Interview with Liliana Negoi – by R. Renee Vickers
Liliana Negoi is one of my favorite people to read. She always has these remarkable pieces that draw you into her mind effortlessly. Be it poetry or prose, she never fails to capture your attention and hold it hostage. If you haven’t had the delight of reading her yet, then it’s my pleasure to introduce you.
Song for Agriope
sounds were rising –
chrysalides for the yet unborn
still were the waters,
undead the moonlight –
and aerial was the calling
of the sound-bender…
and all were silent…
under salty heaviness
and doubled up with pain,
unallowed to rebirth the lost
yet sounds kept rising –
in the molten souls that were
unshed fire caressed
crimson and black and golden
and hearts were born
where there had been none
and all were crying…
rocks blossomed under
the taming ether
exposing the bones of
and sounds kept rising –
mourning the morning
never to come…
Q: When and why did you start writing?
LN: I began to write by accident. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but I was 18 y.o. during my last year of high school, when my philosophy teacher suffered a stroke and almost died. Somehow that gave me the impulse to pen down my first poetic creation, and that is how I began to write in Romanian – my native tongue. Some years later I had my first attempts of translating my own poems into English, and after a while this language became the main one for my writings – both for poetry and prose.
Q: Was there someone close to you who encouraged you to begin writing?
LN: To begin writing no, there was nobody. But after reading my first few poems in Romanian my mother became very interested about this hobby of mine. Even if she never openly pushed me towards fathoming this area, she was always very fond about my scribbles.
Q: What country are you from, and do you feel that your nation’s ties to old Rome gives you a stronger tie to classical literature?
LN: I was born in Romania, which is by origin a Latin country indeed. As for if the ties to Rome would provide me with a stronger link to classical literature…no. I think in my case my inclinations towards literature were less related to my geographic and historic environment and more related to my family ones. My mother, who was an avid reader, encouraged my passion for books ever since she realized that, a little after I turned 4, I had learned to read by myself. So my first “literature education” started with her, when, consciously or not, she began to instill in me her own love for this wonderful area.
Q: Where in this world is your favorite place to be and what about it do you draw inspiration?
LN: Where in this world is my favorite place…I don’t have a particular answer to this question…there are lots of places in this world to which I’m attracted although I’ve never been there, and I guess the “inspiration” related to those is more of a mind-exploration of their potential. The desert for instance, the ocean, the exquisite culture of China and Japan…these are just a few of the elements that carry a deep meaning for me and have a serious influence on my writing. And many more aside those.
Q: Is there anyone specific that inspires you to write to the best of your skill?
LN: Yes, there is, and although I will not mention this person’s name, I have to say that in the past few months I’ve come to improve and explore new valences of my writings due to him. I owe a lot to the way my limits have been pushed by this person, and many of my best works until now have come to light as consequences of the discussions carried with him. He holds a very special place in my life, by being a very loving and honest friend, mentor, and much more than that.
Q: You have an interesting occupation. Can you tell us what it is and what do you enjoy most out of it?
LN: I’m an interpreter/translator. Although my studies involved first music – piano playing, and then economy, I’ve had my first experience as a translator about 8 years ago, again by accident (my life was full of happy accidents, as it seems…), and since it was a very satisfactory and fulfilling one, I’ve continued my activity in this field. What I enjoy most about it is the fact that I can never get bored because I always have to translate about something else. And when the interpreting is done live, with people, when you have the opportunity to interact with others, it can be quite an extraordinary experience. Sure, you can get tired, even exhausted, it’s a mind soliciting activity especially in the case of simultaneous translations, but it can also be a very rewarding one. Translating a book for instance is almost like getting to write that book yourself – you have to put yourself in the place of the author and transpose their message within the realm of another language. And that gives me a great feeling.
Q: Do you feel your experience as an interpreter lends a different dimension to your creative writing?
LN: I think being an interpreter brought me to what I like to call “interpreting my own soul for my readers”. Translating my own feelings and thoughts and musings into imagery and words, although not always easy, can indeed be a fascinating thing.
Q: As a wife with young children, how in the world do you find time to write these intensely involved writings?
LN: Honestly, what I have to be thankful for is the fact that I write very easily. Most of the time the creative process, in my case, is triggered by a word, or color, or scent, or anything else, and the whole piece comes out naturally. So literally, the time to write is not that long. When I have an idea I want to pen down, I just find a free moment, lay my fingers on the keyboard and let it out. I know that to some people this may seem shallow, because I rarely take days to work on a poem. But I believe that my brain does that work for me subconsciously, and just knocks at the door of my fingers when it’s done with the “research” and is able to put together all the info.
Q: What is more rewarding for you poetry or prose?
LN: Although I’m in love with reading prose, writing poetry is the one that “tickles my brain and soul”, maybe because when I write poems I can condense a world in a word. In a poem I am able to explore sides of myself that I didn’t even know existed.
Q: Did you aspire to be a writer when you were young? And is being a successfully published writer all you hoped it would be?
LN: I didn’t even dream of being a writer until I was 18, when I suddenly realized I could write poetry. Those were the first moments when I became aware that this was not an impossible target for me. As for being a successfully published writer – my first two titles were barely released on the market, so for the moment I’m still savoring the first thrills. I still have moments when I have to pinch myself in order to be sure this is real.
Q: Was there ever a point in your life where you met with someone who tried to discourage you from writing and how did you get past that?
LN: Fortunately I haven’t met such a person so far. I’m not saying that all people who came in contact with my works were ecstatic, but none came to the point of actually saying “you should stop writing, you’re no good for this”. Assuming one would say that – I believe that being a writer doesn’t mean that you can satisfy the tastes of everybody. Sooner or later you will bump into people who will not only be uninterested about your writings, but who will actually completely disapprove them. My attitude in such a case – I’m a grown-up, aware of my value. I know there’s always room for better, but I also know I have my well-defined spot in the creative side of the world. And I intend to keep that spot.
Q: Ever get writers block and what is your favorite way to break it?
LN: Ahh, somehow I feel I’m going to be hated for this…No. So far I never experienced what is being described as “writer’s block” – as in not being able to write anything at all. Just once I had the feeling that everything I tried to pen down sounded like a cliché, and the way I got over it was to simply spill that feeling out in a poem, called “writer’s block?! naahhh…”. Aside from that, what I did experience more than once was not being able to write certain poems in my usual manner, because the poems had a very strong personality themselves and simply didn’t want to bend to my will. I like to think of poems as being independent entities, living somewhere in the middle of the distance between my pen and the reader’s soul. And since they have a life of their own, it’s normal to want to have their way from time to time.
Q: Any favorite authors? Who inspired you when you were young? And now?
LN: When I began to write poetry the author that opened my eyes towards different worlds was a Romanian one – Nichita Stanescu. I was in high school when I came in contact with his poetry and I was simply amazed by his way of treating words. In time my list of favorite poets added Pablo Neruda, Charles Baudelaire, Geoffrey Hill, Maya Angelou, Jorge Luis Borges and others. As for prose – the first on my list is Umberto Eco, with whose work I simply fell in love, unconditionally. Others aside him – Lev Tolstoi, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Mircea Eliade…and the list could go on.
Q: What hobbies do you have outside of writing?
LN: I love to read – that would be one of the most important. Whenever I get a little time, although lately my spare time seems to slowly be reduced to zero, and so my number of hobbies decreased too. Once in a blue moon I remember I used to love to make ink drawings or to sculpt miniatures in chalk, or to play chess if I have a partner for that…but these activities have turned more and more into neglected aspects, to my deep sadness.
Q: What’s the best advice that you could give to new writers?
LN: They must be aware that to be able to write, to have this gift, is almost equal to a demiurgic quality. They have the power to endow words with meanings and to show other people those meanings. They create worlds. In the hands of a careful writer, words can become anything, molding on their desire. So my advice would be first of all “treat your words well – and they will treat you well”.
It’s always a pleasure to get a peek into the mind and life of a creative person such as yourself. For all those who are interested, could you provide us some information on where your published and where on this world-wide web we can find more of your work.
Sands And Shadows
Paperback and e-book
Once in a blue moon, time flows backward and then my ship remains stuck in sand—a blessing and a curse—until tides pity me enough to let me again to my salty waves. In those moments, I can only watch the shells and algae around me scorching in the sun and delirate gracefully about the utmost splendor of what is happening. But what ISN’T happening when the human mind is set free?! One can see shadows swimming in the airy graveyard, and I can feed you on ice and make you believe it’s the tastiest blaze you’ve ever felt…
Foosteps On Sand – tanka collection
“Footsteps On Sand” is the second title belonging to Liliana Negoi, after “Sands And Shadows”. Meant to represent one step further in the process of self-reveling, this book is a “collection of poetic shards from my inner mirror”, as the author herself says, “each reflecting another small part of myself”. Why tanka? Because, preceding the haiku in history, the tanka crossed times carrying within its concept the valences of tradition and subtlety, and beyond all that, of love. “Footsteps On Sand” is a personal journey taken by the author in the realm of feelings, step by step, tanka by tanka.
Thank you Lilly for spending the time with me on this. It was a real treat to get to know you better!