A while ago, Merve published her own poetry book titled “A Life Lost.” Drawing from her own experiences as a Turkish immigrant in the Netherlands, she combines her love for medieval literature and contemporary, exploratory format of poetry to talk about all things witchy, mystical yet relevant to the current culture. She has also impressively drawn illustrations in the book herself, which complement the words conveyed on each page. With the interview here below, Merve explains more about her poetry and thought process when writing.
1. What is your poetry mainly about?
It’s mostly about my perspective on immigration, the experiences that come with leaving a home, and some historical events such as the horrible witch trials and civil wars.
2. What kind of format do you use?
Experimental would be the right term to describe them but I play around with a lot of poetry forms such as sonnet and sestina – I get inspired by classical poetry formats but I lean towards free verse as well.
3. What or who inspired you to write this?
I’ve always had a passion for writing and reading but during the first years of my university, I discovered that I enjoyed writing poetry more. It’s more enigmatic and captures a mindset differently from prose. Similar to poetry, my mind is puzzling and has bits and pieces that make a mosaic.
4. What were the biggest challenges when writing the poems?
When I wanted to write at first, I was almost forcing myself to feel a certain way which caused me to have a writer’s block – and the last thing I wanted in my poetry is to sound contrived. Poetry is very different from writing a novel or in prose because you need to capture an atmosphere or an event more specifically: every rhyme, word, and even punctuation, matter. Poems can be the window to your soul, but it’s important to show that to your audience rather than telling them that.
5. If there’s one message you want to convey to your audience about your poems, what would it be?
There is one main message that runs within all my poems, which shows the voices of the unheard. I’ve felt speechless at many points of my life and could not express myself in a way I wanted to. Writing allows me to speak to people and reach out to them without even talking to them directly – and that is the beauty of poetry: everyone can make a different sense of what those words mean due to their personal experiences. With this collection, I hope that I inspire others to share their art as well. Perhaps everything has been said already, but the way we express it, the multifaceted aspect of our personality and experience are what make us unique.
6. Speaking of unique, what’s one aspect that is the most striking to your anthology?
The combination of my experiences alongside events of centuries ago share a common theme: feeling lost and marginalised, and the yearning for something that is no longer available. For example, I was drawn to the horrific witch trials in England and I felt really close to those people because perhaps my ancestors could have been in their shoes. That’s why I wanted to capture their feelings of despair and ostracism in my poetry collection – and that’s something that many marginalized individuals still endure today.
Those events of the past may not occur in the same way in this day and age, but there are still remnants of them as well as new intricate problems. I’d say that is the most striking aspect of my anthology: intertwining the past and the present, the mundane and the magic realism. It highlights the resemblance yet vast difference between the struggles of the unheard today and back then.
About the Author
Merve Derya Yazıcıoğlu is a poet, book and film reviewer, and currently a graduate student of Film Studies in Turkey. She studied English Literature at Roskilde University in Denmark before she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Groningen.