Writing for the necessity of joy and the joy of necessity...

R a s m a   H a i d r i

About Rasma: the Five Ws, short form              (bio)

author portrait of Rasma Haidri

WHO came up with your name?

My father, from India, liked the name, which belonged to a colleague doctoral student from Latvia. He said that in Persian raz-i-ma could mean ‘my flower’ or ‘my secret’ depending on the inflection. I knew at a young age I was no flower.

I was surprised when relatives in Karachi found my name as unsual as my all-American neighbors did in Tennessee. In Latvia, I am told, the name is as common as a black-eyed Susan.

WHERE do you live?

In Norway. The land is stunning, stark and beautiful. The society is sane, safe and socialist. It is one of two places I have set foot on and immediately felt dissipate my lifelong restless feeling of not belonging. I’m half Norwegian by blood, so maybe it’s an attraction, like dowsing. When I didn’t live in Norway I longed for it. When people in Hawaii said we lived in a postcard, I knew I had to make my way back here. I did and fortunately I have had the privilige of staying.

WHY do you write poetry?

Each poem is an attempt to freeze a moment, a scene, in which I sensed there was more to it than the thing itself. The moment felt larger than the sum of its parts. We all have them, these glimpses, moments when we stop and take a breath because there’s a poignancy or wonder at play. Poems are attempts to see inside such moments, to capture and re-enter the experience so to understand its significance. 

WHAT else do you do?

I’m a Reiki master, stained glass artist, apprentice gardener. I like to make 3-dimensional articles of clothing out of one long string (knit), and read (doesn’t everyone?), and binge watch TV (doesn’t everyone?) and stare out my window. I don’t do enough of the latter. I mentor writers and hold writing workshops because I am intrigued by the creative process in all its forms.

WHAT else do you write?

I was solely a poet until I discovered creative non-fiction. Ironically, it was at a fiction conference where the only story I had ever written was given the conference prize by Stuart Dybek.  I felt like a fraud, because everyone else there was a fiction writer and I had simply written a story about something that was too big for a poem. Michael Steinberg was on a panel discussing this new “Fourth Genre” (the name of the magazine he was about to launch) that was —I realized— the form many of my failed poems needed to take.  I write short prose, lyrical essays and memoir. Blogs are a kind of essay, too. For a while I enjoyed writing textbooks, and earning some money from writing in the process. One day I’ll return to fiction. 

WHEN will your next book come out?

Ah, publishing is an impenetrable conundrum. My second collection is knocking on a few promising doors, and  I’m working on my third. I hope both will get published this side of 2025.