An Interview with Rachel Barduhn

Rachel Barduhn is an aspiring poet and writer from Scarborough Ontario. Ever since the age of six, writing has become the first love of her life. She has since preformed her poems in small open mics and recently included in black owned art magazine PITCH and The Big Art Book by Scarborough Arts. She hopes her workwill inspire others to be true to themselves, empower others and to make her voice heard.

Her poem, Mango of my Eye, is part of Pinhole Poetry’s launch issue.

Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your poem? For instance, how or why you wrote it, or perhaps provide some extra context? 

The line “The Apple of my Eye” is one I often hear being referenced in songs and other art forms. It made me want to create a Caribbean spin on the saying. I have a lot of family from Jamaica I haven’t met yet but I have tasted an island mango. Let me tell you, nothing compares. But also wanted to add queer romantic love that was inspired by the feeling of hearing old school reggae songs growing up. I feel a strong connection to my Caribbean roots and my queer identity and wanted to intertwine the two. 

If you didn’t write poetry, how do you think you might access the same fulfillments that poetry offers in your life? 

I also had the desire for filmmaking. Any art where storytelling is involved, I would want to try it out. I mostly am fascinated with the idea of creating music. Rap is a form of poetry and I might not be much of a rhymer, the spirit is still there. I would find it just as fulfilling to write my own lyrics as the subject matters are just as limitless in my eyes.

What are you working on now? 

I’m working on a collection of free-verse poetry. Most of them are based on my personal experiences throughout my life and my identity. I might also dive into short stories or perhaps a novel. The possibilities are endless. 

How or where or with what does a poem begin? 

A poem begins in a spontaneous moment. Usually with the feeling of a song blasting through my headphones or a subject left ignored or unspoken about. Most of my work reflects on the truth most are afraid to talk about. Even subject matters that frighten me. It can be a personally healing experience or something I have finally accepted. If a passion lights a fire in my eyes, that’s where an idea transforms into a poem. 

Are there other art forms that inspire or inform your poetry? 

Many different art forms can contribute to my craft. One being music because sometimes the lyrics of a song bring out a whole new perspective. Sometimes a song can be from the point of view of the person singing but sometimes I can’t help but become curious of the thing or person they are singing about. What is their story? 
Another being visual arts. There is a story within a painting, sometimes your eyes can take an entirely new meaning from it. There is a hidden poem only a poet or writer in general can see. 

How do you make space for poetry in your daily routine? 

Believe it or not, I have always squeezed in room for poems in the busiest of times. No matter how busy I was. I would  scribble ideas on grocery receipts, scarp paper, napkins during a family dinner and once on the inside of my palm. I’ll save it the entire day until I reach my journal or laptop. Revise and edit it a couple times just to be sure its the one. Poetry is just as important to me as every thing else in my life. I have to make room for what keeps me happy. My happiness matters and putting myself first is something I struggled with most of my life. This form of art has taught me just that.

Have you ever received advice (or has there been something you’ve learned on your own) about writing or revising poems that has made you a better poet? What was it? 

The best advice I ever gotten was to continue to write whatever I wanted. Not to write to please a crowd because you’ll be miserable. Other people might want to tell you what to write but in the end only you know what feels right. You don’t find success or personal fulfillment in following others, you make waves when you write past the criticism. 

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