August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Interview with Reza Mohammadi by Todi Quadri
1. How long have you been writing poetry? Why & how did you start
I have been writing poetry since my childhood but officially from the age of fifteen when I became the best teenage poet in Iran. After that I was invited to several poetry festivals. Why I started writing poetry I would say was probably because everyone in my family loved poetry and I had a greater chance than them to study, write and educate myself on poetry and also the chance to read more professional poems.
2. Did you always want to be a poet? When did you know that you wanted to be and when did you officially start calling yourself a poet?
To be honest, I did not actually want to be a poet. I was the best student in my mathematics course at college but poetry ruined my life in terms of my future plans with maths. I knew that I wanted to be a poet, when I started entering poet meetings. I began calling myself a poet when I became the best teenage poet as everyone including my family was calling me so.
3. I enjoy writing free verse poems in quiet surroundings – What is your favourite form or style of poetry (to read/to write/to perform) and where do you enjoy writing them?
I like writing my poems rhyming in Persian Ghazal which is an ancient Persian form of poetry writing. I also like to write freely as you said in free verse but with different structures borrowed from theatre and aspects of modern industrial life. I enjoy writing as I walk and in a noisy surroundings.
4. So what do you enjoy most about being a poet?
I enjoy knowing what is happening beyond language and words. Also, being a poet, you recognize a new way of thinking – different and deep thinking.
5. Which other poets inspire and/ or influence your writing?
I am firstly inspired by Persian poets Rumi, Bedil and Hafiz of Shiraz. I also like American poet Ted Hughes, Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kurdish poet Shirko Bikas and South American poets Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda. I also gain great influence off a range of poets from Turkey and Spain and languages such as Persian, Pashtu and Arabic.
6. Wow, you mentioned many poets. I like that your inspiration comes from poets around the world. I am also a fan of Hughes and Mayakovsky’s writing, but what is it about these poets that inspires your poetry the most, and why?
What I find inspiring about Hughes is his local childhood dialect which breathes across his poetry, holding them together like a staple and his attention to writing so freely with a new and original view of the world. I also like his wards of self indulgence and how he is so modern just like Mayakovsky. Mayakovsky inspires my poetry simply because he is so crazy. He specialises in a style of Russian futurism to enter industrial age tones to his popular poems.
7. Is there an aspect of your life that is particularly influential on what you write?
My student life is definitely an aspect of my life that is influential on most of my poetry or maybe more my childhood as a refugee boy in a refugee part of the Mashhad city in eastern Iran. There I learnt that people are divided into different categories, sections and nations without even knowing it. It was an important part of my life so I like to include it in what I write about.
8. Do you think that strong emotion is needed to make a good poem?
Poetry, and in fact all arts, tell secret stories and these stories come from human dreams and searching for mystery utopias. I think for a poem to be considered good, it absolutely needs to include some strong emotion as I think it is almost impossible without strong emotion to turn back to purity.
9. I find it difficult knowing when a poem I have written is finished, so at what point do you decide that a poem you have written is completely finished?
You’re right; it is really difficult to feel your poem is finished at an exact point. A poem is an open text which has no specific beginning or ending, especially if you decide not to write in a strict format. Form makes it easier for me to know when I have finished a poem. I have to choose the safest way to express all I want to say. A poem is not complete if you are not satisfied and this is why I have so many unfinished poems.
10. With your poem ‘Spring’, how did you bring together different ideas and inspirations? And I love poems that use repetition, why do you include this particular form in this poem?
A. Repetition is part of the Persian Ghazal format. Sometimes it means overlooking meaning and just focussing on rhythmic words and sounds. It isn’t the narration or the meaning of poetry; it is the energy of words and sounds. Several of Rumi’s poems represent this, for example a poem of his begins with this meaningless verse: “Tan ta ta tan ta tan ta tan, tan ta ta tan tana tana…” I think it is beautiful – you cannot translate it but you enjoy it like a piece of modern art.
11. Lastly, as some people believe that poetry is a dying art, what advice would you give to young writers like myself to encourage them to write (or continue to write) poetry?
Poetry has been around since the ancient eras so I do not think that poetry will ever disappear because it allows us to look beyond the surface and swim in language – it’s the easiest way of revealing feelings. I would simply advice young poets to really work hard and just keep writing.