Hello, and welcome to our spotlight for today, where we will learn more about poet Ayala Zarfjian, who blogs at a sun kissed life. Tell us a little about yourself, Ayala.
I am the mother of two sons. My husband and I are Jewelers, we design and craft unique pieces in precious metals and we connect with many people. My sons Josh and Daniel inspire me to live every day with wonder and they have taught me to see the world through their eyes. They are my greatest teachers. It may sound corny but it’s true. Josh is a twenty-eight year old Emergency Room physician. He is living in Boston with his future wife Irina. He worked the day of the Boston Marathon. That day changed him and all of us forever. My son Daniel is thirteen years old. He is a student with an old soul. He usually reads my poems before anyone else does. A perfect day for me is when all of us are together. I know that sounds mushy hence my nickname. My husband nicknamed me Mushy for that reason, and now everyone calls me by my nickname. J I love to read and write. I love art, and photography. I love to travel and I love to go fishing with my husband. He makes me laugh and he makes me insane.
What do you think makes you the poet you are today?
Poetry is life. I’ve been writing since I am eight years old. There were years that I stopped writing because I was in a dark place. The words kept knocking in my sleep, the words would wake me up but I refused to write them down. When I began to write again, I felt like I could breathe again. All my struggles and all my pain have made me the poet I am today. I would not change a thing.
This is a poem expresses some of my journey.
Words I Have Forgotten
by Ayala Zarfjian
I traced words on leaves,
with my fingers and my toes.
I scattered them in the orange grove,
and watched how they were swept into the heavens.
The fields nearby were Peridot green,
inviting and unassuming,
I knelt down,
wishing the scars would heal,
and I can find them once again.
The sun shined with regret,
attempting to console my emptiness.
The wounds of life led me to abandon
the words I love as I buried them deep inside.
Poetry, my old friend,
you found me while I played hide and seek
with my words.
While I wrote them on napkins and receipts
and tossed them away.
Poetry you found me in the ocean,
on a moonlit night,
the tide was rising,
the fish were biting.
You found me and I could no longer hide.
I had forgotten how you heal me,
how you awaken my desire,
how you let my soul dance outside my body.
Who in your family most influenced you or inspired you in your writing?
My father was a writer among other things. His life was well lived. He survived the holocaust and went on to lead a life that was rich. He had a love for life that he gave to us. He was a self-made man who was admired by many. My brothers and I adored him. He believed in my writing and he hoped that I would pursue it. I remember being a little girl and listening to my father read love poems to my mother. It was beautiful and inspiring to watch. My father passed away is 2008 and my mother passed in 2009. I began writing my blog in 2010 as a way to deal with my grief and despair. The blog evolved into a poetry blog because poetry is my true passion. I found that writing was a salvation to me. I met a wonderful community of writers, poets and other bloggers going through the same pain of loss and the joys of motherhood. I felt the support was incredible. Connecting with other writers that were just as passionate as I was definitely fueled my desire to continue writing. Our poetry community was always supportive especially Mr. Brian Miller. He is a light for all of us.
Where do you write- – at a table, a desk, while in bed, when traveling, outdoors, in a quiet place known only to you? Also, when did you feel you were truly a poet?
I would have to say all of the above. When I travel I find myself inspired by art, music, people, sights, smells, and food. When I am out on the ocean fishing, I can see wonderful things like dolphins and sea turtles and it all inspires me. I am passionate about life. Most of my best poems I stumble on while feeling the inspiration. I write the words down quickly before they are lost. Lately I sit in my dining room there is painting on the wall with an angelic woman and cherubs that was hanging in my parents’ home. I feel peaceful there. My life is very busy so I find myself juggling every day and writing whenever I can.
I felt I was a poet the first time my father (who was a poet) read a collection of my poems. He wanted me to publish them. His admiration and support meant the world to me.
What would you like to see your poetry evolve into? In what direction do you feel you would like to go?
In my twenties my father urged me to self publish a collection of poems. During the time that I was collaborating with the publisher, he fell ill and closed down. At that point I didn’t want to pursue the publishing any longer. I feel differently now. I would like to self publish a collection of poems by the end of the year. I am also working on a project about the holocaust. I would like to publish stories of my father and my aunt. I believe they are stories that we must tell and we must remember. I am also working on a memoir. The memoir is the hardest one because it leaves me the most vulnerable.
My greatest accomplishments are my sons. I raised Josh as a single parent for the first nine years. It was a privilege. He was my world and I was his. One of the greatest compliments of my life was when Josh was interviewed for medical school. The interviewer asked him who his hero was. I innocently asked him what his answer was. He said that I was. I was touched deeply. My second marriage brought me Daniel. Raising Daniel with a partner that was present gave me a different perspective on parenting. I have given them both unconditional love and a love for life. I nourished them with books from the time they were in my womb. Both of them love books. I write poems for them all the time. I tell them that life is poetry and poetry is life.
What is your favorite word?
My favorite words are gratitude and love. I live with gratitude in my heart. My life had many rocky roads and many struggles but I grew with every mistake, with every wrong turn. The pain was a gift, the joy was a gift and it made me who I am. Love is everything and it’s what defines me.
by Ayala Zarfjian
carry our biographies
Her voice gentle and soothing
as she instructs us into
a yoga pose.
The walls are green
a mix of
jade and avocado.
Our bodies remember
where we have been
and who we are.
They hold the scars and shame.
and remember the collisions
of my soul.
Does my body remember
when I’ve been beaten,
even though my scars have faded.
Does it remember despair and hunger
in my darkest moments.
I was a fearless young girl
that followed her heart.
I have traveled the road
of humiliation and determination,
highs and lows.
My body remembers
the joy of the birth of my children,
holding them for the first time
as my soul lifted.
The sorrow of my parents dying,
the conflicts of religion
and spirituality .
The hopscotch between
that were once both home to me.
How I felt anxiety and loneliness
until I built a new world.
My soul rises,
it’s always known where I belong
and how I feel.
I always knew,
never needed to search
for my identity.
I am complicated,
I have always followed
My words have guided me,
gave me a voice.
I wish to leave the words behind
but honest confessions.
I want to wear my shame
as well as I wear my triumphs.
My love will linger in my
boys hearts and
on my lovers lips.
My love is what defines me.
Thank you Laurie and dVerse . Happy and humbled to be here and to share more of myself with
our poetry community which I admire so much.
Your welcome, Ayala! Now it’s everyone’s turn to ask questions in the comments.