Umar Siddiqui is a voracious Disney fan and fashion aficionado. He earned his BA degree from the University of CA, Riverside, and his MA degree in Mass Communications from Cal State Northridge. He loves writing, reading, going to Disney and the beach, and dabbles in working out. He plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work. His books include Weightless, Woven Words, a mental health-related poetry book, and Float Your Boat, a self-help book. His book Candid About Couture is currently in production.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I thought of how it would translate into a book cover. As you can see, the book’s name is alliterative, which was my intention for it all along. The words are “weightless” in the sense that they are fluid and can exist everywhere at any time. The poems and words in the book are “woven” because not only did I weave them together, but they are woven into the fabric of society.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
I was thoroughly amazed and amused. I conveyed to Atmosphere Press’ design team that I wanted to evoke a shadowy quality on the word “weightless” and for “woven” I wanted it to look like a basket so that it can elicit a sense of things that are woven. The team stylized words themselves and I was extremely and exceptionally pleased with the cover. Holding the book in my hands was (to restate a cliche) the “icing on top of the cake.” It felt official, like my degrees were not as useless as I thought, because I did use them to write the book—to an extent.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I have always been into writing. It is a salient form of connection to the self and to the world. It is not only a way to convey feelings but literally a way to put them on paper. Once you put them on paper, my feeling is that you can more easily navigate and conquer them. You never have to let them conquer you!
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
I love the band Florence + the Machine. They have quite a few songs about recovery, like their song Delilah and more recently Choreomania. Choreomania is about dancing yourself to death. What I take away from the song is unbridled joy and feeling euphoria for no reason—because you never have to have a reason to feel joy or, more literally, dance. They have another song, Free, with a line I love: “it picks me up, puts me down, picks me up, puts me down, 100 times a day.” That refers to anxiety and refers to it as incessant, because it is. I am really into alternative/indie music and Maroon 5. I think Thunder by Imagine Dragons and Afraid by The Neighbourhood should go on it. Afraid says “I’m afraid, somebody else might take my place.” I think that’s also a recurrent thought and I confront that in many contexts. It’s universal.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
Working with Atmosphere Press was—in a word—personable. I liked how I was able to interact with every team member! They made all of the expectations and process abundantly clear at every step. They were my starting point for U.S. publishing (I have a book I had published in Pakistan called Color Me Flawed). As the poems in my book suggest, life is a journey, and Atmosphere Press was just the beginning!