
IGNITE: What do you want readers to take away from this zine?
NISA: I think what I’d like for my readers to take away from this zine is just to remember that sometimes life just is the way it is. You can try to change a situation, a person, a feeling — but if it’s not meant for you, it will never be yours, and that’s okay. The journey to self-discovery and self-love isn’t a linear one, but there’s always a calmness to be found amidst the chaos.
IGNITE: Do you have anything to say to readers? Or others who might be interested in making a poetry zine themselves?
NISA: To anyone who might be interested in publishing a poetry zine, or any zine in general, my advice to you is this: Trust in yourself. The right time doesn’t exist, and fear will always be there like a loyal pet waiting on your doorstep. Despite what the voice in your head might be telling you, your words are important and they’re much bigger than any mistake you could ever make from trying. So, be brave and take that first leap of faith. I promise you, it’ll be worth it.
For those interested in getting a copy of Dreams, Delusions & Made Decisions (DDMD), you may contact Nisa herself through her Instagram (@nrhanisarz) or her publishers, Terbitan Langit, at +60142686381.
Written by Natasha Nor Azmi
Photography by Nisa Lee.
Featured: Dreams, Delusions and Made Decisions (DDMD) by Nisa Lee. Published under Terbitan Langit.