Tuesday, May 26, 2020

TtD supplement #161 : seven questions for Khashayar Mohammadi

Khashayar Mohammadi is an Iranian born, Toronto-based Poet, Writer, Translator and Photographer. He is the author of poetry chapbooks Moe’s Skin by ZED press 2018, and Dear Kestrel by knife | fork | book 2019. He is currently working on a full length collaborative poetry manuscript with Toronto poet Terese Pierre, as well as a full length poetry manuscript forthcoming with Gordon Hill Press in 2021.

His poems “Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’,” “Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Through A Glass Darkly’,” “Andrei Tarkovsky’s “The Sacrifice’” and “John Carpenter’s ‘In the Mouth Of Madness’” appear in the twenty-fifth issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Tell me about the poems “Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’,” “Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Through A Glass Darkly’,” “Andrei Tarkovsky’s “The Sacrifice’” and “John Carpenter’s ‘In the Mouth Of Madness’.”

A: as an avid cinephile I always tried to unite my love of writing with my love of Cinema. These poems are just a few short examples of how I decided to write poetry exploring the intricacies of international arthouse cinema.

Q: How does these poems relate to some of the other work you’ve been doing lately?

A: I’ve been trying much harder to engage with other art forms. I have explored dance, music, fine and contemporary arts; but there is a certain sense of belonging that brings me back to cinema. I have been exploring ekphrasis much more but my personal favorite ekphrastic poems have all been about cinema.

Q: What is it that ekphrasis that appeals? What is it about writing poems through other forms? Is this a way of engaging those forms or working your way towards them?

A: Well, ekphrasis contains many possibilities. A poem about a movie can explore its philosophy, it can explore it as an art form, it can explore it as an experience or even explore the very act of watching the movie. I guess the main aspect of it that attracts me to it is the possibility of dissecting a favorite piece of art and perhaps highlighting its appeal for any readers.

Q: Given you’ve a couple of chapbooks under your belt, how was the process of putting together your first full-length manuscript?

A: It was a lot of fun and simultaneously a new kind of challenge. There are many challenges to structuring a full length manuscript that did not exist at the chapbook length. Structure and flow is always important, but the longer the manuscript gets, the more important it is to structure it correctly. Me and my editor are still experimenting with my full length and hope it'll turn out well. It’s always heartening to work with a great editor like Shane Neilson and I have a lot of faith in the manuscript.

Q: With two chapbooks-to-date, and your forthcoming full-length debut, how do you feel your work has developed? Where do you see your work headed?

A: I use poetry for expression and developing lucidity in my waking life, so with every stepping stone I see myself heading for more clarity in expression.

Q: Do you have any models for the kinds of work you’ve been attempting? What writers or works are in your head when you write?

A: If it was 3-4 years ago, I would have said people like Beckett, Paul Celan or Nicole Brossard, all of whom I worship; but at the moment poets who inspire me are mostly friends whom I frequently share a stage with or read along. There is so much great talent in Canadian poetry at the moment and it gets better every year. I would say at the moment my greatest influence is my partner, poet Terese Pierre.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: A few remarkable ones would be Nicole Brossard’s Ardour, Samuel Beckett’s ill seen ill said, Nathanael’s Je Nathanael, George Oppen’s 21 poems, CA Conrad’s The Book of Frank, Paul Celan’s Threadsuns, Rilke’s Book of Images, Klara Du Plessis’s Ekke, Ahmad Shamlu’s Humble explorers of Hemlock and Hoa Nguyen’s Red Juice.

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