October 25, 2014
Nina Orlovskaya's awesome poetry was recently published in Ukrainian Metro News. Please check out her poems if you haven’t had the opportunity! Her book is available on Amazon. I was excited to interview Nina about her work.Can you talk about the impact of poetry on your life and when you first started writing.
I started writing poetry early in life, sometime during middle school. Being an introvert, I spent most of my time alone, indulging in thinking, and somehow I discovered music when I connected certain words that were interconnected in specific ways. I discovered metaphor before I learned that I wasn’t original — it was discovered centuries earlier. I didn’t call it metaphor, of course, I called it a cryptic way of saying anything you wanted to and no one or almost no one would understand you. When you’re 10 years old, to use metaphors while talking to your peers is slightly weird but cool. So I’ll say that poetry was a bridge for one introverted kid to travel into the extroverted world. Also, it helped me learn how to organize my thinking process and develop a very strong emotional memory. It’s sad to know that societies overlook the importance of teaching, or I should say, discovering the language of poetry in our children. Poetry is a language within a language -- an essence of language, a shortcut into a human subconsciousness.
You are fluent in several languages. When you sit down to write, how do you select the language of the poem or is this a fluid process?
I mostly write in English, sometimes in Ukrainian, and less often in Russian. Although I read poetry almost every day in all those languages. A poem starts in my mind as a vivid flash, a sudden splash of a past memory, triggered by a scene, a word, smell, taste …. just about anything. My poetry is a reflection of my feelings on some event in the past, kind of a third-level scenario. I don’t choose a language to write one poem or another; the language chooses me. I think in English but in that creative process that occurs right before conscious thought, I ‘feel’ in all three languages.
What is your writing and editing process like?
I write fast and short: a flash, a stream of consciousness. And later I reflect on what experience, what memory, is in that “gibberish” — kind of like decoding my own thoughts. Sometimes I have a complete four- or six-liner in my head when I wake up and that’s a poem that doesn’t need any editing. Almost all my very short poems are of this nature. A usual process of editing starts a few days after the poem is written. I like to revisit the poem every month or every few months, but I never let myself make any changes to the poem after one year.
What poets do you read and who is especially helpful or inspirational?
Just to name a few: Rainer Maria Rilke, Anna Akhmatova, Charles Bukowski, Theodore Roethke, Thomas Transtromer, Pablo Neruda, Robert Pinsky, Taras Shevchenko, and others. Often I read my less famous but still inspirational friends/poets. When I have writer’s block or need to find inner peace, I read Thomas Transtromer. For instance, I never tire of reading his poem “After a Death.”
What inspires you?
I have to say nothing and everything. I am very hungry for life. There are times when I live with no time to write and I don’t even try to break my pace of living. And then there are times when everything slows down – it’s a time of reflection and involution, a time of inspiration and writing. That’s when I am most true to myself.