I am honoured to post the below interview with Gabriela M, a writer I greatly admire, and I’m extremely grateful to Gabriela for her kind words regarding my own work. You can find Gabriela M online here, https://shortprose.blog/
1. What is the first book you remember having read?
Kevin, before I answer your questions allow me to thank you for this interview. I greatly admire your poetry. I am honored to be your guest.
The first book I remember reading apart from Snow White and other children’s books is Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. I was fascinated by it.
2. In relation to question 1, What impression did the book make on you?
It had quite an effect on my life. I was very young when I read it. After reading it I got this idea that I must travel to see the world. The desire to see the world caused me to attempt to run away from home.
My parents loved me very much. I had a happy childhood. Can you imagine my parents’ shock when I first ran away from home? I was a little girl walking the streets by myself, talking to myself, and marveling at every new thing I saw. The police found me not too far from our home. Even though my parents started to lock the front yard gate I managed to do it again. My mother asked me why I was doing it. I don’t remember what I answered. According to her my response was invariable: “I want to see the world like those guys in that book.”
Until this day my desire to see the world is still alive. There are quite a few countries to which I still have yet to travel. However, today I know that it’s not only about seeing the world. It’s also about looking for something, something that I cannot define. It is an externalization of that for which my soul still looks.
3. Do you recall your first literary composition and, if so can you describe it?
My first novel. One morning, out of the blue, I told my mother: “I am going to write a book.” She looked at me incredulously. Anyway, the book has two plans: one reflects the experience of traveling; the other a night conversation with one of my friends. It’s like watching two movies at the same time.
The scenes alternate with apparently no connection. After I finished, I did not have a title and I had no idea what to do with the manuscript. My mother, who read every page and honestly marveled at my writing – well, after all she was my mother – took the manuscript and sent it to a publisher. I got a simple reply: “I am publishing, and I have a title for you.”
The preface was written by an university professor. It was very laudatory. I was very grateful, yet ready to move on. However, one thing written in that preface stayed with me: “This book urges us to find an answer to an important question: Quels sentiments combleront jamais l’existence inexistante des hommes de notre temps? [What feelings will ever fill the non-existent existence of the men of our time?] The book was not written in French. I am pretty sure that was a quote. The funny thing is that I’ve never found the quote anywhere. I’ve never asked him about it. However, the question is timely, which is why I mention it.
4. What inspires you to write?
Pain, love, devastation. I answered this question in another interview. Nothing has changed.
5. What, in your view constitutes poetry?
I do not know what constitutes poetry. Yet I learned from Socrates what enables us to write poetry. I am quoting now: “I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”
6. Where, in your view does poetry end and prose begin?
I do not know where poetry ends, and prose begins.
Some people argue that poetry utilizes the language for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in order to hide real feelings. Antithetically, it is argued
that the banal language is used to write prose, i.e. to tell a story. I disagree on both counts.
I quoted Socrates when it came to poetry. I am going to quote my favorite novelist, Lawrence Durrell, when it comes to writing a book: “A novel should be an act of divination by entrails, not a careful record of a game of pat-ball on some vicarage lawn!”
7. Do you prefer to write in free verse or rhyme? If you have a preference, please can you explain it?
I have absolutely no preference. Good poetry is good poetry. I write in both.
8. Could you share a poem or other written composition with my readers, please?
Meadows where trees sleep, and rivers stretch like cats.
Fairies dance tarantella in the air.
Your purple lips reflect the shadows of the women you will love.
Your eyes as thirsty as the surface of the moon.
9. Do you have any advice for people who would like to write but are not sure how to start doing so?
I hate to advise anybody except for my students. Most people who think they advise others end up lecturing them. It’s terrible. All I am going to say here is that there is always a way. Those who want to find it will find it.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kevin, I want to thank you again for your kindness. It means a lot to me. Equally I want to thank everyone who reads this interview and wish them a fruitful journey in the world of writing.