"I am interested in the world in its different manifestations..."
Monday, September 11, 2023

Each year, the Writing University conducts interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home. Today we are talking with Aigerim Tazhi АйгеримТажи, a poet from Kazakhstan.

aigerim head shot

Aigerim Tazhi АйгеримТажи (poet; Kazakhstan) is the author of two volumes of poetry, БОГ-О-СЛОВ[THEO-LOG-IAN] and Бумажнаякожа/Paper-Thin Skin; in 2019 the latter appeared as a bilingual edition from the U.S. publishing house Zephyr Press, supported by an NEA Translation Fellowship. The book was included to the lists of the best books, among them Year’s Most Notable Translations by World Literature Today. Her poems have been widely published in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. and translated into many languages. She was awarded international literary prizes, including Literary Steps Prize, Shabyt, shortlisted for Debut Prize, Voloshin Literary Contest and others. She is the author of several projects at the crossroads of poetry and other forms of art. 


Hello Aigerim!

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

During the residency, I'm going to continue writing poems for my next book of poetry.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine? 

I don't have any specific writing routine for creating poems, because I write only when I feel I have something to say, when I really want to manifest something from my inner world outwards. That's why I have periods when I write a lot and periods of accumulating creative energy. I love travelling, and often the road inspires me to write poetry.  

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure? 

Now I am reading a book for pleasure - a volume with Myths of Native peoples of North and South America recently given to me. I love reading mythology in general, Kazakh, African, Scandinavian, and other peoples' mythology. There is always a lot of wisdom in ancient legends and myths, through them you can get acquainted with different views on the structure of the world and see something in common in them. I especially like the fact that myths are also full of magic and poetry. 

 4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and/or your work?

My last poetry volume Paper-Thin Skin/Бумажная кожа was published in the USA by Zephyr Press as a bilingual edition after winning a Fellowship from the US National Endowment for the Arts, so you can find it in US bookstores and libraries. By the way, the book appeared among Year’s Most Notable Translations by World Literature Today, Year's Top Books by Meduza, etc. My poems have been translated into many languages, among them English, French, Dutch, German, Polish, Armenian and others. Thus, probably you can read my poems translated into your native language.  

I am interested in the world in its different manifestations, so I like to discover something new. I travel a lot, explore different cultures, spiritual practices, psychology, play the ancient musical instrument kobyz, and I think that this interest to the world in all its diversity is reflected in my poems. 

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home? 

In my opinion, my motherland Kazakhstan is an amazing country. Not many people know that Kazakhstan is the home of apples and tulips. Imagine, all the apples of the world and all the tulips! You can still find wild apple trees in the mountains and wild tulips in the steppes. My ancestors were Nomads, who moved their yurts, a kind of transportable dwelling, from place to place following the seasons of nature.  Now among the present generation there are also many Nomads, but as they are now called Digital Nomads.  




Thank you Aigerim!