Interviewed by Shweta Kesari
1. What crucial role does literature play in your life?
Literature plays a very crucial role in my life, both
as my art form and as my guru.When I am feeling pressure from work, or other life stresses, I reach for poetry or a good novel. At times, I feel a need to escape and will unwind into the arms of the Sufi’s, the ghazal, or qasida.
2. What is poetry to you?
Poetry for me is the essence of all things– not
necessarily living things. It is used to express the deepest parts of the human soul and spirit. It is the seed of human expression. It is funny, I had someone ask me once upon a time, how I saw the world. I pointed to a nearby Oak Tree, and asked them what they saw— a tree, they answered. I replied, that I saw the sap inside the tree, moving through the trunk;the water feeding the finger of roots and moving into the leaves; the life that calls that tree home and all of the sunshine that warms their backs and young. Poetry sees beyond the normal world.
3. If not poetry than what and why?
If not poetry, then stage acting. Ihave always had a deep appreciation for stage actors. I would have to do something for a creative outlet. Not many people know, but when I was 17 I went to seminary. I was Chaplain of the university and went on to do a few sermons at my church in Colorado– a little theater if you will!
4. What is the thing which provoked you to come in
I have always loved writing, even as a child I
would write plays and invent stories for myself and my brothers. I dreamed that I was Scheherazade in Alf Leila wa Leila (One Thousand and One Arabian Nights) and knew that I wanted to be a writer at that early age.
5. According to you, who is the King of poetry?
For me the king of poetry is Federico Garcia Lorca.
There is no one that has his dimension and versatility as a writer. I am drawn to Middle Eastern writers and Middle Eastern forms of poetry (and novels).
Even though Lorca is Spanish, he portrays these themes beautifully in his work, as he was heavily influenced by the Arabic Moors in Andalusia. His Diván del Tamarit is an homage to the Arabic influence, and is one of my favorite collections of poetry.
6.Tell me about your next project and what are your expectations from it?
My next project is a large collection of poetry titled OPIATE from Garden Oak Press. I am looking for a mid-April release. I am excited about this collection as it further addresses themes of love, loss, longing–human desires. Ialso touch a bit on fairy tales and add a modern twist, as well as a Geysha sequence. I live in Türkiye, and so Türkish culture will always show itself strong in my work. At times, I write in a voice that I do not recognize– a edgy, raw, masculine voice; you will find more poems in this type of vein in my new collection.
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