National Poetry Month Celebration
Bio: Maryam Alikhani is a City College alumnus with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing for poetry and a doctoral student in English Education at Teachers College Columbia University. She is an English instructor, educator, translator, and poet. Maryam writes her poems in English, Persian and sometimes in Spanish. Her poetry has appeared in Esque Mag, Poetry in Performance, Promethean, the Poetry of Yoga as well as several periodicals in Tehran.
The Moroccan Curtain
I follow the rainbow beams of
Sunlight through the crystals of
My Moroccan curtain
And rise like the last
Woman on the earth
The window is lonely
A robin sits on the sill
With a message from Emily
To open my society
I unwrap the present
“Sobh be kheir, Aziz.”
“Good morning, dear.”
Where do you draw your inspiration from to write poetry?
From conversations, music, trees, and light. Basically the world I live in is always material for my poetry. What I see, what I hear, and the conversations I have with people, friends or strangers, inspire me to write. Often I hear a phrase or a line and I go from there.
What advice do you have for someone that is threatened by poetry?
Threatened? Yes, I hear that a lot. Since when has poetry become a threat? There was a time when literature meant poetry. People knew hundreds of lines of poetry by heart and recited them. Then they passed those poems chest to chest from generation to the next. In addition to the aesthetic pleasure of poetry as a form of art, poetry preserved history, genealogy, culture, etc.; it flourished language, and had pedagogical or educational values. It still does, of course. And I personally know some poetry cultures that people read and recite poetry fearlessly.
However, poetry is not as much a form of writing in our routine academic and professional life. In other words, the fear of poetry mostly comes from not writing it. Therefore, I recommend those who are afraid of poetry to pick up a pen, or sit at their computers and write a poem. There are many techniques of poetry writing to learn from, but I emphasize on the content - not the structure. There are many poetry resources online that one can get help from and it does not matter how you write in the first place.
Do not be concerned about writing good or bad poems. Just pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write. Everybody has a story, a feeling or a thought that wishes to share. There are always people who you can share your poems with. Reach out for your inner sources and write with your own voice. What comes from the heart goes to the heart. Writing poetry makes us better readers of poetry, too. Once we experience how poetry is written, and how it works, we enjoy reading it more, and then we are no longer afraid of poetry.
What is an interesting fact about you?
I can cross one eye and not the other.
Where are you from / Where do you live?
I am from Tehran, and live in Manhattan.
Who is your favorite poet?
There are many, but if I should mention just one poet that would be definitely Forough Farokhzad. In English poetry, my favorite is Emily Dickinson.