Interview with the famous poetess and translator Taghrid Bou Merhi
Interview to Eva Petropoulou Lianou
Do you remember writing your first words of poetry? When was itPlease tell us more about it. Hi, my name is Taghrid Bou Merhi. I am Lebanese living in Brazil. I am a Writer, Poet, Translator and children’s story writer.Yes, I remember well. I was twelve years old when I started writing. The topics we were asked to write about in school were like a singing oasis for me in which I was able to express my thoughts and dreams in a beautiful poetic way. The teachers noticed this and praised me for it. They would sometimes read my work in front of the whole class. I was happy when i saw the admiration in the eyes of my teachers and classmates. This admiration encouraged my creative imagination. I started to write down in my own booklet my ideas, stories and dreams.
Did you have any early influences/inspirations? Yes as I said, it all started at school, especially with arabic literature. We used to study and memorize poems by great arabic poets.These literary texts had a great impact on me. They motivated me to write more beautifully and broadly later on. I was influenced mostly by: Gibran Khalil Gibran and Elia Abu Madi.
What/who started you writing poetry? At first I wrote mostly about nature in all its beauty like the sun and sunset and their wonderful crimson colours or the sea and its deep magic etc…Later in my teenage years I started to write fantasy and mystery short stories. My uncle loved reading books by famous world writer Agatha Christie and Arsine Lupine. He will visit often and tell us those stories which provoked my wild imagination.
Does your background / heritage influence your writing? Please explain Of course, every person is influenced by the society he lives in so there is no doubt that culture, heritage and customs shape us. Lebanon my homeland is a beautiful ancient country.It’s the place for all poets, musicians and artists to gather. It presents great festivals and concerts for all arts on the theatres of Baalbak, Sidon and Tire where Famous international singers and artists performed.It was the first Arabic country to have a printing press and a publishing company. Millions of books by arab and non-arab artists were published. Arts flourished. I was very affected by all this heritage and diverse cultures.
What subjects mostly inspires you to write? Why? Longing is mostly what I write about. It’s a feeling that I always carry with me. Longing for family and friends that circumstances separated us. I express my longing with my writing hoping that my words would intercede and ease this pain!I believe that longing is the ladder of feelings. It’s the characteristic of pure love. A love we yearn to. Love for our families, our children, and our friends. We yearn for freedom and peace, for love and humanity…When our words are sad and painful, it’s an expression of longing for a happier time.It’s hard to say what where and when to write. We write because we love and miss
Do you remember your first ever published work? Where, what was it? When? Tell me how you felt seeing your words in print. Yes, I remember it well and I still keep it. It’s an old magazine called “Al-Hurriya” meaning Freedom. I was thirteen years old when my beloved uncle sent my poem about Palestine to be published. It was called: “ And you ask me about identity?” Despite my young age, i was affected by the Palestinian cause. My aunt was married to a Palestinian man. Every time we visited, the adults would talk about the awful war and the sufferings of Palestinians. The death, the destruction and the displacement of People. I was deeply shocked and saddened by the horror of war. My only outlet to express my feelings was the pen. I wrote about revolution, and about the migration of people and their dispersal in the land.When my uncle cane over, he presented to me a copy of the magazine where they published my poem with my name underneath it. What a feeling!!! It’s so hard to describe it. I felt I was on top of the world. A beautiful moment and memory.
What publication are you most proud to have your work published in, why? It’s a fact that every work you complete makes you feel proud of yourself. It motivates us to try our best in presenting better quality every time.Writing for me does not stop. It’s like a pure spring water that becomes sweeter the more we infuse it with our hearts, the blossom of our souls and the sweetness of our feelings…Therefore it’s difficult for me to love one work more than another as I am proud of all my literary works. They are the fabric of my feelings, the simulation of my dreams, the echo of my imagination and the virginity of my soul…
Do you have a favourite genre of poetry?Why? Tell me more about it. Yes, philosophical poetic writing that addresses humanity and existentialism.I will be releasing a book soon: “On the Edge of the Soul”. It’s an emulation of that philosophy, a mixture of humanizing the ego and addressing conscience in a philosophical style, relying on strong, deep and influential expressions. Perhaps in general the life people live is what prompted me to write this genre. We live in a time of wars, racism, discrimination and sectarianism. Whether it’s by writing or any other means, we need to address the human conscience in order to get out of this deep abyss of evil. We need to sow goodness, love and peace each of us in its on own way.
What are your future plans as a writer/poet? I think that all poets and writers have a common goal. They wish to have their work read all over the world…I, as a poet and writer, hope for that as well. I believe it’s good for different cultures to meet whether through poetry or any other kind of art. My dream as a translator is to work on books written by great poets and writers. I want to introduce different cultures to the world for a better understanding and acceptance of each other. Also I would like to publish educational guidance books for children.
What projects are you working on and why?. Currently I am preparing an e-book to be released soon. It’s a work of translated poetry written by different nationalities poets into Arabic. Also, I have recently started working as an editor for a magazine called “Rainbow” where I can publish works from all different cultures. I am working as well on a project about literary criticism studies. I believe the cultural arena needs more valuable constructive studies.
A phrase that you like and inspired you… You are blind, and I am deaf and dumb, so put your hand in my hand and we will perceive each other. Gebran Khalil Gebran
We can be strong with knowledge but we don’t become human only with mercy.