[the interview was originally posted on Imaginary Garden with Real Toads blogsite, at http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2011/08/interview-with-liliana-negoi.html]
Posted on August 23, 2011 by Sherry Blue Sky
Hey kids, my turn to interview a poet, and in visiting the sites among our membership, I have been blown away by the talent and remarkably interesting background of Liliana Negoi, of Endless Journey.
Sherry: Liliana, when did you first begin writing, and what led you to choosing the poetic form as your means of expression?
Liliana: I began to write when I was 18. To make a long story short, during the last year of high school, my philosophy teacher at that time suffered a serious stroke, and was close to death. Although there wasn’t a very strong relationship between him and any of his pupils, somehow this dramatic event happened to be the trigger that brought to life my first poem – I was sitting in my room one evening and I was thinking of how he was about to die and of how he was a very lonely person, and probably the idea of someone dying alone, like that, affected me more than I realized then. Anyway, that first poem came out in a snap, as if it had waited for the right moment to pop out. Obviously, in Romanian at that time. A while after that I started to translate my creations, and later English became my main writing language – and it still is.
Why I chose poetry…actually I didn’t choose poetry – poetry chose me. I studied music – piano – for years, and despite the talent I had in that field, and despite the talent I had in many other forms of art, somehow this was the one that truly bloomed in my heart. And I’m REALLY happy that it did.
Sherry: Trust me, we are happy too, for we are all the richer for it. What is your definition of poetry? What does it mean to you?
Liliana: I think that nature was God’s first official poet – poetry exists, with or without our awareness, in everything that surrounds us, poets being merely the ones interceding between the world of poetry and people, like some sort of mediums. Honestly, I have no precise definition of poetry. To me it is like an extra limb, or sense, or something similar, allowing me to explore the concept of multiverse. Poetry (art, in general) is something so close to divinity, that humanity hasn’t invented yet the right words to define it properly.
Sherry: Well said! Do you believe anyone can write a poem, or that a talent for poetry is inherently a gift?
Liliana: As you already know Sherry, I believe that poems are independent entities living their life somewhere in between the poet’s quill and the reader’s eye. I also believe that at some point poems reveal themselves to us – and in that moment what we tend to call “talent for poetry” is, in my opinion, a measure of how well we are able to listen to them and to let them flow. Anyone can, at some point in life, write a poem – I think it is impossible for a person to live an entire lifetime without hearing at least once the voice of poetry. What makes the difference between poets and the rest of the world is the ability of the firsts to become permanently open to the poetry happening all around them.
Sherry: Oh, I so love the idea of a poem living “somewhere in between the poet’s quill and the reader’s eye”. That is perhaps the best description of poetry I have ever heard. How do you know a poem is good? How do you know when it is finished?
Liliana: Just like people, not all poems can have the same value. In case of equality, we wouldn’t be able to make a difference between them. Not even the greatest poet’s creations are all exceptional. I know a poem of mine is good enough to be published when, while reading it out-loud, I hear it flowing. There are no clear standards for that, because poetry is boundless. We can talk about a form, or about free verse, about rhyming or about white rhyme, about meter or anything else, but we always have to remember that these are but small attributes of certain poems, not of poetry itself. For me, a poem is good and finished when, by adding another single word or particle, it becomes superfluous and when, by removing a single word or particle, it sounds gimp. Words are very dear to me, and I always try to treat them with the proper respect, even if lately I felt the need to make-up words in order to convey the exact message in what I wrote.
Sherry: What is your process for writing a poem, from start to finish?
Liliana: The most difficult part, so to speak, is the start, because I never know what will trigger the next poem – can be a sound, a scent, a word, an image of some sort, anything at all. When the right element comes into my attention, my brain makes certain connections subconsciously, and I feel the need to write. Most of the time this “need” is almost physiological, I am not completely aware of what I am going to pen down, but I just know that I “have to write something”. In the second when I put my hands on the keyboard or when I hold the pen and the notebook, the poem just comes out. I admit I am quite a good “listener”, meaning that I rarely oppose the poem coming out – I just let it flow and also I try to do that as often as possible. I write every day, even if I don’t post something online all the time. On rare occasions it happens to me to not write a poem “in one piece”, meaning by that that it takes me more than one day to finish it. When I realize that I cannot finalize a text, I never force it. I just allow it a little bit of time – usually not more than one day. After that I re-read it, and it kind of writes itself to the end.
Sherry: Who would you say has been the single biggest influence, in your life, on your creativity?
Liliana: Now this is a challenging question under such a form…and I know my answer may sound a bit like cheating, but I think that the single biggest influence in my life on my creativity was life itself. On smaller segments of my life, there were many smaller sources of influence, each of them, no matter how small, having a great importance, because I believe in the saying that “big things are made of small things”, and thus even the tiniest of things can be of huge importance at some point in time. But putting everything together, that is the conclusion to which I come.
Sherry: I am enjoying this conversation so much! Liliana, given your years of musical training, is there a connection for you between music and poetry?
Liliana: To me, music and poetry are one and the same thing, but expressed by different means. While, on one side, we use words to try and envisage the glimpses of the poetry of life, on the other side we use sounds to do just the same, but on a different level. Neither higher, nor lower, just different.
Sherry: I so agree. Liliana, I am wondering how you got so wise, still being so young. You are quite amazing, with a most impressive background.
Liliana: I wouldn’t consider myself wise – wisdom is something much too big for a human mind to house. And, as I like to say, “The beginning of wisdom is the willingness of accepting the thought that you will never achieve it.”. I only try to be very open-minded to everything around me, and to learn as much as I can from anything and everything – even (or especially from) my children and their avidity to explore J. And I have to thank you for your kind compliments!
Sherry: Liliana, thank you so much for taking this time to talk with me. Kids, Liliana has had two books published, which you can find out more about on her site: Sands and Shadows and Footsteps on Sand, a Tanka Collection.