Interview Conducted by Caitlyn Siehl, PD Managing Editor
1. How do you think art correlates with trauma and coping with trauma? Do you think it has unlocked an entirely new way of breaking the silence that survivors of abuse are often forced into?
Art, no matter the medium, can heal. Art has this weird power of making strangers feel. I’ll look at a painting and you’ll read a poem and suddenly, something is different. It’s magic. I really like the back-and-forth of the art process. You create and you are alone while you create and you spill what is inside of you and things burn and break and pour. Then you share and it’s almost as if a balm is smeared over the wounds, even if you’re just sharing with yourself, an older self, one who has experienced that burning and breaking, and can now try to understand it. Or maybe you share your work with someone a thousand miles away and they read it or look at it or watch it, and there is a balm smeared over their wounds too. It’s just magic.
2. What does the myth of Persephone mean to you as a writer and as a woman?
I love the myth of Persephone. I think it’s such a layered and complex story. I like the idea of Persephone as doe-eyed, watering lavender with Demeter. I like the idea of Persephone on a throne, watching the souls of men float down the river. I like the idea that what is seen as ruined or decayed or gone can grow back as strong as ever.
3. How has writing help you grown? How has running your own literary journal help you grown?
Writing is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories. It’s always helped me make sense of wet, ugly things.
Running Winter Tangerine is different – there was a definite Before and After there. Winter Tangerine has helped shaped my voice, my opinions, my tastes. I’m kinder and also more ruthless. I’m sharper and I’m softer. I’m more aware of what I won’t tolerate and what I will fight for.
4. What is your advice to the young women, the young survivors out there trying to move forward with their art and their healing?
Do whatever gets you where you want to go.
I feel like there’s this pressure to always be doing something with the work you create – to send it to magazines, or put it in a book, or make a zine, etc – but I think there is incredible worth in creating for the sake of healing, creating for the sake of creating, creating for the sake of yourself. Good luck. You can do this. There is always a tomorrow.
Yasmin writes. Her poetry has been/will be in PANK, Waxwing, Hobart, Muzzle, and on Verse Daily. Her work has also been showcased at MOMA P.S 1, the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the U.S Hall of Nations. Yasmin founded and now runs Winter Tangerine and works on being a better person. Send her letters of love, hate and indifference at yasminbelkhyr.com. You can also find her poetry at wildflowerveins.tumblr.com.