Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following writers 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
(1989) is a Slovenian poet, writer and an essayist of Bosniak descent. He has published three books of poetry and an experimental novella. His first book was awarded as a best first book in Slovenia at the 2012 Slovenian Book Fair. His writings have appeared in numerous regional magazines as well as in a Greek and Czech anthologies of young Slovenian poetry. He has read in different cities across Europe and has been a host at the Sarajevo writer’s residency in 2016 and a European Poetry Festival (London) in 2018. Occasionally he translates and is also involved in literary, film, music and theatre criticism. He’s also an editor of IDIOT literary magazine. Currently he is working on flash fiction, his next poetry book, a book of essays about immigrant experience in Slovenia, an avant-garde music-poetry collaboration with Andrej Tomažin, and experiments with literary performance.
- When and why did you start writing poetry?
Aside from writing some lines about kebab for a bad joke in a high school earlier, I started writing first poems at the age of 17 on a web forum. It was a hard period in my life, struggling on a personal level in many ways. My father had died recently. I caused a lot of troubles at school and spent a lot of time reading and posting random stuff on the Internet. I was reading a lot of modernist literature back then. There was a section on a web forum for literature. I just tried writing. And it seemed to me that I have found a field of free play, noninhibited imagination and a possibility to free myself from the pressure of meaning, from a seemingly inescapable flow of everyday conventions. Then I continued. A guy who worked at a bookstore discovered me, he is now my old friend, his name is Jernej Terseglav. At one point he invited me to a reading at his working place in the capital city of Ljubljana. Four people turned out and it was my first contact with the poetry world.
2. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
Very aware. In Slovenia, where poets are considered to be fathers of the nation, you can’t avoid it. Despite the fact that poets are not nearly as influential today as they were in the past, some of them still gain almost mythical status in literary community. Some of them succeed in one way and don’t want to listen to anyone else. I wrote harsh polemics against them. But I don’t do it anymore. I’ve found out that if you’re talking to someone who doesn’t listen, at some point you will cease to listen and repeat their mistakes. On the other hand, from almost all of the poets I’ve admired and turned to them, all of them gave me a positive feedback and helped me to overcome the myth of a great poet.
3. What is your daily writing routine?
I don’t think I have one. I work on ideas almost all the time in my mind. And when they crystalize, I put them down. It wouldn’t be possible if I would write the novels, of course. But with poems, flash fiction and essays I just wait for some kind of inner energy and lucidity to be at a peak level and then I put it down with deep focus and attention. Usually I do it in the evening. I read, watch things and play videogames, do sports a lot in between. I go to theatre, organize events and so on, so my schedule is not fixed at all and is depended on daily circumstances. But there is one constant – I like to go to sleep very late and wake up quite late too. Living in a nonstressful small town or in a small capital allows me that. Sometimes having long walks at night help me to develop ideas. Then I just feel an urge to run home and write.
4. What motivates you to write?
A wish to give sublime a form and communicate it with some other people. Before there was sometimes a need to prove something with writing but not anymore.
4.1. What does “sublime a form” mean to you?
To shape a feeling of sublime which appears at different occasions in our lives, to give it some form, to be able to share little personal revelations with other people.
4.2 How would you describe “sublime”?
I would say that sublime is something that is bigger than us or our daily lives and we are in the awe in front of it.
I’m religious but it doesn’t need to be of explicitly religious nature, it can be found, for example, in the power of history, nature, scientific achievements or even in a language. Sci-fi fiction is, for example, very concerned with the sublime. There are lot of authors interested in everyday life and ordinary things. I’m mainly on the other side, I’m interested in what’s beyond ordinary. But separation is not complete, sublime and ordinary live along each other.
4.3. Why does “ sublime” evoke awe?
Because it is unexpected, it is not something we are prepatwenties. Srečko Kosovel, a tragic poetry hero, was bringing constructivism into poetry, and there was a great amount of experimental poets among leading people of the Communist party which was idealistic and organized great partisan resistance in the world war. Oskar Davičo was one among them, a great poet. In the sixties and seventies new vanguardes emerged, for example Slovenian group OHO, Šalamun became world famous but there were other very special guys too, like Iztok Geister for exemple..
4.4. Why was Iztok Geister very special?
He revolutionized understanding of art in Slovenia with his introduction of concrete poetry and other vanguard techniques, he was a driven artist at a very young age and helped greatly with organizing the underground scene. Later, he turned to more conventional poetry, to ecology and to study of birds.
5. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
A Slovenian poet Miklavž Komelj is influential for me. London based Steven J. Fowler and Astra Papachristodolou have introduced me to a lot of inspiring young writers and encouraged me – with their own work too – to think about role of literature in our times and to experiment some more. I love Patrick Modiano. Alenka Jovanovski has published a powerful book recently. Augusto Monterosso has been dead for 15 years now but his writings inspired me to write flash fiction and experiment with shorter forms and he was a late discovery for me. There are a lot of friends, fellow writers doing new things at the moment and it would be hard to mention them all, I would certainly leave someone out and it would be unfair.
6.. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
Mainly because I find myself being better at writing than doing anything else and I find it more fun than anything else.
I find it meaningful also, but there are other vocations that are meaningful too, maybe even more – doctors, teachers for example.
7. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Be playful. Don’t be discouraged quickly. Take words with a grain of salt, they are not holy but respect them at the same time.
Think about who your ideal reader is and consider her in your writing.
8. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
My next poetry book is predicted to be published next year, all the poems are already written actually. I’m starting a poetry-music project with my friend, the words will probably be mostly English. I’m writing a book of essays on places I inhabit, people I know and experiences of immigrants. Slowly short short stories are being written and I will probably publish a collection of them in next few years.
Thank you for interviewing me, Paul!