Interview with Poet Eeva Maria al-Khazaali – Installment 6

Today’s Poet is greeting us all the way from Finland! Eeva is well educated in the arts as she has studied Creative Writing in Orivesi College of Arts, Performing Arts in University of Bedfordshire, and Film Studies in University of Wolverhampton. Her work is now being translated into English and it’s an honor to be supporting her in this next step of her writing career.


The summary of your collection That I Would Dream About It had a line that really stuck out to me – “she is obsessed about the idea of women writing history and making their own stories heard”. How does this drive affect your work and your thoughts on the poetry community?

I feel that it is crucially important to make those stories heard that have been silenced and who don’t have their voices heard in the society. It is the stories (and poems) of the unrepresented minorities who need this the most. I would like to write herstory, instead of history – literature that tells a women’s stories instead of the history of white privileged men. In the poetry community of my home country I have walked in the middle of networking meetings and events to take my place in the midst of men.

I have faced so many young male art students and artists in my life that have said that I am a little girl, especially when I was not yet published, that I will not be able to ever do anything important with my life and my writing. I have proven them wrong with hard work and resilience, despite what people had told me before.


What does it mean for you personally and your writing career to have your work translated and marketed in a second language?

Personally, I learned to speak English at the age of 5. It means a lot to me to have translated my own work in something that I could call my second language. I have spoken English for so long that it felt comfortable to write the translation myself. Having my words in English, out there in the great big world, has made me more confident on impacting lives around the globe. Finland, where I am from, has a very small population and even less actual readers of poetry. This means that my words would have never had the chance to spread wide if it wasn’t to being published in English, too. It excites me to see the world take my book away, whatever it may.


Your line breaks are very deliberate and well thought out, what’s been your thought process behind that writing style decision?

The free verse poetry made a break-through in my home country post-world war II, in the 1950’s. It was then when the lines started to finally break in the middle of the verse. The feminist poets of that time have made me understand the special qualities of language in a line break: it sounds more sinister, more mature, more like literature. (Insert some laughter here). Instead of writing in monotone, I can use the style of writing in a more vivid and rhythmic way, even if I will never write verses in rhyme. But maybe then I will be old school again when the spoken word and rap will have their way and everything will be tied to rhyme again in poems. I just have personally hated rhyme in poems all my life and my line breaks as the necessary structure.


What growth did you notice from your first collection to your second?

I saw tremendous growth from my debut collection to my second book! I could have not believed how much my expressions could expand and live through-out those years in between of these books. My debut was prose poetry in a dramatic narration. It was an experiment as such but now I feel so free doing what I do, writing in free verse with a clear voice, as lucid as I can. I have always admired writers who have managed to write in such precise ways – and now, in my early 30’s I feel I have finally reached the point where I can rely on my senses and my experiences in life enough to speak not only for myself but to aim to speak for all others who might not have had the chance to speak for themselves before.


You’ve started a new project, I Want You, have you always wanted to make a jump into movies?

My full-length debut movie is indeed in post-production at the moment. I have always been interested in the poetics of film. As a young writer I was fascinated by the relationship of light, space and time in fine art and in correlation to writing. I did little research on how light is written about and watched a lot of art house movies a decade ago, not knowing one day that research would be taken to a film set and action.

Marguerite Duras wrote a film that inspired me back then a lot: Hiroshima mon amour. An idea to write about in a language for the silver screen had me dream about it ever since I saw the movie. I am saying that language can be gentle like light – or ashes. It can portray a world that was once hidden or invisible and our movie, I Want You, tries to experiment on those aspects of cinematic expression and poetics of film in a dialogue that is written as a narrative voice over the whole movie.

It was not a jump I had planned to go from poems to screenwriting. It just happened one day when I went to a 24/7 gas station to write. I wrote for 8 solid hours and came back home tears in my eyes, realizing I had written my first real movie. Now I am on to my second movie script with a team. I cannot speak a lot about that project yet but it is about a very sensitive and fragile topic. I will let you know more when it goes to production!


Click here to get your copy of Eeva’s collection That I Would Dream About It!

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