Teodora Dumitriu was born and lives in Campina, Romania. Passions: children, books and English. Sometimes, she writes.
INTERVIEW WITH TEODORA DUMITRIU
Welcome to Scarlet Leaf Review!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Funnily enough, I used to be an engineer because I’ve always loved the poetry of mathematics too. Spent twenty-eight years in the field of Power Engineering. Switched this year to teaching English to small children – an old dream come true.
Q: Do you think that your school years have had an impact in your writing career? If so, what were you like at school?
School years have had a huge impact on my whole life. Teachers made me see the difference between doing the thing(s) you love and just doing your job. I used to be an avid reader and a curious kid anyway. School made me develop a fascination for the dynamics of teaching and learning, of giving and receiving. School years made me even more curious about the whole of existence.
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
Well, to begin with, I’m not yet a writer/poet – and my wish is to become one.
Q: Which poets have inspired you and how? What was their impact on your work or your literary perspective?
You know, I took the question very seriously and began to make a list: Rumi, Yeats, Neruda, Hafiz, Baudelaire, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver… and at some point the ridiculousness of the list made me laugh, feeling like a donkey rating and labeling birds’ voices in order to DESCRIBE the way they inspired it (the donkey) to sing. Then the hypocrisy of name-dropping made me sad - there are many non-famous poets whose names I can’t remember (out of laziness and carelessness - Internet era, everybody’s out there, so much to read and you just skip the names sometimes, go straight to the verses and then jump from one webpage to another, from one thing to another and can’t find your way back) but whose poems equally made me GASP.
Goodness me. ALL poets inspire(d) me – by making me ache with the wish of being able one day to make one poem that would make one person gasp. And then another. And another.
And if I were to pick only ONE poet that I love, that would be e. e. cummings – his poetry simply makes me ANGRY it wasn’t ME who wrote it! .
Q: So, would you mind telling us what you have written so far?
In English, PRECISELY 12 [sic] poems FINISHED (I’d add a LOL, the editor permitting). A bit more prolific in Romanian.
Q: Where can we buy or see them?
Every poem I ever wrote so far is here, within The Scarlet Leaf Review.
Q: What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
Trying to convince myself it’s the right time to try to find that splendidly unyielding frame of mind so as to stop procrastinating and begin thinking seriously about beginning to refurbish a moth-eaten writing called The Game.
It’s a kind of patchwork prosetry which sort of sums up random thoughts that crossed my mind some times … based on rhymes - that are meant to distract the reader from noticing that there’s no structure, plot or reason and metaphors - to mask the author’s apprehension for precision.
Q: What makes you write? What’s the force behind taking your pen (or your keyboard) and put verses down?
Hesse put it like this: “We fear death, we shudder at life's instability, we grieve to see the flowers wilt again and again, and the leaves fall, and in our hearts we know that we, too, are transitory and will soon disappear. When artists create pictures and thinkers search for laws and formulate thoughts, it is in order to salvage something from the great dance of death, to make something last longer than we do.”
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Or is it just the spur of the moment, a special feeling you experience or a specific conjuncture that offers you inspiration?
Funnily enough, sometimes i see pictures in a flash but look for words to paint them until the cows come home; some other times words just whizz by splashing against the canvas/paper like crazed colours, so fast so fast so fast that the ear/eye can’t keep up with the nonsensical mess... BUT these ones are the best sort – basically, in a few months/years they write themselves (you just have to find something productive to do meanwhile).
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m getting used to using fewer and fewer adjectives.
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
In English - DEFINITELY phrasal verbs.
Q: Now, what about the easiest thing about writing?
Hanging around, hands in pockets, in a state a total bliss, while an equally elated doppelganger scribbles, frenziedly, the BEST verses you’ve ever read. Usually, in the morning, they (the verses) look different.
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block and if so do you have any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Oh, I get it all the time. My method is simple, low-cost and effective: cross out-replace, cross out-replace cross out-replace until it sounds really TERRIBLE and you get REALLY mad. Then tear up the piece of paper (very, VERY small bits) and SWEAR you won’t be doing the bloody thing EVER again. Then QUIT (for a few days/weeks/years). Do the dishes, make babies, walk the dog, get a PROPER job. You won’t believe the SURGE of inspiration this method brings forth. Oops, I’ve disclosed THE tip. Yes, I do use PAPER. The advantage being that i can destroy the abhorred words THEMSELVES and not another innocent object that happens to be around – which makes the ritual, as stated before, HIGHLY effective.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Used to be a voracious reader; not anymore – who knows why. Twain, Vonnegut, Thackeray, Tolstoy, Twain, Rushdie, Hesse, Voltaire, Twain, Coelho, Huxley, Tolkien, Twain. All the aforementioned poets. Oh, and Mark Twain.
Paper books FOREVER (nothing whatsoever against Kindle, BUT).
Q: What book/s are you reading at present?
Am re-re-re-re-re-reading Narcissus and Goldmund. And it’s only the interviewer’s fault!
Seriously now, NOTHING compares with re-re-re-re-re-re-reading a book that you love.
Q: What is your favorite motivational phrase? What is your favorite positive saying?
Huck Finn’s "All right, then, I'll go to hell”!
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
“Narcissus and Goldmund” – Hermann Hesse.
Because it’s absolutely perfect – the form complimenting the content and vice-versa, in the way described by the author himself: “Art was a union of the father and mother worlds, of mind and blood. It might start in utter sensuality and lead to total abstraction; then again it might originate in pure concept and end in bleeding flesh. Any work of art that was truly sublime, not just a good juggler's trick; that was filled with the eternal secret, like the master's madonna; every obviously genuine work of art had this dangerous, smiling double face, was male-female, a merging of instinct and pure spirituality.”
Q: What is your favorite quote?
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain
Q: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Mark Twain. I’d like to hear him speak.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us!
To bring joy to readers everywhere.