Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Write Like It's Your Last One

What do you do when you want to interview a poet who is dying, unavailable and/or unable to respond to your questions?   Iranian poet Farideh Hassanzadeh-Mostafavi faced such a dilemna.  She wanted to interview her favorite poet, Bloga Dimitrova, a Bulgarian poet whose poems she had translated into Farsi, but Dimitrova, who was "in her last days", sent along her books instead, letting her published words speak for her.

Farideh decided to structure the interview around those printed words, found in four of Dimitrova's books of poetry.  Farideh asked the questions, then looked to Dimitrova's poetry for the answers.

"What is your interpretation of the word 'poet'"?

Prometheus who dared to steal
from the Gods,
not fire
but the word.

"What would you ever do, if there was no poetry?"

Without words, I am without hands –
touch nothing, I reach no one else.
and if I am also forbidden words
how shall I slake my thirst?

"What is your message for today's poet?"

Write each of your poems
as if it were your last.
In this century, saturated with strontium,
charged with terrorism,
flying with supersonic speed,
death comes with terrifying suddenness.
send each of your words
like a last letter before execution,
a call carved on a prison wall.
You have no right to lie,
no right to play pretty little games.
You simply won’t have time
to correct your mistakes.

Write each of your poems,
tersely, mercilessly,
with blood — as if it were your last.


You can read the interview in its entirety here.

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