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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Hedy Habra

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

hedy habra headshot 11Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I write because it seems like the most natural thing for me to do. I have always loved writing, whether critical essays, stories, poems, or recording my thoughts in a journal. It is a way of initiating a dialogue with other authors’ work, or paintings, and with other ideas. Writing helps one make sense of obsessions, dreams, emotions, but also helps, as well as reading, to transcend everyday reality, and inhabit a parallel world that can be constantly reshaped by the imagination.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

My second collection of poetry, Under Brushstrokes (Press 53, 2015) is, for the most part, inspired by artwork. I have a passion for visual art and I am also an artist. I have painted the cover art, as well as for my first collection, Tea in Heliopolis. In these poems, I try to delve under the artists’ brushstrokes to unravel hidden meanings or create a new version of the artwork, using the music and colors of language as tools.

In Under Brushstrokes, I have tried to use paintings as a point of departure for a flight of the imagination; an attempt at transforming a two-dimensional representation into a three-dimensional, almost cinematic rendition that involves all five senses and explores characters’ interiority. I am currently working on two poetry manuscripts in progress, one of them a bilingual Spanish and English collection, and the other inspired by the fissures caused by displacement, and the contrast between past and present. Continue reading

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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Tabish Khair

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

 

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Good question! I wish I knew. It is either like a person breathing or an alcoholic drinking, depending on the day.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

I have just finished a study of xenophobia. And I am finishing a novel on a very topical issue: the current rhetoric of jihad etc. The only way to find out what I had in mind while writing them would be to read them. Preferably, after buying a copy of each. Preferably, after buying two copies of each – one for your friend, one for yourself.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

Is there one? Apart from good coffee? Continue reading


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What makes an artist an artist: Giving the context

In his 1891 essay ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, Oscar Wilde wrote, “…the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman”: DNA 

he debate on whether art should be for art’s sake and what should be an artist’s role in society is an old one. In the 19th century, some artists began to argue that creative works possessed their own intrinsic value and must not be required to satisfy utilitarian or moral functions. French novelist and critic Théophile Gautier promoted the slogan ‘l’art pour l’art’ (that translated into ‘art for art’s sake’). In his 1891 essay ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, Oscar Wilde wrote, “…the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman.” In India, too, this has been a subject of much debate. And clearly the last word has not been said.

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