For several years, I have been active on the social media platform ‘Tumblr’. I liked the platform because it offered a space for individuals who want to share their thoughts, paintings, music and art in general. When I stumbled upon Noor’s poetry, I really liked it and wanted to share it with a broader audience. Being a women of color myself, it is important to not only be socially active, but I also want to underline the importance of artistic talent and offer a platform for the creative souls among us. That is the reason why I chose to interview her and share her writings with our readers.
Hello, could you introduce yourself?
My name is Noor Shirazie, I am Muslim and I have pakistani roots. I am a creativity enthusiast based in Canada. I’ve lived in numerous countries, but while my location has changed, I’ve always had a strong interest in anything creative, whether it is writing, sketching, playing the piano, or singing.
When did you start writing?
I began writing in 2012 and had no idea it would become such a prominent outlet over the years. It was something to which I turned on a very personal level when I was in college, but when I saw that people were connecting with the pieces and had stories of their own to share, I wrote on open platforms more frequently.
What does it mean for you to write?
It’s catharsis. It’s a way to connect. It’s a way to make sense of what’s going on in your head at your own pace and on your own terms. While it’s important to be able to turn to others for help, it’s equally important for you to take the time to understand what you’re going through as well.
Where do you get your inspiration?
The amazing thing about social media is the way it exposes you to other writers in the community. I have spent years reading work by Pavana Reddy, Amanda Lovelace, Celemtine von Radics, Rupi (of course!), Shelby Leigh, a writer who simply goes by the name Yasmine on Tumblr, but there are also more classic writers such as Rumi, Pablo Neruda, and E.E. Cummings, to name a few. Other major sources of inspiration include music, movies, book excerpts… anything that strikes a chord and makes me think, “Yes, I feel this on a very fundamental level. I could write about this.”
When did you publish your book and how did that go?
I published Into the Wildfire: Mourning Departures in the middle of 2016 and the second installment, Into the Wildfire: Battle Scars, toward the end of the same year. It was an experience I’ll never regret, as it taught me so much about both the technical and emotional efforts needed to self-publish.
It was a wonderful bonding experience with my mom, who is also a writer. She and I worked together to edit and refine the pieces. There were a lot of interesting discussions about some of the topics covered in the books. In a lot of ways, I think the books helped us understand one another better, especially given that we have lived in separate countries for majority of my 20’s.
There were a lot of little frustrations, usually revolving around the technical process of formatting and editing. Sometimes I felt that that took away from the impact of the content, which is why I suppose professional editing is its own role in most cases, separate from the writing component. It paid off, however, to understand every aspect of what’s involved in putting a book together and definitely helped me to appreciate the work other writers have put into self-publishing their work.
Could you share some of your own favorite poems?
“i searched for balance in him,
but all he did was tip the scales.
everything was either
scorching or subzero,
rough or silken,
but that was the thrill
for which my senses hungered.
some things never change.”
“desire has a cruel way
of scorching your fingers
when all you crave
is a little warmth.”
Do you have a message for (Muslim) women of color who want to pursue their artistic ambitions?
Do not be afraid to redefine yourself as a writer, whether that means changing your content, your writing style, your vocabulary, the topics you write about. Social media pushes us into a trap of consistency and having a specific image, a brand, as a writer. Don’t conform. Don’t shape your work to become a carbon copy of whatever is already out there. The beauty of creativity is that you have the ability to express your craft in a way that is unlike that of anyone else. Express yourself for the right reasons, whatever they may be to you.
Where can we read more of your art?
You can find me on Instagram (@shirazien), as well as Tumblr (noorshirazie.tumblr.com). I’ll occasionally post new pieces there, along with revisiting older poems.