Today we talk about POEMS FOR SEX, SMOKE, AND RAINSTORMS, a book by Kaya Häfeli published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author, Kaya Häfeli, to get to know her better, what prompted her to the writing of her book POEMS FOR SEX, SMOKE, AND RAINSTORMS, as well as the first book she read and what it has taught her.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What prompted you to the writing of this book of poetry?
Poetry has been a guiding force in my life for at least the last decade. At the age of 16 I was a somewhat troubled student, skipping classes, indulging in substances, that kind of thing. Looking back, it makes sense I acted out as I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Once I started going to therapy, I was able to establish how writing could help me channel the emotions I was feeling. The book is a summary of the last 10 years of this poetry approach. It’s a very personal collection of moments or impressions I lived through. A lot of the poems therefore have a sexual component but that is not the central focus. Trauma especially at a young age can be difficult to process and express especially with such adult topics. I think poetry was my way of establishing an inner conversation with myself about this. I feel a lot of purpose in maintaining it and I also wanted to share my work and see how people react to it, if they understand it.
- What do you want to communicate to readers with this work?
There is not a core message per se. But I hope it makes the reader feel something, in the sense of something new or different or unexpected. I hope it transports them out of their own head for a second. Or maybe brings them back to a moment in time where they felt something similar. Just as with any kind of art or personal expression, I think poetry is where the meaning lies in the eye of the beholder or, I suppose in this case, the reader. As long as there is some kind of sense or sentiment taken from the poems, I’m happy. That being said, an underlying tone of my poetry collection is, however, a certain rawness in describing and expressing one’s emotions as purely as possible. In my poems this includes sexuality and sometimes unconventional romance, “Do what makes you feel alive, unapologetically”, would be another way of phrasing that. I find nothing more infuriating than the self-denial of love or happiness.
- What was the first book you read and what did it teach you?
The first book I remember reading was Federica de Cesco’s “Der Rote Seidenschal” (the red satin scarf). She is an Italian author that started writing out of High School. The book touches on various themes like female independence, native American rights and the idea of a gilded cage – the necessity and challenges of escaping. I think from a very early age I was obsessed with the idea of freedom and with this, I suppose, a certain level of excess or hedonism. The freedom to step out of confines that seemed nonsensical or problematic or simply boring. This definitely contributed to my tendency to overindulge in life – to touch, feel and sense what the heart craves. The author herself, Federica de Cesco, has also been an inspiration on a personal/female level when it comes to self expression, I think her writing enabled me not to be afraid to be a coarse or grating presence as long as it was an authentic expression of myself.
- How would you define your writing style?
I would define it as counter traditional. Short, free, simple but using that to convey deeper meaning. The only times I use more diverse and elevated vocabulary, more old school poetry patterns and words, is usually in a cynical tone or when writing from a point of melancholy. I never understood why poetry has to be stuck-up or overly academic. I believe in a way I’m still rebelling against the classical poetry styles I was taught in school where old German poets and writers like Goethe maintained a very structured almost rigid way of writing poems. I never understood the desire to remained confined in rhyming patterns – or the German language. That being said, I did draw some inspiration from a brief exercise of Poetry from the German Dadaism movement which started around the 2nd World War. There is something about trauma and unconfined exploration of literary expression that just mixes well together. Maybe going through something conventionally incomprehensible can force us to explore new ways of expressing ourselves.
- Are you working on a new book of the same genre?
I am writing poetry continuously, yes. Whether that turns into another book, I’m not sure yet. I will keep trying to tie the poems I write into chapters or themes to publish them more widely. I have also thought about exploring story telling in a similar writing style but that’s currently just an experiment. This book has however made me realise that I do enjoy sharing my work with people that take some joy or meaning from it. I also like the idea of using more visual and photographic material alongside my poetry, another experiment I would love to explore more. That’s the interesting thing about poetry, conveying it doesn’t have to be in a singular format. I remember one piece of poetry in a Parisian exhibition of modern art that had an entire poem written over and across various pieces of painted and sculpted art. It does seem like this book is just the start to my journey with poetry and I’m excited to see where it will take me.
Europe Books thanks the author, Kaya Häfeli, once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book POEMS FOR SEX, SMOKE, AND RAINSTORMS. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my readers, I hope it brings you new and exciting emotions, allows you to reconnect with something that happened in the past that gave you good feelings and at the same time it gets you the courage to seek out emotions that make you feel alive and full of happiness.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!