Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani (pen name: Mina Ray), whose poem ‘Shadows is published in the second issue of Lucent Dreaming, was born in Zagreb. She is trilingual and has a multicultural background (Algerian mother/Croatian father). She moved to London in 1995. Jasmina started writing multilingual poetry in 2014. Her poems have been published in Great Britain, Canada and Croatia. Jasmina has a doctorate (PhD) in Francophone literary and cultural studies (University of Westminster, 2012). She is the author of a collaborative multilingual poetry project ‘Unbound’ across Croatia, France and Belgium established in 2017 with planned poetry performances in London and Zagreb.
What inspired your piece, ‘Shadows’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
‘Shadows’ is one of the first poems I wrote. It exists also in French and Croatian, the other two languages I write my poetry in. The theme of dreaming, awake or asleep, is a theme that fascinates me. I have a dream diary that I sometimes use when I write my poems. The inspiration for ’Shadows’ was a combination of a dream I had and of a moment of walking one afternoon in the snowy landscape of the North (I lived in Sweden for two years) and seeing my very long shadow on the snow surface. When I came across your magazine on social media, I was immediately attracted to the theme of dreaming, so I decided to send my poem.
What does writing mean to you?
Writing for me is a form of resistance. It is a valuable means of self-expression, but also of exploration of both poetic content and form. I like experimenting with voice, language, genre, form. I like pushing the barriers of meaning. Writing for me is also a unique form of communication with the other. Like reading, it is an important form of empathy.
What writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
I started writing multilingual poetry in 2014. My poetry has been published in the UK, Croatia and Canada. Last year, I developed a multilingual collaborative poetry project across the UK, Croatia, France and Belgium called ‘Unbound’. ‘Unbound’ is conceived as a series of multilingual, multimedia poetry performances exploring the relationship between word, sound and image. I am also working on a series of photo albums / short photo novels about the city. Each of my photographs is accompanied by haiku verses, poems in prose or short commentaries about the people I encountered during my journeys through the city. I find this type of writing in which the image and the word are combined really interesting to explore. And I love walking through the city and capturing an unexpected moment or situation. So far, I have completed two photo albums about London and one about Paris (a city where I regularly stay for some time in late summer). A text in Croatian about my photo album in Paris is about to be published for the interdisciplinary online magazine ‘Ideas’ (ideje.hr) in Croatia. Finally, I recently completed an essay about my own writing multilingual process to be published in the UK literary magazine ‘Balkan Poetry Today’, something that I am very proud of.
What are you most excited about right now and for the future?
I recently received funding from the AHRC-funded research project Language Acts and Worldmaking project (https://www.languageacts.org) based in London for my project ‘Unbound’. The funding will allow me to stage a multilingual performance in London in collaboration with the researchers and the artists from the project. I am really excited about this and I can’t wait to start working on it. My own University, Queen Mary University of London, is also supporting the project and the performance, something that I am also very grateful for.
How and where do you find inspiration to write?
I often find inspiration to write when I am in movement – travelling on the train or in the air. I often start with an emotion, a memory, a visual representation in my poetry writing. At the basis of each of my poems lies an image that I then develop. I am also very much inspired by what I see around me. This can be a person, a situation, or a landscape. How quickly I complete a poem varies. A poem either comes very easily, or I develop it for weeks (and sometimes years).
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
This is a very individual question, every poet or writer is different in her/his approach. Personally, I would advise them to just start writing. Finding one’s voice can be one of the most difficult things for a writer or poet to achieve, so experimenting with different types of poetry or writing is an essential part of the creative process, in my opinion. Taking risks is really important too. Enrolling on a course in creative writing or poetry can also be a very important stage in the process, although, in my opinion, not an essential one. Before I took my poetry course at City Lit, I had a body of poems behind me, and some of them were already published. Not enrolling immediately on a course, gave me the time to find my own voice and figure out how I wanted to write.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
They can read some of my poetry and find out more about ‘Unbound’ on my multilingual blog: https://reveriesofasolitarygazelle.com. Alternatively, they can visit my public Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/unbound17/. I also have a twitter account @minabolfek.
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.