Every once in a while, writers and poet enthusiasts will come across a poet that is truly inspiring. A few weeks ago, I listened to two poets who fall into this category. Before the Texas Book Festival‘s poetry reading, I had the opportunity to chat with Anis Mojgani, who is not only a two-time National Poetry Slam champion, but has also been a TEDx speaker.
Q: How did you get started with poetry?
A: I took a creative writing class in my high school, and it introduced something different in the creative stuff I was doing at the time. It was new and different. I really liked what I was reading. Being introduced to poems and enjoying this new playground of what I was getting to explore and create. After that class, I was exposed to more and more poetry that really cemented my desire, attraction, and love for it. So that was now, eighteen years ago.
Q: Where do you draw a lot of your inspiration?
A: I tend to not think of it like inspiration. When I was younger, there were a lot more direct things that I think everyone gets inspired by, be it another work of art or something in the newspaper that doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t work like that anymore. Largely because, I think if one is an artist, one has to constantly be working. If one is serious about investing one’s time and energy into it, it’s not like ‘well I have to sit around and wait for inspiration, wait for the timing to be right.’ If I’m not on the road, I’m at home, I’ll go to the coffee shop and sit around for two to five hours. Sometimes I’m there for five hours and I don’t have anything to show for it.But it’s a job, and it pays the rent.
It’s not like the romantic notion of it, but that’s how the work gets done, by punching the clock so to speak. Hopefully, I come across on a day-to basis that I find inspirational, I’m able to pull them up to the surface when I do have the tie to sit down and create.
Q: How would you describe your craft or form?
A: I just create. And you know in regards to when I’m writing, more of what simply comes out end up being poems. I write poetry.
Q: What are some non-profits you work closely with?
A: The only one that I work on a semi-regular basis is “To Write Love on Her Arms.” They deal with issues like suicide, depression awareness, self-injury. They had come across my work a few years back and invited me to participate in a show they do annually, and I struck up friendships with the people involved. So over the years, we’ve done a couple of shows together. I just did a three week tour with them in February.
Q: What advice can you give young, aspiring poets?
A: Write. Write. Write. One only gets better from anything by constantly practicing. The more that one writes, the more familiar they get with the language, what you are trying to communicate.
Second is to not be afraid to edit ones work, to not be afraid to hold oneself accountable to whether or not it is doing what you are seeking out for it to do. If it’s not working, if it’s not successful at what you are attempting, that’s completely fine. It’s not about keeping things intact. It’s about getting an emotion, idea, or thought out so you can communicate it out to anther group of people.
Third, a big part of making work is treating it with the respect art desires. What I mean by that is, art is a singular endeavor in its creation, which is not what art is. Art in its finished capacity is given to other people. It’s something that serves a purpose to people outside itself. Think the making of it is a very individual and selfish act, but once that part is done, giving it to other people is creating a different relationship with the artist and the art, and that is really a positive thing. Take those steps you can to put your work into other people’s hands.