Artist of the Week: Eulalia D’Souza
by Philippa Conlon | May 29, 2023
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Eulalia-Marie. I turned 21 yesterday. My parents are from India, and some of my grandparents are from Kenya. I write poetry, and I want to write prose but I suck at big projects. I have a really short attention span. I call it a “sunburnt attention span” as opposed to when you’re a kid and you can just do anything but, yeah, I write a lot of poetry.
What’s your artistic process like? How do you go about writing your poems?
So, when I started writing it wasn’t for the purpose of writing poetry: I’d just write my feelings down. I guess it would come out in an arty way and then I’d post them on my spam account (I don’t know if we remember those from five or ten years ago). My friends would say ‘Oh, that’s cool, you should publish them!’ And that went straight to my head, so I had it in my head that I wanted to be a poet. My artistic process now is a bit different. I still write down feelings, not because they might be worth something but just for the sake of writing them down – I find it really cool to look back on things I’ve written. Sometimes I feel inspired and I just write a poem, but the process really depends on what the poem is.
I had writer’s block during my second year, and I started doing prompts for Oxford student magazines instead. One was ‘Disrupt’: I wrote about the generation gap and how my family and I always have arguments about politics – they think I’m a snowflake and I think they’re a bigot. With the poem, I tried to wrestle that out. Another prompt was ‘Deluge’: my mind went straight to Noah’s Ark, where God literally flooded the world (as the story says) because the world got too messed up. I feel that the world is so messed up now, and if I was saving it, would I simply destroy it? My psychiatrist had mentioned PTSD because of my worldview being really cynical, so I thought, ‘if God wanted to destroy the world, does he have PTSD?’ That was the prompt I made for myself, and actually writing that out took a while because it didn’t feel like there was anything to wrestle out, it was like prose: I had the idea but not the execution.
The first piece of your work that I came across was ‘Udon Noodles’ and I worked on the Better Craftsmen’s commemoration of The Waste Land centenary with you. Both of those pieces played with visual and aural elements, not just the written word. Is that something that appeals to you?
I’m finding my voice a bit more. Even with this ‘Deluge’ poem, it was staying with what and how I can write. Very much in the style of that emo spam account, like ‘I have bad feelings and I’m writing about it negatively.’ ‘Udon Noodles’ was made with an old notes entry. I reread it, I hated how boring it was and I wanted to make it fun, so it turned into this narrative with different voices. I was reading it to a friend, and she went on Google Translate and had the AI voice read some of the lines – I really wanted that so I used some software. That was me breaking off from what I knew and being more experimental. So I played it at a writing group, which led to being asked on The Waste Land. I had never actually read it, but it sounded very cool. I felt very out of my depth. Out of my depth was right, actually, because I was assigned ‘Death by Water’. I’m so slow sometimes because I didn’t realise that it was a guy drowning, and I’ve had two drowning experiences (three if you count being baptised). I’d had some crazy nightmares that I wanted get goofy with. I used the character of Cassandra from Greek mythology, who had all these prophecies which no one believed. And I made my nightmares into prophecies because sometimes I feel like they are, so I wanted to play on that idea. It turned into a script, and me and my friends recorded it. Everything was based on real life or my dreams: the mice in the attic or behind the walls, for example, were based on the fact that my tutor had mice in his study. I managed to get a filmmaker in Chicago to make a short film to go alongside it. I’m definitely breaking away from the word on the page. I don’t read much poetry, but because I love hearing it, at open mic nights or on YouTube. I really want to make it written word something coming off or going beyond the page. There are a lot of spoken word albums now that are almost rap. I recently bought a keyboard and started teaching myself how to play it. I’m really trying to break away from the written word and explore different mediums.
What’s your favourite place to perform in Oxford?
Libby Pete hosted termly LGBTQ+ open mic nights, so they were my main audience. I started to connect with people from there. They had so much energy. We followed each other on Instagram, and we met up and we wrote poetry. It’s hard to say ‘we’re going to write poetry and actually do it’ but we did it through prompts. We’d have a conversation and then put a timer on and write something from that conversation, and then we would share what we wrote. We did exercises that we made up on the spot. Connecting and collaborating with people is a really special part of the creative process. I played ‘Udon Noodles’ at an open mic night too. I was meant to leave the floor when it played but there was a technical difficulty, so I sat there while it played. Everyone was staring at me while it was playing. It was really interesting, as if I were in some kind of exhibit and these voices were my voices and everyone was hearing what was going on in my head. It was really cool.
Who are your biggest and earliest influences, and why?
It started with Rupi Kaur. I started writing more and feeling that it meant something because of her work. Now, I don’t really have big inspirations. I just see things that are cool. With ‘Udon Noodles’, for example, I had just listened to this Joey Bada$$ song called ‘World Domination’, which mentioned noodles and I really wanted to play with that. The song started out really goofily and that inspired me to get goofy with my work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a project I started in Christmas of 2021. The first part is “Voicemails from Mercy”, fifteen voicemails that a crazy girl called Mercy leaves her brother. This Easter, I worked on the brother’s perspective. ‘Ramblings for Mercy’. It’s a play on both Elijah rambling to their sister Mercy and also rambling for forgiveness, but in a very roundabout way. They never really say sorry to each other. I’m aiming to release that soon. I managed to work with really dark themes but make it fun, goofy. It is technically finished but I keep thinking of new things for it. I’ll eventually put it on my Instagram (@greetingsextraterrestrials), which is very lowkey but I like having it as a vault of my poetry.
Where can you see yourself going in the future?
I’m very deluded. I have it in my head that I will make it one day. I’ll have my own universe. I don’t mean a solar system, but my own film universe, my own film industry. I have no idea how I’ll have enough money to purchase a film crew or whatever. I took singing lessons but that only lasted three weeks before I got distracted with another hobby.But that’s what I want. I want to do everything: make music, make films, but I can’t even sing so I have a lot of work to do to get there. I took singing lessons but that only lasted three weeks before I got distracted with another hobby. But realistically, I want to get a part-time job. Probably in a nursery, just hanging out with toddlers for half of my time and then for the other half of my time, I just want to write. I don’t really have an in-between. I just think in black and white. I’ll either be really famous and successful or I’ll be very lowkey but in both situations, I think I’d be quite happy.
Interview by Pippa Conlon.