Between Evangeline, Rachel, and me, it sometimes feels like poet and spoken word performer Meghedi Tamazian has her own small fan club at Pankhearst.
But in case you aren’t familiar with her work, here’s a little bio by way of introduction: Meghedi Tamazian is an eighteen year old girl who resides in a Chicago suburb. She was a member of her high school’s speech team and competed in the individual event of “Poetry Reading.” She has represented her school in numerous literary conferences, festivals, and magazines and has been mentored by renowned poets such as Kevin Coval and Roger Bonair-Agard. She is attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue degrees in English and Education and aspires to teach at the collegiate level.
So let’s go. You all have an interview and some poems to read now…
KG: First of all, Meghedi, thanks so much for agreeing to be our Fresh Featured poet this August. A standard question to begin with: how long have you been writing poetry? And what got you started?
MT: Thanks so much for the opportunity! I’ve actually been writing poetry since 7th grade in a red spiral notebook that was intended for math homework. I was bored one day during standardized testing and we had plenty of free time so I wrote a poem about milk and my creativity blossomed from there.
when rain falls,
lovers feel each drop through the window
as if the barrier between body and glass isn’t even air.
summer: trunk of a royal Chevy trailblazer,
our skin sponged in as much water as we told it.
often, our bodies linger on the edge of nighttime.
nostalgia is tattooed inside my right elbow;
he kisses here first, waking voiceless lions.
he argues that a repeated practice loses its power;
i ask if heavier objects weaken gravity
and tell him to take me home.
this is the rain: pain stemming from lack of habit.
everything i break escapes the possibility of mending.
not even the air braces our bodies for the storm,
night is the dirtiest lie we’ve ever been told.
i worry when
he doesn’t show love
the same way i do and i call him a liar when he does.
stepping on a lion’s tail, you will not hear a roar–
just the deafening crack of a bone you didn’t know existed.
now, we are a repeated practice:
flesh on glass on air:
KG: What moves you most to write? Do you write anything other than poems?
MT: I’m actually an English and Secondary Education double-major, so I write a lot of literary analytical essays and research papers and I enjoy doing that. Mostly, though, I just write poems. I’m inspired by odd events in the news or the way certain eye colors look in the sunlight. Just last week, my roommate was telling me a story about one of her friends from school and it had something to do with shattered glass; I was half asleep but it was so beautiful and I think I’ll write on it soon.
KG: We’ve been a fan of your poetry performances for awhile at Pankhearst, so it’s really our pleasure to be able to bring the world a bit of your poetry off the page (well, screen). What’s your opinion on spoken word / performance poetry? Is performing or reading a poem out loud a necessity, or is the reading simply something beautiful to enhance the written work?
MT: Something I was taught during mentorships was that “page poetry” and “stage poetry” had no differences but I’m not sure I agree with that entirely. There are certain manners of speech I play off when I’m performing a poem out loud, on stage, in a conversational setting. We speak differently than we write. The shattered glass poem I’m going to write soon will sound very different in your head when you read it than when I perform it on stage. There is a very clear difference between the two creative avenues; spoken word artists and poets are different people. We can be both, but it is never just by default.
155 days of rain
the doctor asked me if i felt positively
about myself as a person and i bit his hand,
said send me to Seattle
so i can learn what these scars mean.
the rain baptized my bones, made me
a drop of sky turned summer soul.
a boy came to me from Seattle and fractured
my clavicle barehanded. yet,
i followed that crooked smile across state borders,
let it lead me to the widest horizon you can imagine.
our love was Thales’ wet dream: all water,
endless ocean to swim and swim and drown.
i’ve got strong legs and a weak head,
never knew the meaning of almost
until the moon was just a sliver in the sky
and i found myself in the palm of a raincloud.
i’ve been gone for so long i forgot where i was going.
maybe Seattle will reset these broken bones
beset with the incisions of his teeth.
maybe Seattle knows the secrets he does:
same stale breath, same bite marks and tan skin—
same silver sliver reflecting in an ice cold bath of
foolish summer dreams.
KG: What’s your writing process like? (e.g. do you tend to come out with an entire poem, then revise it, or is it a lot more complicated than that? Or do you have any specific places you prefer to write?)
MT: I don’t have any preferences on where to write but I will tell you this: I often cry from frustration when I’m writing because I get so invested in a poem before it even really begins. My writing process is very messy and not at all formulaic, and I can’t help but cater some of my words to the audience I know will be receiving them. Usually, when I come out with a poem, I’m not too keen on editing it again unless I’m entering it to a contest or submitting for publication.
KG: Who are your favourite writers and/or performers? Are any of them a specific influence on you as a writer and/or performer?
MT: I really appreciate Ocean Vuong and everything he has to say. Also, Dalton Day on Tumblr has been a great influence and he actually just came out with a new book! I’ve always been a fan of Andrea Gibson; she influences me both as a poet and a spoken word artist. Sarah Kay’s portrayal of India in her poetry is what made me decide to study abroad there. Finally, a quick shout out to Rachel Nix for always being a positive and encouraging light during my writing career.
KG: I usually like to ask people what their favourite words are. This time I’d like to know if there are any words you don’t like, words that are worse than the sound of fingernails on chalkboards. But okay, to keep it balanced, you can name a favourite too.
MT: My favourite word is probably “melancholy,” or maybe “iridescent.” I really dislike the word “tired.” Asking “how are you?” always elicits “good, just tired” and I’m sick of it.
i share bloodlines with a Babylonian man
who cannot pronounce his own name.
they say his mouth doesn’t work right, unhinges
itself from his voice whenever he tells the truth.
when the moon is only half awake and remorse feels more like
a tired bedsheet, i sleep with four blankets and the door open:
something about letting all the wrong house guests in
and freezing easily under pressure.
night keeps our heartaches from the morning, a gentle mourn
for nonexistent oceans and hollow tidal waves.
for too many beds, “you need to take me back”
has been the eager fish bone lodged in my throat,
a wasteful missing rib, just colorless lightning.
i have the same craters as the crescent, too.
you can find my fingerprints in the debris:
my feeble attempt at leaving a mark on a world not my own.
i have watched a tongue escape from its cage and return
scathed with truths of better days. rain tastes the way sadness feels:
bitter yet familiar, like a Babylonian man’s fight for a name.
out here in Babylon, moon is quicker than sun.
darkness fleets as light lingers and in the sweltering
of any star, a toothless man practices language he cannot know.
strike a matchstick on my bones and get snapped twigs.
hide sixteen umbrellas in the trunk of a car and wait for rain.
i will always be a wailing ache, this nameless hurricane.
KG: And finally – please just tell us anything you like, as a final statement, poetry-related or otherwise.
MT: W.H. Auden embodied brilliance when he wrote “If equal affection cannot be / let the more loving one be me.” Live by that; meet every day with love.
Thanks so much, Meghedi, for your time, your words, and your insights.
If you’ve enjoyed these poems, and Meghedi’s interview, and want to look into more of her work, check out http://learningtobefree.deviantart.com.
And if you would like to appear in either Fresh, or our monthly poetry profile Fresh: Featured*, you can find out how right here. (*Please note, Fresh: Featured is full until February 2016, but we always need more emerging poets for our weekly spots!)