Today we’re pleased to welcome Francis Scudellari and nooshin azadi, editors of ‘meeting through the wall‘, a collection of 30 collaborative poems trying to find a balance between apparent contradictions.
nooshin was born in Tehran in 1965 and has an MA in english literature from Tehran university. You can find her on Google+ here.
Francis also has an MA in English Literature from Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL, and lives and works as a freelance IT consultant in Chicago in order to support his addiction to the written word. His written work and art can be found in a number of places, but most currently here.
A warm welcome to both of you. What drives your creative work?
nooshin: it’s all about wounds… even when they get healed, they leave some scars…
Francis: It starts with words. I’ve always been fascinated by language, and communication. For me, art is essentially a conversation, not just with an audience but with all those writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists whose work has influenced me in some way. In the past few years I’ve also experimented with drawing, but for me that’s more of a solitary and meditative exercise.
The “Meeting through the wall” project with nooshin was an attempt to explore collaboration and contradiction. We started with some simple rules, but again it came down to finding a way through the shaping of words to establish communication and understanding.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet yourself at the beginning of your creative career?
nooshin: being published feels like being punished… you learn to find a new way to get what you desire…
Francis: It would be hard for me to pinpoint what the start of that career was. I was fascinated by storytelling from an early age. The notion of being a “writer” was something that I had romantic notions of when I was a teen.. I pursued it a little when I was in my 20s, but I don’t think I was intellectually or emotionally ready to devote myself to it in a mature way. I guess you could say it’s like other relationships. I fell away from it for a decade and then blogging happened and I got used to writing regularly. So, my advice would be to put aside the dreamy idea of literary glory and treat writing more like a craft. Commit to it because it’s what you love doing, not based on any expectation of acceptance or reward. I’d also encourage myself to hang in there through the frustrations because pursuing writing will create opportunities to meet and interact with some wonderful people.
How do you keep creating when things get difficult?
nooshin: a long time ago i was forced to choose difficult as my cult…
Francis: When things get difficult, it usually means I’m distracted or tired or moody or trying to force myself onto a piece instead of letting it come on its own terms. I’ll step away from it, and either work on a drawing, or listen to music, or lay down to clear my head. That’s when the ideas feel more welcome and visit me again.
Working with nooshin, the most difficult times were when I had to come up with my initial sets of lines without knowing what she was writing. The easiest part was when we exchanged our lines for the final stanzas of the poems and I could work off the ideas she presented me. I’ve always found collaboration to be very energizing.
How does your creative work affect the rest of your life?
nooshin: it gives it a rest!
Francis: I try to do the work that pays so I have the wherewithal to write, and I try to do some living outside of work so I have things to write about.
Through projects like the one nooshin and I worked on, writing can open my mind up to new ways of looking at the world and interacting with others. Writing is also often a way I can “think out loud” and work through my responses to events or other people’s ideas.
What is it like to send your work out into the world?
nooshin: it’s like hearing your own echo when you’re lost in the mountains…. first you think you are heard but then you come to know that you should keep on shouting…
Francis: It can be both liberating and frustrating. It’s liberating knowing that the piece no longer belongs to me — it’s out in the world pursuing it’s own life. At the same time, that separation is frustrating in the sense that I can’t influence how it’s treated by the world, if it’s treated by it at all.
Marketing my work has never been my strong suit, and it’s not something I’m particularly interested in. This becomes more of an issue with a project like “Meeting through the wall” where I’d like to get it more exposure, not for any hope of personal recognition, but because I think it could dispel some notions people have about the differences between East and West.
What was the best advice anyone gave to you?
nooshin: “hitler was a perfectionist”…
Francis: My friend George Kokines, who is a painter, told me that all artists need to work within their limitations. This forces you first to acknowledge that you do have limitations, and second to focus on how you can use them to your advantage creatively.
What helps you to pay attention to the world?
nooshin: not looking in the mirror too much… and being slow…
Francis: This little box I’m tethered to most of the day. There’s no way I can’t pay attention to the world when I’m connected to it so much of the time. In a sense I can be many places at once. Without it I never would have met nooshin and a number of other inspiring poets, writers and other creative types. Of course, it’s no substitute for the real thing. There is a seductive side to the virtual world that pretends it can take the place of reality, and I need to break free of that and interact more with flesh and blood people and the hard rocks and soft seas of the world. I hope that I’ll get the opportunity to travel more in the near future.
Thank you so much for your responses, and best of luck with your collection.