Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Soodabeh Saeidnia

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following poets, local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Soodabeh Saeidnia

According to Amazon “Soodabeh lives in Queens, NYC. She got her Pharm D and PhD of Pharmacognosy and has worked as a researcher, assistant and associate professor in the Kyoto University (Japan), TUMS (Iran) and University of Saskatchewan (Canada). She writes in English and Farsi. Her English poems have been published in different anthologies and literary magazines including Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker (GWFM) Squawk Back, Indiana Voice Journal, Sick Lit Magazine, Dying Dahlia Review, etc. She has authored and edited both scientific and poetry collections. Her… book, Where Are You From, is a bilingual anthology gathered from 61 poets.”

Her book “Persian Sugar In English Tea” now in its third volume features an international array of poets that she has translated into Farsi. Soundcloud features the Farsi versions read aloud to Persian music as background.


The Interview
1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

I was 12 years old and it was quite fun in the beginning but as soon as I found poetry a fascinating way of expressing my thoughts and feelings, I never put my pen away. I kept writing when the war was dreadful and my dear Tehran was under rocket attack by Saddam Hossein; when the school was closed for 40 days and my father moved us to the small town for safety; when adults were frightened to death and children played the role of happy angels; when there was blackout almost every night and the dark cardboards were glued to the windows; when the sugar and rice were in shortage and people stood patiently in line to get their own share; when hope was the only cure and the future … I also kept writing when the breeze of peace was blowing, the wounds were healing and the scars didn’t bother anymore …

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

The first mentor was my dad. He is a passionate and good poet and I remember he read for us every night from Hafiz and Rumi collections. I have to give a shout out to my high school teacher and best friend, Mrs Maryam Ghayekhloo who taught me how to criticize my own poems and introduced me to the modern poetry.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Well, I love to read of the pioneers’ and older generations’ accomplishments and do respect their life long endeavour but avoid living under their shades. They are inspiration but not my destination! About 700 years ago, Saadi said “فرزند خصال خویشتن باش”  which means “be your own character’s child”.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

There is no routine! I don’t write everyday but I keep thinking about it several days before I start developing an idea. When it comes to write, it doesn’t matter at work or at home, on the paper or on the web.

5. What motivates you to write?

It can be everything from a jar of spice on the cupboard to a bottle of medicine on the shelf, from the physical pain in the chest to the spiritual/mental injury. I think pains of any kind have been the greatest motives for poets.

6. What is your work ethic?

I love originality and so try my best to save my pen from plagiarism and to mention and appreciate the poets whose writing inspired me.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Some poems are ageless and no matter in what age you read them, they inspire or hunt you in different ways. I believe Rumi’s are of such kind. Interestingly, I often find myself to enjoy reading children fairy tales/mythology again. They may not inspire me anymore but delight my heart and change the sight angle.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

David Shapiro and Joanna Fuhrman. I enjoy and love reading their collections.

What I like about David Shapiro’s poetry has already been mentioned by Carl Whithaus, “To call David Shapiro a poet of the surreal, of collage, of the erotic, of endless transition, of formless form, of fin-de- siècle regret is to touch upon the variety of poetic techniques he has explored … he has refused to write poetry which organizes the real into a clean and neat poetic.”Joanna Fuhrman’s poetry tackles you with a glorious rush of sound and image and offbeat humor.

9. Why do you write?

It’s better not to pick an answer in the large basket of “because”! There are unknown and deeper layers of being yet to be defined by scientists. I really don’t know just like I don’t know why I live or breathe but out of why questions, there is beauty in writing and expressing the human’s thoughts. For me, writing has been easier than talking. I would rather people read my heart/mind whenever they really want to than they listen to my words and forget about it.

9. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I became writer because I found writing the fascinating art to develop the flickering ideas which do not leave you alone until you represent them.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment?

I think about creating a link between translations and original poems, and mixing different languages in one piece of poem(s) in a way that it doesn’t miss the fluency and rhythm and remains attractive to different ears. My next project has not clearly been defined yet but it will definitely contain combinations.

Thank you so much Paul for the interview. It was a pleasure talking to you and the wonderful readers.


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