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Student feature: Neha Allathur on poetry and perspective

By Lilian Varner

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design has created a new $25,000 prize to advance the project of one graduating senior.

For Neha Allathur, a junior from Sammamish, WA majoring in business and minoring in community action and social change, poetry has been a crucial outlet that has helped her to navigate life’s everyday obstacles as well as the unique challenges of the global pandemic. 

Allathur, who was featured this week on the U-M Arts and Culture student podcast, is a student blogger for Arts at Michigan’s arts, ink., where you can read her column “The Poetry Snapshot,” which features a confluence of her two favorite art mediums—photography and poetry—and examines how the two impact and compliment each other. 

University of Michigan Arts & Culture · Student Feature: Neha Allathur

Allathur’s exploration of various creative outlets such as writing have led her to both share her otherwise undisclosed personal reflections and to discover more ideas and perspectives from different works produced by others in her community.

Having dabbled in poetry since elementary school, Allathur finds that the medium helps her to take down observations and to consider things she otherwise would have deemed irrelevant more deeply. She highlights a couple she would often see during her morning commute or other little interactions throughout the week that stick out and are lacking a story. 

Her devotion to photography came later—sometime in high school—but Allathur has since found that photography and poetry have similar raw qualities that can work together to extrapolate otherwise meaningless moments. 

“I’ve always seen poetry as a derivative of speaking, and it allows me to express things that I maybe can’t bring myself to talk about or don’t want to talk about, and I really like that it’s a way for me to understand my thoughts and cope with things and elevate the way that I see the world,” she said.

Neha Allathur.

After stumbling upon an opportunity to work with Arts at Michigan just before her sophomore year, Allathur became inspired by the other students who were taking the time to focus on their creative outlets alongside their studies. 

Whether finding inspiration for her work from external observations, enticing studies, or a trivial moment, working on art allows her to consistently focus on something she loves, and to better understand the impact of those moments and their implications.

In this way, Allathur has found that the circumstances of the pandemic keeping her away from her home in Washington, and in relative isolation in Ann Arbor, have presented her with time to develop new concepts within her writing. This includes taking time out to consider her emotions, which came with a shift towards observing her internal thoughts and attempting to better convey them through her work. 

Hosted by Christina Shepich, U-M Arts & Culture student podcast features can be found on SoundCloud.

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