Bengaluru-based poet Ruby Naaz’s Cubbon Park sessions are all about spreading love through poetry

“How did you know? I did not even tell you. How did you know that? This fits perfectly,” exclaims Sangeetha (name changed) as she reads from a piece of paper. Moments later, she breaks down. Words, which were trapped inside the reader for weeks or even a longer time, had just found space on a piece of paper lying in front of her eyes. What she coped with for long has just found a release! As the sobs gather pace, interjected and contradicted by the occasional laughter, she receives a warm hug from Ruby Naaz, who had handed Sangeetha the paper minutes ago. Ruby is a poet who writes poetry with the aim of spreading love and joy.

31-year-old Ruby Naaz is all about spreading joy. Photo: CtoI.
Ruby Naaz wrote poems for visitors at Cubbon Park on February 17, 2024. Photo: Connected to India.

The scene is a common sight on certain days at Cubbon Park, a botanical garden located in India’s Bengaluru city. Ruby writes her poetry sitting near tree 3315, a spot that has gone unchanged since she started her journey. While it’s not a weekly affair, the prior announcement on social media about her presence attracts a substantial crowd during the sessions. These, while mainly are gatherings that bring poetry lovers from across the city together, the sessions also offer, albeit unintentionally, a therapeutic experience for many.

Once someone reaches the spot, the name is noted down and the visitor waits for their turn for Ruby to interact on a one-to-one basis. Once the interaction is done, she starts to write and finishes each poem in about a quarter of an hour’s time. While the process is spontaneous and open, Ruby remains hawk-eyed and discourages others from reading the piece without prior approval from the person she’s writing for. When the poem is completed, Ruby takes a pen and goes through her work, meticulously checking for errors and then hands over the piece of paper to the reader, and then silently films them on her mobile phone as they read. The creative process, bearing a semblance of an on-demand delivery service, is surprisingly done free of cost!

Ruby Naaz takes 15 minutes to write a poem. Photo: CtoI.
Ruby writing a poem at Cubbon Park during one of her sessions. Photo: Connected to India.

What sets the 31-year-old apart is her writing method. While most writers today prefer the laptop or other electronic devices, Ruby Naaz uses a decades old typewriter, which was presented to her by a family member.

So, how did it all start? Speaking to Connected to India’s Senior Correspondent Sudipto Maity, just weeks short of her 32nd birthday, the poet refuses to stick to the norms!

“I started writing today,” she says, bursting into laughter. “I think if you ask any artiste, or any writer, anybody who is practicing something of that kind, they have to do it every day.” Ruby adds that her Cubbon Park journey started on July 15, 2023. In a little over seven months, Ruby Naaz has already written over 200 poems for strangers and friends who come to visit her at the park. She says that the idea was first conceived during a trip to the botanical garden. “I just figured that I’ll come from the following week and write for people and share the love.”

When prodded a little, Ruby takes a jog down memory lane and reveals that she was only three or four years of age when she started scribbling on the walls of their rented home. While there’s no document that verifies the nature of her ‘work’, she reveals that the same affected the family financially.

“My mom says that the owner [of the rented house] took away a huge portion of the deposit because I had scribbled on all the walls. I had scribbled all over and she didn’t get back her deposit. She keeps telling me, ‘You know you were such a mess. You kept on scribbling and the kind of trouble we have been through’,” Ruby says. She adds that now it’s part of an ongoing family joke as she has been able to use the talent to enhance her life.

Needless to say, the ability to not just write poems, but do so in quick time, with specifics from the visitor, is mostly about an individual’s confidence. When asked how she convinced herself to do these sessions frequently, she says, “I have always been privileged with this mindset that I can do almost anything that I set my mind to. You need to have a lot of love around you to have that belief, and have that faith constantly being nurtured.”

The poems are personalised in nature. Photo: CtoI.
One of Ruby Naaz’s poems. Photo: Connected to India.

That, coupled with the belief that poetry found her and possessed her, did the trick for Ruby Naaz. “I think it [poetry] found me and then it possessed me, and now I’m possessed by it as a medium to share all the love that I have and like anybody who’s possessed by a good ghost… can’t get rid of it,” she states.

But what if it stops one fine day? One of the issues that plagues authors and writers is a condition called writer’s block — a period marked by the writer’s inability to write or communicate. Ruby doesn’t believe in it. “I think writer’s block is a myth. In fact, any creative block is a myth,” she says. Ruby explains that the ‘fear of failing’ stops an individual from getting creative as they age. “You are emotionally constipated and you call it a creative block, which is an absolute bulls**t,” she adds.

Throughout the conversation, Ruby makes it clear that she isn’t ready to compartmentalise herself as a poet. Irrespective of the medium, her goal — to spread love and joy — remains unchanged. She says, “In any creative form that I can spread love and tell people that they are the work of art walking this earth, and they deserve all the best of things in this world… If I can do that in any form, I’ll do it… The power is not in the medium, the power is in us. Medium is a choice.”

When not writing poetry or interacting with visitors at Cubbon Park, Ruby Naaz spends her time helping budding writers with workshops. Currently, a perennial Bengaluru phenomenon — house hunting — has taken up much of her time. But she promises to pledge more time to her Cubbon Park sessions, making it a bi-monthly affair.

If you want to keep track of Ruby Naaz’s literary journey, follow on Instagram.