Basim Al-Ansar on Writing

Sousan Hammad has up a new interview, with Iraqi poet Basim al-Ansar, on the Beirut39 blog.

Al-Ansar, who now lives and writes in Denmark, tells Hammad about a time his father was delayed coming home from work (his father usually brought chocolates, which apparently delighted the young Al-Ansar). Anticipation and dread led the seven- or eight-year-old poet-to-be to ponder questions of life and death. He says this was the beginning of his career as a writer:

By the way, my dad did return home that day, with the chocolates, meaning he did not die until 10 years after that incident. However, he’s not dead to me, he died “physiologically” but he’s still alive in my head, because writing has not yet died for me. The fact that writing has manifested itself in my life is linked to the subject of my dad and that imaginable incident.

Al-Ansar names Badr Shakir Al-Sayab as his biggest influence, and, showing that he is a poet and not a novelist, says he prefers the initial, birthing stages of the writing process:

When I write, I rise above my anger and my human instincts, and I take refuge in the instincts of poetry and prophecies, and the pleasure of discovery and knowledge. These moments do not exhaust me, what is exhausting to me are the next steps, when I have to rewrite and edit the text. This is the time when I have to be technical and use my craft as a writer. A writer is usually versed in his craftsmanship, but sometimes it gets exhausting trying to invent new techniques or finding a new voice for the text…etc.

Much more from Basim Al-Ansar at the Beirut39 website.