Jessie Knoles interviews Talin Tahajian

How long have you been writing for? Do you have a specific writing process?

I’ve been writing for a while, but writing seriously for less than a while—I’m not sure what initially drew me to poetry. I think I was just kind of struck by this idea that nearly everything that exists is poetry. I’m really not sure how else to say it. And I do think that’s true. On some distant level, everything can be compared to everything else, and we can understand things in so many different combinations of images. You just have to go for it. Poetic language gives us access to entirely new realms of thought. Anything can seem too big or too small for poetry, but few things are. I like that it can be confessional and systematic and quiet and loud all at once. And I think I was drawn to that sense of belonging to a history or a community, both horizontally & vertically.

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Why do you think writing poetry is important (in the 21st century or otherwise)?

The 21st century is about networks, grids, communication, & connections, like the internet, space travel, problem-solving. And poetry is the same. Poetry is one of the most relevant and necessary things on this planet. That sounds like hyperbole but I don’t think it is. The fact is that poetry’s function and place in society have been debated for hundreds of years & this will continue for a long time. But these conversations about irrelevance also prove relevance. We’re still discussing it, it’s still here, people speak in poetry & poetry exists everywhere. Cicero said that the poet “is a very close kinsman to the orator.” And won’t we always be talking?

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Who are your favorite authors? Who are your favorite twitter accounts?

Oh my god, I’ve not got favorite authors, I think. Or it’s too hard to say. I do rotate through favorite poems, but in practice, it’s always Oppen’s “The Forms of Love.” Then it’s Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s “Song.” That’s all it takes. To where it would have wet our feet / Had it been water. I mean, come on.

And actually, I take that first bit back—if I were to name a favorite author it would almost certainly be Mary Ruefle. Also, Anne Carson. What geniuses, seriously & madly.

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You grew up in the US but go to university in England–how do either of these two places affect your writing?

I love England but I think it stunts me a bit, poetically. Or maybe it doesn’t—I don’t know. This term, I’ve written more than I usually do here, but there’s been a lot happening. You know how it goes. In general, I’m all about place and locality and how it affects your work—anyone’s work will be different whether they’re in a city or a field, even if they don’t realize it. Poetic echoes exist in the life-images around you and those turn into poetry because our strange brains consume them and spit them back up in odd and amazing ways.

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What do you think defines your writing? Does your upcoming chapbook have a theme of any kind?

I’m not sure what defines my writing. I know it shape-shifts a bit. There’s a lot of city and a lot of text-body. Recently, Denise Duhamel’s “Artistic Statement” struck a chord with me: “I am interested in bodies seen and not seen (bikinis, muumuus, the dead and not-yet-born), poems written and yet-to-be-written. Holy ghost poems that cannot be read but only felt.”


I don’t really have many details about the chapbook–only that it’s (called The smallest thing on Earth) is going to be out in winter/spring 2017 from Bloom Books, an imprint of Jellyfish Magazine:

Talin Tahajian grew up near Boston. Her poetry has recently appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Indiana Review, Passages North, Best New Poets 2014, Sixth Finch, Birdfeast, and Columbia Poetry Review. She edits poetry for the Adroit Journal, and is currently a student at the University of Cambridge, where she studies English literature.