Thanet Writers Question Setareh Ebrahimi

Poet and editor Setareh Ebrahimi answers the Thanet Writers Discourse Questions.

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Hi, my name is Setareh Ebrahimi and I’m a poet currently living in Faversham. My book In My Arms was published by Bad Betty Press in 2018. I used to perform a lot but don’t have the chance now due to having a new little baby!


I was always writing. I was desperately lonely and didn’t have many outlets as a child. Writing was the cheapest, quietest thing I could do. I loved the escapism that the fantasy worlds created by Robert Jordan, J.K Rowling, and Phillip Pullman offered me—I needed them. I started to become interested in poetry in Year 8 of school and have been in love with it since then.


Injustice influences my writing. Other than that, my writing is influenced by femininity, gender—I like to write mostly about real-life situations and experiences, and I like to explore other people’s experiences in my work. My poetry helps me understand myself and the world I live in.


What doesn’t motivate me to write is getting a good pat on the back and a round of applause and being my own endless PR machine. What does motivate me to write is giving a voice to people and experiences which would otherwise be unheard, to explore beauty, to reflect on life, to figure things out—I have a philosophical approach to poetry.


Luckily, I tend to get ideas fairly often and I always jot them down. So, then I’ll have a first line, maybe a middle line, and perhaps a sense of what I’d like to convey at the end. Then I’ll think about my idea, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours, sometimes for months on end, and fill the poem in, as it were. I read constantly, which I would recommend to anyone serious about writing, and this really helps give me ideas. Other than that, I don’t write daily even though a lot of people recommend it. It doesn’t work for me. I write when I want to and when I have ideas because I don’t want it to be a chore.


Even though there is every kind of suffering imaginable in the world, I am inspired by beauty, by hope, by natural environments, and by human behaviour. I think spending time in nature is paramount to writing and to the soul. Ultimately, writing is an act of hope, and a sign that you’re alive. It can help you live rather than just exist.


What holds me back from writing at the moment is nursing a four-month-old baby! I’m not angry about this at all though—it is the way it is. Before, what held me back from writing was my string of endless banal jobs to make ends meet, my mental health, and all the other trivialities in life. There are times in life, maybe years, where you don’t write; it’s quite natural and often you need these to come back different and refreshed to writing. You can’t write all the time—you need to have periods when you don’t write so that you’re able to write when you can. That’s why I’m a firm believer that having a day job is a good thing.


Probably the publishing of my book felt like the biggest milestone for me in my writing career, but there have been great moments such as big gigs, headlining slots, different experiences, and just meeting different people, getting to know them, and pursuing creativity. Nothing is like the feeling of completing a piece of writing and having it be exactly what you wanted, so that always feels like a great achievement.


There’s a lot but if I had to choose one thing I’d say, for the love of all you consider dear, read! If you’re not going to read, don’t bother trying to write. After that, I would say write as much as you can and edit rigorously. After that, listen to other poets and writers read their work out—and I mean really listen and take things in. The last bit of writing advice I was given was by fellow poet, Rosie Johnston. She said that what you publish is just the tip of the iceberg. A writer needs everything
that exists under the waterline as well.


My book In My Arms is available for sale on Bad Betty’s website. I have upcoming readings next month at the Faversham Literary Festival—I’ll be at the Bookie Slam on 21st February and at The Limes on 22nd February.


Next for me is trying to write as much as I can, as well as I can, to read, and to try and have a peaceful, happy life, which is the most important thing.

Setareh Ebrahimi performs regularly, and is a poet working in Faversham, Kent. She is the author of In My Arms from Bad Betty Press.

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