1. “Pictopoems of Berlin” offers “a dreamy walkabout of Berlin…decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” What prompted this work?

“Pictopoems of Berlin” emerged from my collaboration with the German artist Tatiana Arsénie and it is based on her astounding collection of drawings of Berlin.

It felt as if Tatiana’s drawings captured facets of a story, a story of what the Romans called genius loci – the spirit of the place. The spirit of Berlin. It was tempting to get inserted into the story and to offer a poetic commentary which led us both into the direction of “pictopoems.” The fall of the Berlin Wall is an echo that indirectly resonates in the book – as a seminal moment of our times.

2. Your first poetry titles were in Romanian (Limit of Visibility and Continuous Poem). Were you consciously doing anything different to the canonical forms, genres, and tropes in your latest titles in English? What was your process for crossing over?

Reading up on contemporary Canadian poetry was instrumental to my crossing over to writing in English after arriving in Canada. Some of us may hold the view that writing is a fluid matter and can easily be “ported” from one language to another. However, I’ve learned from experience that reality is more nuanced.

When a poem bubbles up to the surface, it cuts across multiple layers of language and cultural and personal experiences. For poetry to be relevant, it should be in sync with its target audience’s literary and aesthetic norms. These norms may subtly vary from country to country, and it takes some time to adapt to them.

No matter its technique, form, or language, a good poem is also the skillful communication of a local context.

3. In “Sea Glass Circe,” you reshaped classical myths to everyday situations? What was the motivation behind this work? How did you end up with the form that you finally used in this title?

“Sea Glass Circe” comprises three sections of poems, a template modeled on the three-part sonata. (Marcel Proust inserts an invented sonata – the Vinteuil sonata – in one of his novels.)   In “Sea Glass Circe,” the book’s second section includes allusions to classical myths and literature, simply because the classics constitute a rich system of reference that can be exploited at a moment’s notice.

4. Your most recent title, “Variations sans palais,” is part of the Poets from Five Continents series that “search(es) for a different language, an interior immigrant of languages, the language of exile of all languages.” How did you go about constructing this work?

“Variations sans palais” (Variations without a palace) is a collection of poems I wrote in French out of sheer enjoyment, not knowing what would become of it. One of this book’s allegorical themes is the passage to a new world. I sent the manuscript to several book publishers in Quebec and to Éditions L’Harmattan in Paris, France. I am supremely grateful to Éditions L’Harmattan for getting to the gist of the matter so quickly and for finding it a place among its collections.

5. Do you train your subconscious in certain ways to deal with success or rejection? 

I love reading books on mental toughness and making notes on index cards – but that’s the extent of it. Not entirely “training.”

6. Do you remember any experience around learning to write that became formative for you in the later years?

One vivid experience is rooted in witty criticism and irony. I was part of a writing group in high school, where one’s creations were mercilessly taken to pieces by peers and literature teachers in an elegant and derisive manner that left aspiring authors both ecstatic and bewildered. Once personal evaluations were delivered, the group’s attention turned to literary works of note as their next target. This ritual taught me that nothing is sacred when it comes to writing. It taught me the boldness to experiment, the value of rewriting, and how to laugh in the middle of it all.

7. What specific incident incited/inspired your last piece of work (of any form or length)?

The last part of my book, “Variations sans palais,” borrows an idea from the poem “Voyelles” by Arthur Rimbaud, where the poet assigns a colour to each vowel. In “Variations sans palais,” I built a chain of mini-poems under the heading of each letter of the alphabet.

8. What does it mean/suggest for you to think about your craft with each published work? If you were to associate an image with the development timeline of your writing craft, what would that look like?

Each published work is an opportunity to understand the market, the readership, and how my offering measures up. It also shows me blind spots that I would have to deal with in the next project. Associating an image with the development timeline of my writing craft? A succession of snakeskins shed at various times, pointing the way forward.

9. Does your writing practice impact your emotional state in any way? Does it put you in a certain mood or an emotional state? Or helps you get away from a certain mood or an emotional state? Can you reflect on that?

When immersed in editing a draft, I start gaining distance from myself and focus on precision. I enter a glacial climate.

10. What is new in the world that you need to capture in your writing?

New in the world – every day? The regenerative and self-healing power of language and words, whose fleeting beauty is something I can never get enough of.

Author Bio

Irina Moga is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC). Her book “Sea Glass Circe,” was selected for an official launch as part of the 2020 Toronto LitUp!, Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA). Her latest poetry book, written in French, “Variations sans palais,” was published with Éditions L’Harmattan (France) in 2020. Irina’s work has appeared in literary magazines such as: “Canadian Literature,” “carte-blanche,” “PRISM International” online, “Poetry Quarterly,” “Lettres Capitales,” and elsewhere.