Poet Interview #41 – Irsa Ruci

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
 
I was born on a cold winter day, during a very significant year for my small country of Albania, in 1990 – the year when Albanians reached their dream to live free in democracy. Following the western concept of government, they abandoned a decades-long system of dictatorship. So, I was born in a year of hopes and the birth of beautifully strong beliefs. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communication Sciences. During these years I was appreciated as one of the best students of my country, and on two occasions I won a medal awarded to excellent students. Perhaps it was these maximum achievements in the academic field which helped provide me the opportunity to become a professor at the age of 23, a profession which I continue today. I feel that this work creates an inexhaustible passion for me. I started writing at the age of 8, and since that time I haven’t stopped writing for a single day.
 
It was the end of December in 1998 when I wrote my first poem, and it makes me feel good to recall that this first attempt to write a poem was dedicated to the theme of gratitude. No matter what makes us feel grateful, the long journey of life will still set before us many challenges on our path, and so it is important not to lose within ourselves the feeling of being thankful.
 
I cannot say for sure how the initial inspiration started, but I know that it was during the time when I was in elementary school that I first began writing. My elementary school teacher was always telling my parents: “It is impossible for a child at this age to have these articulation of views. I have 30 years in this profession, and I have not ever seen such a talented kid.”
 
These words influenced my mother in that she began encouraging me to write. She donated books of poetry for me to read and always supported me, showing me how astonished she was from the things I wrote (at that time, like a naive child, I was too thrilled, but now I realize that this was simply the awe of a mother for her daughter, not necessarily for the first steps of these early verses that were not yet poetry, and so she was my real inspiration).
 
I read a lot of poetry, read daily, because a book is an inexhaustible source of love for me. I do not have favorite poets, I just love poems. I do not start off judging what to read based on the poetic authority that a particular author has.
 
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
 
Since I started writing the first lines on paper, at 18 years of age, I have not stopped writing for even a single day. I write every day; every day I put something down on paper (though not all the pages deserve to be called literary writings, and most of them stand apart in the notebook without being published anywhere). I force myself to work and exercise without an end. Work and experience are just as important as inspiration. I believe that inspiration is a daily driving force, but also equally believe that daily work is needed. The brain is a muscle, and like any muscle it needs to work; you have to always be engaged in mental activity.
 
Before writing, I was a mischievous girl, very noisy and unstable. Once I started writing, I gained the wisdom of thinking, reasoning, and peace. However, something still did not change: the fact of being rebellious, recalcitrant, and uncompromising except with myself.
 
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
 
I’m active in social networks, but not enough to be handled by them. I generally use them to publish my poems. Earlier, I maintained a blog where I published poems, which were mostly from my first book (published in 2008) and my second book (published in 2010). But, because of the load of chores, I gave up the management of the blog. But, again, I do publish poems on social networks, and a number of my poems translated into English have appeared in international journals from different countries.
 
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
 
Besides the virtual communities where different poets from around the globe share their verses and writings amongst each other, there are also literary activities organized occasionally in my country which I participate in. I almost always attend such events whenever I am able, and I follow the developments with great interest. But a more important role in the promotion of culture and literature is played by the print and online magazines that accept international submissions and publish poets from every corner of the world. Their work is truly appreciated, and in this case it is your magazine. I think I will never be able to thank them enough for the wonderful work their magazines do on behalf of the passion and love they have for art; while the editors who work for them invest their time and often lose materially, in the larger picture they gain something much more important: the preservation of art, and a recognition of their spirit as people who are keepers of beauty.
 
I read different types of work simultaneously: books of poetry, books related to the subjects I teach in the faculty, and books connected with public communication. These three areas are also three of my passions and so I try to interlace them in order to find the commonalities.
 
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
 
People write poetry to clean their soul…
 
If poetry does not have the power to make you a better person than who you are, do not write poetry.
 
If poetry does not give you idealism to see the reality among sensations, do not write poetry.
 
If poetry does not make you crazy enough to believe that a verse of yours can freeze storms, do not write poetry.
 
If poetry does not come from the heart, but the mind, do not write poetry.
 
Do not write because it would be a waste of time; poetry does not enrich materially, but poetry does enrich one’s humanity.
 
But if you feel that spark of light welling up in your chest, and if that living spirit takes you away, do not ever stop writing!
 
Poets suffer so much to ensure the string of their ideas reaches the perfection that they dream, but this suffering is only worth it if the happiness that one takes in bringing this creation to life is of the same degree. When you birth the creation of poetry, inspiration is conceived to see life through a lens of hope and to believe in the future….

We Interrupt This Broadcast

Two Poems by
Gary Beck
 
Recurrence
 
Despite the advances
in technology
that we take for granted,
some of us
still camp out for days
to get the latest gadget.
And as the Information Age evolves
addicting us
to electronic services
beyond comprehension
a century ago,
civilization
grinds to a halt,
as it always has,
when terrorists assault
the vulnerable public.
 
The Natural Way
 
Most of us
have strong feelings
and get annoyed
irritated, angry,
lose control
in varying degrees
generally confined
to emotional outbursts,
often resulting
in harsh words,
nasty confrontations,
frequent violence,
but the simmering desire
to hurt strangers,
create mass destruction
is rooted in nature’s
basic harshness
affecting all life.
 
—————–
 
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). Fault Lines, Perceptions, Tremors and Perturbations will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Press). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to Valor will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

Poet Interview #40 – Gary Beck

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
 
I started writing poetry at age 16, mostly ponderous imitations of the English Romantics, Byron, Keats, Shelly. I had a difficult childhood and writing seemed to be an escape from harsh reality. I gradually began to develop my own voice. I wrote some short stories, got involved in theater and began to write plays, essays, then novels. Some of my favorite poets are Whitman, Poe, Eliot, Baudeair, Mallarme, many others.
 
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
 
I am now in the stage of my life where I have accumulated a store of material that I draw on regularly. My concept of poetry changed drastically a number of years ago. I became much more concerned with issues, rather than traditional forms.
 
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
 
I am on Facebook and Twitter, though not as active as I should be. I’m really pretty much a loner, except for a small group of editors who publish me, a few writer friends and theater people I worked with.
 
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
 
If you are not called to poetry, compelled to create, or just a liberal arts dabbler, do something else. There are too many dilettantes now. If it is a serious commitment, read magazines, get to know editor(s) who have compatible taste and reach out to them.

Textures and Trajectories

Two Poems
by Sanjeev Sethi
 
CRY
 
A fashion show
projects the body.
Can someone organize
a show of soul?
I, too, want
to be a model.
 
DO OVER
 
If loving is a prayer, I must be a mean worshiper.
You wore the hood of humility, some slip on when
they are sure. No watershed is shaped by another’s
tractate. Pathfinder’s advance is endogenous, afflatus
their own. My way of stonewalling your invincibility
was by owning to your contours inflating my cravings.
To seek ballast I eschewed fitful textures & trajectories.
Lovers are loaned. Poetry is mine like God.
 
 
—————-
 
 
Sanjeev Sethi has authored three books of poetry. This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015) is his latest work. He is widely published in several countries, and lives in Mumbai, India.

Poet Interview #39 – Sanjeev Sethi

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
 
I am essentially a poet. I have published three books. Bloomsbury published my third, This Summer and That Summer in October 2015.
 
I don’t remember the exact time or age when I started inditing but love of poetry came early. I was a lonely child and extremely sensitive. I recall the joy of reading, whenever in my little mind I could make sense of poetic lines it would delight me to no end.
 
I had this daybook where I used to write and I have memories of my school magazine publishing my poems. As with a lot of poets I fell in love, or what I thought was love when I was thirteen or so.
 
The bliss and baggage that comes with young love crept into my poems and still does.
 
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
 
Different poems reach in different ways. For some it is my response to an emotional experience, others just fall on to my keyboard. Sometimes it is a fleeting thought and at other times a word can trigger a poem.
 
Each poem has its rhythm, its sequence. I have no favorite poets. I just read and read. A line here, an idea there, a beginning somewhere, a turn of phrase, a full poem sometimes, many poems by another. I keep flitting and flirting. I am not a loyalist. I am a slave of the poetic form, not of individuals who create it.
 
I am right now in an extremely aggressive phase so the whole day is spent in chasing Muse and her mission. When I began writing there was a lot more emotion in my work. Now, it is a little controlled. I don’t know if this is a phase or a part of growing up.
 
It maybe relevant to read Conduction from This Summer and That Summer.
 
CONDUCTION
 
If you enter poetry
like a nabob before a nautch
it will leave you listless.
 
When you peruse a poem, perpend it
like a psalm or salat. When faith
is installed guerdon is assured.
 
Parnassus has to be pampered, immune
from the inhibitions of mind only then
will it woo with its vim and valence.
 
When you undress a poem with dignity,
delicately like a lover, it will disrobe you
of excess, accessing your inner feelings.
 
SANJEEV SETHI
 
 
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
 
I am a little shy and away from all this. But everyone I know and their grandmother goads me to take this path. Maybe one day I will give in. But right now I am away from it all.
 
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
 
No, mine in an insular existence. I am really not in touch with local poets. I guess everyone has their own story. My second book, Nine Summer Later was published in 1997. At that point in time I had spent about 15 years as a media professional and was a published poet. Dom Moraes had written the Introduction, Nissim Ezekiel’s comment was on the flap. My poems and articles were all over the place. I was the film critic of The Daily but I wasn’t enjoying my journalistic writing. Meter was and is my marijuana. Sadly poetry makes no money. Around the same time circumstances conspired in such a manner that they allowed me the space to create. Strangely, when this happened my need to publish subsided. I was happy to read, write and pursue the prosodic route. I did this quietly for 15 years, writing but not publishing.
 
Suddenly in the summer of 2013 there was again an itch to publish. I emailed four poems to The London Magazine. Two days later Steven O’ Brien, the editor asked for ‘some more poems’. Half an hour later I had an acceptance. This goaded me to send poems to another journal. At last count it is more than 100 acceptances the world over. Somewhere along the line Bloomsbury happened. This Summer and That Summer was born in October 2015. The basic point I am trying to make is that I am so locked up creating that there is really no time to exchange and interact with others.
 
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
 
Just urge my young friends to read. Internet has opened the options. There is a lot of good work there. Keep reading, writing and submitting. That is the mantra. Don’t let rejection ever get to you. To be rejected is reality. It comes with the territory. The sooner you accept it the better it is for you.