December Creator of the Month: Zehra
We are so excited to introduce our December Creator of the Month! Every month, we will be spotlighting creators from the QM student community across different art forms.
Our December Creator of the Month is Zehra: poet, student and mental health advocate.
Scroll down to check out our interview with Zehra and to read more about her and her work!
Hello there, my name is Zehra and I’m an 18-year-old writer living the life I’ve always dreamt of in London. I like to describe myself as an empath, and that’s what a lot of the things you’ll get to know about me lead back to.
My poetry is a reflection of my emotional experiences, written with the intention that it allows my readers to tune in to their feelings and understand themselves on a deeper level. Characteristically, I write in the first person, my favourite themes being the mind-body relationship, nature & the self, as well as love & loss.
I dabble with prose every now and then, explore songwriting occasionally and have recently started writing a column too.
Some other things I’m passionate about are mental health advocacy, reading and taking pictures of aesthetically pleasing things (the last one is my favourite).
Congratulations on being chosen as Creator of the Month! In your bio you describe yourself as an empath, is this what led you to your favourite themes of ‘the mind-body relationship, nature & the self, as well as love & loss’?
Thank you so much for honouring me with the ‘Creator of the Month’ title! I am truly over the moon and couldn’t be more grateful to the PEACH team <3
My inclination to these themes stems from the fact that the experiences that make me human are universal and the idea that through my creative expression I can put not only mine but also my readers’ feelings into words. The most prominent trait of an empath is their ability to understand others’ emotions as if they were their own, so definitely, me being an empath is closely related to my themes of choice.
You mentioned you have always dreamt of living in London, now that you are finally here – do you feel your recent work has been inspired or influenced by this city?
While I have always believed that city life is brimming with inspiration, I never got around to writing about it, but ever since I first set foot in London, all I can think about is extracting meaningful metaphors from the sights it boasts and using imagery to bring its scenic landscapes to life in my poetry. Lots of beautiful pieces are currently in the works and I can hardly wait to get some of them published in PEACH’s upcoming print editions!
It’s so exciting you have been exploring prose and songwriting as well! Are there any other artistic mediums you find yourself being drawn towards or that you would like to explore in the future?
I’m no photographer but I do love to take pictures of everything that has aesthetic appeal, and more often than not they aren’t half bad 😉 It’s a really calming exercise and has made me more mindful and observant. In keeping with that, I’ve been having a lot of fun making mini-vlogs lately and the entire process is strangely cathartic. I like to sing and hope to practise & get better at it this year, though I’m not completely new to it since I used to be a music student in high school.
You mention you write with the intention to allow your ‘readers to tune in to their feelings and understand themselves on a deeper level’. How important is it to you that your audiences resonate with the work you have written?
As I said earlier, I aim to make people feel loved and represented by means of my poetry. I try to be as vulnerable and candid as I can while writing, and that is because it’s very important to me that my audience identifies with whatever I produce. Equally important, however, is that it brings me peace & happiness and relieves my pain & anxiety, for it is my outlet, my refuge, my safest space.
You also mentioned you enjoy reading, are there any books or poetry collections you find yourself consistently reaching for when looking for inspiration for your creative endeavours?
My taste in poetry is a bit old-fashioned and I take inspiration from poets the likes of William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath and William Ernest Henley. The lyrical complexity of their creations awes me and I’d consider myself successful if one day my own work receives even a fraction of the love and acclaim that theirs did.
I’m not a huge fan of the kind of poetry that is popular nowadays, Instapoetry as they call it. The two modern poets I actually like are Caroline Kaufman and Noor Unnahar, the authors of Light Filters In and Yesterday I Was the Moon respectively, and I highly recommend you check them out!
when my mother named me ‘zehra’,
perhaps she had envisioned
a ‘flower’ quite docile:
a peony, curtsying meekly,
or a daisy’s innocent smile;
a pink rose, with its gentle blush
or jasmine, the most fragile
yet skipping through the groves of change,
oh look, how i have come to be
a lotus, poised with graceful might;
a sunflower, accomplice
to the sun,thriving in its light –
rich nectar pouring from my soul
and onto the words that i write
with love and power, through art and pain,
when i sink to the earth, i rise again.
i have a dainty velvet heart,
a fitting muse for Renoir’s art;
its gem-encrusted flesh mirrors
the fabric of the universe.
with fond care, like Minerva’s kin,
i’ve sewn into its scarlet skin,
pearls filled with love unrestrained,
love that just can’t be contained.
it gushes out, it pours, it streams,
as all the starry gemstones gleam;
when pain tugs at the seams so fine,
of this dainty velvet heart of mine.
for even in the face of plight,
as the world unsheathes its blight,
come what may, as long as i live,
love is all i will have, to give.
*Renoir – A renowned French artist
*Minerva – The Roman goddess of handicrafts
If you’re someone who feels everything deeply and loves without restraint, this poem is yours. I see myself in you. You will never be ‘too much’.
Embrace your sensitivity, don’t ever change.