A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Z.R. Ghani

with Z.R. Ghani

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Z.R.: I started writing at the age of 16 when I read Jane Eyre and fell in love with it. I started off by writing surrealistic short stories and planning epic novels which never saw the light of day. Poetry always fascinated me and I was drawn to Shakespeare’s sonnets and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, but I didn’t start writing poems until my English teacher at college read a sonnet I wrote for my homework. He was impressed and encouraged me to keep writing, so I did!

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Z.R.: So many poets come to mind. However, I’ve always loved Carol Ann Duffy, Pascale Petit, and Ezra Pound. When I read their work I just want to grab a pen and paper and start scribbling away. Influences are great but I do believe in getting to know yourself, finding your voice so you’re not copying someone else but being true to who you are.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Z.R.: I grew up in Mauritius and moved to England when I was 8 years old. I tend not to write about Mauritius as much as I’d like to. Not sure why that is, it’s not a subject matter I automatically turn to. London, however, inspires me to no end. I love the diversity of the city, and the contrast between quiet parks and concrete jungles. At the same time I still feel like a stranger in London. It’s probably why I explore themes of self and identity in my work. I also like to write about where I am in my life right now, how I feel about myself at this point in time. Poetry is about confessing your truth – at least for me it is! I’m also inspired by Greek mythology, art, and fairytales. 

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?

Z.R.: I’ve put together a poetry pamphlet recently titled ‘In the Name of Red’ and looking to get it published. It was put together during the first lockdown and that was the first time I dedicated myself to a body of work when I felt as though I was being completely honest about my past and the events that have shaped me.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Z.R.: When I was studying at university, I chose the poetry module in my second and third year as a last resort. I thought, “how hard can it be?” and didn’t fully understand the work that goes into writing poems. The first few poems I wrote were badly received and I wanted to give up. After a long period of doubt I decided to read more poetry and be less forgiving with the editing. This not only improved my work but I realised that poetry was a crucial part of my life and I could never abandon it. 

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Z.R.: I like sewing, drawing, cooking, and going on long walks.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Z.R.: n/a here are links to some poems

Poem by Z.R. Ghani : “Heart Shaped Wreath”

Poem by Z.R. Ghani : House on a Tightrope

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Z.R. Ghani


Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Z.R.: These lines are from an unpublished poem I wrote about Elizabeth I:
“Her beauty retreats as she looms near,/ becomes so rare it never existed –”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Z.R.: All my university tutors were amazing in helping me to develop my voice, I wouldn’t be writing now if it wasn’t for them. I am eternally grateful to Matthew MC Smith, an accomplished poet and the Editor of Black Bough Poetry, who believed in my work even before I had a Twitter account and was just a wannabe Instagram poet. I’ve still got a long way to go but I believe in myself because of him and owe him a lot for motivating me. 

Poem by Z.R. Ghani : House on a Tightrope

(c) Z.R. Ghani

House on a Tightrope

Only you and I make the most of this bench,
fenced in by overgrown grass and scentless 
flowers that even the butterflies find charmless.
The smoke of tiny flies deter everyone else
but us. We go there to talk – about the rent,
bills, destiny, how we manifested a hope
into truth. Aeroplanes carve white rainbows
as we incantate plans for the blossoming
of splendid tomorrows. The house on a tightrope
is in sight from here, trees blotting the view. 
We stare; I often ignore the sensation of falling.
Once, I came alone, looked up at what I thought 
was a dragonfly – turned out to be grasshopper. 
In my dreams the dragonfly glowed neon green. 
And I told myself that it’s a pigeon luxuriating
in the bushes, not a familiar London rat. 

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Z.R. Ghani

Poem by Z.R. Ghani : “Heart Shaped Wreath”

photo by Z.R. Ghani
Heart Shaped Wreath

Sun and branch stripe over me,
luminescent bumblebee -
I stray into a heart shaped wreath,
elderly trees on either side
weave handshakes, agree
to keep me a secret.
Flame-throated birds tidy
the floor, primp
thickets with straw;
wild horses breeze through,
bound for patchwork hills.
The difference between London
and here is the husk of bygone seeds
and my lover's naked skin.
Autumn is a treasure not rare;
in the countryside, these russet paths
lure you into their palms
at any time of year.
I'll wait until the sun burns
over the horizon,
welding the heavens
to the Earth, press my head
against a moss-covered cushion
(once stone),
eavesdrop on its inner brook
buffing the silence smoother,
and yawn like a tiny bird
crossing the vastness,
garnishing the night with stars.

Bio Below:
Several more Fevers of the Mind WolfPack members to welcome: Linda M Crate, Peter Hague, Faye Alexandra Rose, Z.R. Ghani, Jackie Chou, Katrina Kaye, Margaret Royall, Nina Parmenter & Rickey Rivers Jr.

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Z.R. Ghani

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Z. R. Ghani is a ‘Best of the Net’-nominated poet from North London, UK. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Zaina’s poems have appeared in Magma Poetry, Black Bough Poetry, The Willowherb Review, Square Wheel Press, Bind Collective, Hazel Press, and The Adriatic. —
Z.R. GhaniAuthor and poetBA Creative Writing (Hons), BA Creative Arts (Hons)Instagram: @z.r.ghani