Monday, May 20, 2019

BLOG OF THE WEEK ~ AYALA ZARFJIAN


This week, my friends, we are visiting with Ayala Zarfjian, who leads A Sun-Kissed Life, in Florida.  Ayala’s book, Second Chances, came out recently, so we wanted to help her spread the word. Let’s not wait another minute. I am eager to hear about the new book!
                       





Sherry: We last spoke with you in 2017, when you were celebrating the birth of your grandson, Aiden. He must bring your family so much joy!




Ayala and Aiden


Ayala: Aiden brings us light and immeasurable joy. When he walks through the door, I forget whatever it is that I am struggling with in that moment. I love to see things through his eyes. It's magic. 

Sherry: It is magical, to see the world brand new through a child’s eyes. It’s the best!

A little bird told me you have something new to celebrate now. Tell us about your new book, published recently by Golden Dragonfly Press.

Ayala: My book is a collection of poems, new and old. It is a meaningful collection for me, and all the proceeds of the sale of the book are being donated to charity.

Sherry: That is lovely, Ayala. Congratulations on your publication. Let’s take a peek at the video launching your book. It is beautiful.





Sherry: This is such a beautiful poem, and video. Wow.

I remember from our first interview, that you began writing poetry at age eight, and that your father was a poet. I remember, too, you saying “I didn’t choose poetry; poetry chose me.”  It must feel wonderful to hold that book in your hands! Tell us about that feeling, and about the process of putting it together.



Ayala: The process of putting together the book was a thoughtful one and one with many details. For example, the book cover is a photograph that I took one day when I was walking with my son, Daniel. I noticed the root of a tree in a heart shape. My poems are all about family, roots and love, so I found it a perfect choice for my cover.

There were many details, and I was very hands on because it means so much to me. I have to admit that I was beyond excited when I held my book for the first time. It's a wonderful feeling to hold your own book that you poured your soul into. So Sherry, yes, poetry chose me. I was a thoughtful little girl that carried the world on her shoulders. There was always poetry brewing up in my thoughts, no matter what path I traveled on.

Sherry: A journey made with poetry is such a gift! Would you like to share three poems with us today and tell us a little about each?


The city I was born in, 
my mother’s maiden name, 
the street I lived on. 
Questions,
answers that do not warrant hesitation, 
contemplation, 
black and white,
nice and easy. 
But what if I forget one day, 
my first pet’s name, 
my high school boyfriend,
and finding the love of my life. 
What if it slips away, 
like an oar in the river, 
like water through my fingers,
like all the yesterdays 
built by moments of you and me. 
Holding hands, 
speaking with our loud voices
at the spark of anger, 
dancing in the kitchen,
our laughter echoes in our home.
Silent, 
side by side at dawn, 
our feet tangled 
in a mess of love,
what if I forget?


I wrote this poem one day when I answered security questions for a financial institution. I remember choosing questions that I assumed I would not forget. Prior to that day I spoke to someone that was a caregiver to someone with dementia. I was saddened at how this illness robs their patients of their memories.  

The next poem I wrote about my husband and his grandpa to commentate one hundred years since the Armenian genocide. It's important to remember because the genocide is still being denied by Turkey.

On both our sides we share a sense of loss and pride for our families. Mine survived the Holocaust and my husband's grandfather survived the Armenian genocide. He also saved a train of children. At the time, he was a child himself.  

In 1987, Chancellor Helmut Kohl told Israeli President Chaim Herzog that the Nazi extermination of six million Jews will never be purged from history. He said the German people accept responsibility for the Holocaust. The Armenian people are still waiting for Turkey to take responsibility for the Armenian genocide. 1.5 million Armenians were murdered.

This poem is called “One Hundred Years” and it's dedicated to Grandpa Antranik. 


Coal black sky,
awakens repressed memories.
Whispers of angels silenced.
You are not forgotten,
the moon watched 
while humanity looked away,
one hundred years of denial.
Grandpa,
I stood beside you as a boy,
and as a man I carry you in my heart.
Your kind but dark eyes,
pieced my consciousness with
stories of your plight,
living in a cave,
marching in the desert,
eating weeds and plants.
You were a baby boy orphaned,
grief held your hand.
You were too young to remember
your mother's love
your mother's embrace.
The emptiness,
and the sadness lingered.
The oppressors sought to destroy,
they sought deportation,
humiliation,
death.
The oppressors wished
to erase you
and our bloodline.
One hundred years of denial,
echo like whispers,
reverberate from the earth
of those that perished.
You survived
to flourish
you survived 
to tell your story
the darkness always in the shadows
 of each day.
Grandpa,
I remember.
Grandpa,
your words are not forgotten,
I retell my children of those dark days,
of their legacy,
of survival rich with
honor of your life.
Grandpa,
I stood beside you as a child,
as a man I carry you in my heart.


On a lighter note, the next poem is called “Woman”. 


I discovered the crows feet
nestled by my eyes.
I forgave them and accepted
them to be mine.
I love that they exhibit
a piece of my struggle.
Days I squinted in delight,
dark nights when weeping
left me drained and numb.
I questioned the veins in my hands,
pronounced and deep,
then I accepted them
for all the hard labor they had done.
Hands weathered by love given,
days from dawn to dusk,
babies they had washed,
foreheads caressed.
I watched my white strands 
residing in my dark hair. 
I accepted them for their resilience
and beauty.
I challenged my mind to battle the known
and seek the wonder of the unknown.
I challenged my soul to rise up
and embrace the woman
I have become
and love the life I have been given.


This poem is about acceptance of oneself. My women friends, my girl tribe, has always been judgmental of their looks, their choices and getting older. I urge them to accept themselves, to love themselves, to be proud of all that they have achieved as strong women. Some are mothers, partners, sisters, daughters, friends, and they have lifted humanity by being exactly who they were meant to be. 

Sherry: These are wonderful poems. I am especially moved by the one to your husband’s grandfather, the thought of that small orphan crossing the desert, eating weeds and plants. And the pain that such journeys are still going on, in so many places, today. Your poem shows the power of poetry to inform, and to move hearts and minds.

What do you love about poetry, Ayala?

Ayala: Poetry is life. 

Poetry is life


Sherry: “Poetry is life”. I love that! What other interests do you explore when you aren’t writing?




Ayala: I love to spend time with my family. I love to travel, read, meditate, fish. When I travel, I love to explore museums. Art evokes a sense of joy and peace. As a child I spent endless days in museums with my parents.  Museums feel like home to me and being in them gives me a sense of connection to something bigger.

Sherry: Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Ayala: Thank you for your community, thank you for your support. Over the years I have connected with some of you, the connection grew into friendships that I will treasure always.

Sherry: Thank you for this update, Ayala. It is fun watching Aiden grow up in these visits with you (and on facebook!) Congratulations once again on the publication of your book.

Well, my friends, isn't it wonderful to watch our poet friends making their poetic journeys through the years? Do come back and see who we talk to next. I will give you a clue: it is one of our very first members, chatting with us about how to write a poem when you're blocked. I can't wait!


40 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and selection of poems, Ayala and Sherry. Thank you!

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  2. Ayala is just what her blog is called; A sun kissed life! She is a ray of sunshine to the world and her poetry is the same. She has always been a wonderful friend and fellow blogger, and I am so glad I got to read more about her here. Ayala I love your poetry and your grandson is truly adorable! I know myself, what a blessing grandchildren can be. Thank you for another wonderful interview Sherry!

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    1. Added note, I am so going to buy your book. I can't wait to read it!!

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    2. Thank you, Carrie. I truly appreciate you!

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  3. I had to share your video, Ayala, mostly to save it and see it again this week. You have a talent for poetry expanded by compassion. What a pleasure to visit with you today.

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  4. Sure always have a way with words indeed. Seeing the world through a kiddos eyes is always fun too.

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  5. I knew you would all enjoy this feature. Thank you, Ayala, for sharing your work and your thoughts with us. I love what Carrie says about you living a sun-kissed life. Your work does, indeed, reflect your compassion and insight. I always love reading you. Congrats on the book!

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    1. Thank you Sherry for this lovely interview and your continued support.

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  6. What a wonderful feature! Ayala, you have written some strong and serious poetry. I definitely appreciate that you are willing to tackle such serious themes. And - indeed - we do have to accept ourselves as we are as we age - ha - crows feet and all. Smiles. Your grandson has really grown. Best wishes on the publication of your book, Ayala, and thank you always for participation in Poets United. Sherry, you have compiled another gem!

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    1. Thank you Mary for your kind words. Thank you for your support!

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  7. Thank you, Ayala and Mary. I am happy you are pleased.

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  8. A wonderful feature, I have always enjoyed Ayala's blog and her delightful poetry. It's fresh and real.

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  9. I cannot tell you enough how I enjoyed the video Ayala. Congratulations on your book. May many more follow. There is a touch of warmth in all your poems. Thank you Sherry for this wonderful feature.

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    1. Thank you, Sumana. I appreciate your kindness.

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  10. It was truly a pleasure, my friends. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

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  11. I've been enjoying Ayala's writing for quite some time now – along with her warmth and grace. The poems here are all moving, and the video is particularly lovely.

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  12. Congratulations on your book, Ayala. And I enjoyed the video too.
    I am particularly moved by your poem "One Hundred Years". Sometimes it's really hard to comprehend how one nation can systematically try to annihilate another race of humans. I just can't imagine how much pain your husband's grandpa endured in his flight to freedom.

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    1. Thank you kindly. It truly is hard to comprehend. We have to strive to eradicate this condition. Hate is hate and it has no place in our world. It may sound naive but so many lessons are lost on so many. It is devastating.

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  13. I cant fathom man's inhumanity to man either, Lee San. I used to believe that good would triumph, but am rather discouraged these days. Maybe we arent going to make the evolutionary leap.

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    1. i believe good will triumph, eventually, but it certainly is testing our patience.

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  14. Thank you for another fascinating interview, Sherry. I love your work, Ayala, and really relate to its family centric inspiration. I was moved by the impactful, beautifully rendered pieces you've chosen, here. Congratulations on the book. How exciting! Great job on this, Poets!

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  15. Thank you Sherry for a great introduction and wonderful interview

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  16. Congratulations on your book, Ayala. These are lovely poems and the way you have brought your family's history to life and created emotional tributes is so wonderful. One hundred years is a poem that a much, much wider audience definitely needs to read.

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  17. What a wonderful inside look at your process. Thanks for answering these questions and sharing the history behind how this collection developed. xo

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  18. Beautiful poems Ayala...wonderful interview Sherry ...so much to learn from so many people...bkm

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  19. What stunning poem, Ayala. The grandfather one is so haunting and so important.
    You seem like a woman at peace with who she is. . . . Thanks, Sherry for featuring Ayala.

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  20. Three amazing poems and so happy to hear about your new book. Inspiring words and actions...thank you so much Sherry and Ayala.

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