The Music of Words: Q+A with Sarp Demiral

Sarp Demiral is in his second year of the DP at GEMS Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. After showcasing his stellar poetry, Passports asked him a few questions about writing. 

How did you find out about Passports?

It happened quite spontaneously. One day on a dreary January afternoon, I was scrolling down Facebook as you do and stumbled on this awesome journal. I found it to be an extremely clever and engaging idea allowing IB students from all around the world have a chance of showcasing their works. So, I was like why not?

How did you get started in poetry?

So, I was trying to write a novel but I felt that I did not know my characters to the extent that I needed to know them to be able to structure a solid piece of work. Therefore, I started writing poems, as well as short stories, to get to know them better as actual people. My first poem was titled “Love’s Lie”, a story of two gods falling in love, but soon discovering what a lie that love was.

Who/what are your literary legends?

Oh my. This list could go on and on, but foremost, Nazim Hikmet would strike me as the man that fundamentally changed who I was as a person. He caused me to write more empathetically, compassionately and purposefully. I wasn’t writing poetry like the ones showcased here, no, not at all. I was merely writing about myself, and honestly, I hated that. It wasn’t meaningful. I didn’t want people to read only about me but about things that actually mattered.

I also quite like the fantasy legends like Brandon Sanderson, Terry Goodkind and Brent Weeks. These were the individuals that inspired me to begin cultivating my own ideas for novels of fantastical proportions. (But I suck at writing long pieces so who knows when those will be finished!).

What sets apart a piece of great writing?

Hm, I must say from my meager experience as a writer that, when you get down to it, it truly depends on the lyrical flow of your composition, especially in the case of poetry. While this might differ in novel writing and in other people’s preferences, in my personal opinion, I have always admired the way in which certain authors told their stories, making them sound almost like music to one’s ears. One example of such an author would be Haruki Murakami. Love that dude.

Honestly, one can write about the same thing every author has written about, but when they slightly change the way it might sound using their own way of writing, it has the chance of becoming something beautiful and unique.

How have your own experiences impacted your writing?

Well, some definitely impacted me quite powerfully. And experiences gone haywire are some of the most bittersweet moments for an artist. Sweet because you get to write some good ol’ poetry, but bitter because these experiences might not be your most fond and cherished memories.

I remember some nights sitting down before my computer at 4 am, just writing about a broken heart, a broken mind, and what I saw and heard in the news.

What do you hope to convey with your work?

The things, the topics that people of society choose to ignore. It hurts to see that. I aim to change, if possible, the ways in which individuals think about these subjects. Some of these topics are highlighted in the three poems showcased here in Passports.

What is the IB Program like at your school? How has it impacted your work?

The IB program here is fairly large with a cohort of around 94 students in Year 13 alone (that’s grade 12 for you US dudes and dudettes).

I wouldn’t necessarily say that the IB program impacted my work, but more so the people that consisted within it. A bunch of my poems are based off of friends and individuals I have met within my last years of high school.

Why are the arts important?

They say a lot of things without saying a lot. A person is given free reign to deduce and infer whatever meaning they are able to from a piece of art. That’s freedom right there. It’s important. It allows emotions to fester and build, creating beauty, chaos and unity.
It’s very important.

Do you enjoy other mediums of art, such as music, visual arts, or film? If so, which ones, and why?

I must say that I enjoy music the most. That’s mainly because I usually extract the majority of my inspiration by listening to pieces of music. Some of my poems even begin with a line from songs that truly manage to hit me across the face.

Also, they take me to another place; just like poetry does. I appreciate that.

What other hobbies do you have outside of school/writing?

I love reading books that allow me to live a thousand lives. I love playing video games with my older brother. I love laughing, smiling, living, and being here now.  

What is your favorite moment in the process of writing a poem?

Ah! Well, let’s see here.

I rather enjoy the moments where ideas and notions appear in your mind as if they were always there. Also, I love the moments where you being to write a poem with no basis of an idea to guide you, but you soon find yourself fifteen lines done and still going, your fingers like hurricanes with minds of their own.

There is a lot to like about poetry, especially when you’re writing it.