August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Interview with Fawzia Muradali Kane by Deborah Gaynor
Author Page — Poetry PF
1. Which is your favourite poem that you have written and why?
There’s no single all-time favourite for me. There are poems that go through my thoughts constantly, for some months sometimes, but I’m not sure whether this is because I like them or if this is just part of the mental editing process.
There may be a particular poem at some key point in my life that resonates with whatever I’m going through at the time, at the moment it’s “Curfew”, written during the State of Emergency in Trinidad last year.
I guess I like the poems that mean the most to me in a personal and very private way, where readers may assume meanings that are completely different to my intention. That does not mean that a reader’s interpretation is any less valid – after all, a poem will still work on some level if it manages to provoke some feeling of recognition in them. It’s just that sometimes, the codes in the phrases may reflect a specific event or feeling, that is so personal, I don’t think it necessary for anyone to know the true reason behind its creation.
2. Where do you get your inspiration from for your poetry?
Poets will probably say “anything and “everything”. For instance, with “Curfew”, I was staying at my mother’s in San Fernando (September 2011), the weather was boiling, and there was all this turmoil going on out in the streets during the day. But at night, because of the curfew, the silence outside became a presence as strong as fear. Even though it was probably the safest (crime-free) time in memory. I wrote in one sitting at night, about the heat wrapping itself around everything, and while writing, Lex our pot-hound sat outside my window, and began to howl at the moon. This went in too, and as the poem finished, I remembered the gang-speak of “dawgs” and “bitches” so this reference stayed and became a symbol of the cause of the State of Emergency (a spike in gang-related crime).
This is maybe too big a question to answer, for any poet. One method I have is to simply write a simple and (at least what seems to me at the time) a truthful no-frills description of what is in front of, or around me -whether actually there in front of me, or a mental image. The piece is worked up, and it may change into something completely different from the first words. Then it is workshopped, to me a crucial part of the process.
Many of my poems are dramatic monologues. Sometimes you can say more in another voice than your own. Once you’ve fixed the characteristics, attitude and tone of the voice, the rest can almost write itself.
3. What advice can you give someone who has never written a poem before?
Read. Read. Read. And you must want to write and not feel that it is an obligation. Get your work read by someone sympathetic but independent. There are so many courses out there for beginners, why not just choose a “starting to write” one and see how things develop. Oh, and don’t forget to keep reading.
4. Does your job as an architect ever influence your poetry?
Years ago, I used to try to keep the 2 disciplines separate, but it’s an impossible task. When a building is lived in, it can retain aspects of the occupants’ lives, even when derelict. Sylph Editions are due to publish a long sequence “Houses of the Dead”, which lists the detritus of lost lives in emptied spaces, linked by the current personal life of the surveyor, who has no choice but to walk through these spaces. I think these poems are perhaps the most overtly influenced by architectural practice.
5. Finally, you have a very beautiful and interesting name, does it mean anything?
I don’t know what it means. My father named my sisters and me after King Farouk of Egypt’s daughters (Ferial, Fawzia and Fadia).