@Yahialababidi is one of steem's most inspiring writers/artists/activists/thinkers in our humble opinion, and we were deeply honored that he said "yes" to being featured in @TheNewAlchemists very first artist interview!
An Egyptian-American thinker/poet, @Yahialababidi is the author of 7 critically-acclaimed books, and runs a beautifully engaged steemit blog as well.
Not only is every post beautifully penned, Yahia is also a master commenter...leaving insightful comments to everyone who engages him. He does not just write beautiful words, he also spreads a beautiful presence through his creative action on and off this site. As you may know by now, @TheNewAlchemists place high value on showcasing those artists who are committed to using their writing and work to build empathy in this world--and we consider Yahia to be a remarkable example of a human living out this ideal every day.
Without further ado, the interview!
We asked @Yahialababidi questions about his work and inspirations, and also asked him to tell us more about his upcoming project Where Epics Fail. Keep reading for more details.
@thenewalchemists asked: Tell us a little about you, and what drives you to create?
@yahialababidi answered: I've told my Coming to America story many times; so rather than telling it, again, readers can check it out, here.
I write out of an inner compulsion. Meaning, I prefer not to write if I have nothing to say, or share. This is why blogging, initially, presented something of a challenge for me. But, over the past few months, I think I'm getting into the swing of it, and learning to test my responsiveness to inner and outer worlds.
Partly, being on Steemit, feels like launching my diary into the world, which is something I think writers are almost expected to do: stand naked and bare their hearts to strangers.
Here's my latest post, for instance, where I confess to having stage fright and how I get through it in hopes it might help someone. One thing I've really enjoyed, on Steemit (as I do off it) is collaborating with fellow artists. Here's a poem of mine that Canadian music producer @rok-sivante breathed new life into
Otherwise, I blog about literary and cultural issues -sharing my enthusiasms and the occasional rant.
And because politics is an inescapable reality (especially, as a Muslim and immigrant in Trump's America) I do a little bit of that, too :) Here's a recent spot of Artivism in hopes of promoting more cultural tolerance and interfaith dialogue.
@thenewalchemists asked: What is one of your early creative projects that you are still proud of, and why?
@yahialababidi answered: Signposts to Elsewhere, my first book (of aphorisms) the bulk of which was composed between ages 19-21, though it would take me nearly a decade to publish it.
"Signposts to Elsewhere is sorbet sharp, always leaving the palate clean for another, and another…" said Mark Simpson, of The Independent (UK) ‘Books of the Year,’ 2008.
"Yahia Lababidi's aphorisms are elegant, thoughtful and wise, written proof that the art of the aphorism is still very much alive." said James Geary, author of Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists
@thenewalchemists asked: If there has been a defining moment in your creative career so far, what was it?
@yahialababidi answered: Every stage has its defining moments. First time in a magazine, in a newspaper, seeing your name on a book cover etc..
Being selected as a juror for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (referred to as the American Nobel Prize) was pretty high up there. Having poetry of mine chosen for an internationally best-selling US college textbook, Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing (10th edition) another honor.
Guest editing a special issue of World LiteratureToday -recognized by the Nobel Prize committee as one of the “best edited and most informative literary publications” in the world - was last year's highlight.
Also, the fact that the WLT special issue it was a theme close to my heart, "Belief in an Age of Intolerance" and that I was able to bring onboard literary heroes of mine, like Stephen Mitchell and Robert Bly.
@thenewalchemists asked: What is the most meaningful work to you personally that you’ve written?
@yahialababidi answered: My forthcoming book,Where Epics Fail, means the most to me, to date, because it is the latest version of my soul -- the sum of everything I know, so far.
It's also the book that's taken the longest time to produce of the other 6 volumes I've published to date.
I am very grateful that it's off to an auspicious start, having been featured on PBS Newshour & endorsed by President Obama's inaugural poet, Richard Blanco.
Readers, who might be interested, can order a hardcover version or and e-copy, directly from my publishers, and receive them in July, just in time for the summer :)
@thenewalchemists asked: Why did you decide to write WHERE EPICS FAIL, and what should readers know about the piece?
@yahialababidi answered: I never quite, consciously, decide to write a book.
Whether poems, essays, conversations or aphorisms, as is the case with Epics they are assembled or compiled. Meaning at some point after a few years of working in one form, I'll step back and realize, here's a book! Epics is composed of around 800 original aphorisms, which I define as "what is worth quoting from the soul's dialogue with itself." You can watch the video trailer here,, or below, to get an idea of how far-ranging this project is.
@thenewalchemists asked: And because all thinkers and creatives must unwind, what is your favorite thing to do that affirms your own existence and helps you to relax?
@yahialababidi answered: Reading helps but, most of all, Silence is how I recharge after so much mouthing off.
And that concludes @TheNewAlchemists very first artist interview on steemit! We are so proud that we were able to feature @Yahialababidi in particular and look forward to introducing you to more incredible artivists (artist + activist) soon. Until then--fly and be free.
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