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This interview is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

Asking Radmila Lazic James Sutherland-Smith

1. When did you first start writing poems?

In my teens, as most girls do. Those were stereotypical poems about love, nature, and things like that. I wasn't particularly talented. That is why I like to say that a special gift isn't bestowed on us by God Almighty, but by another God called Hard Work. I was my own creator.

2. When did you first feel that you'd written a poem you could bear other people reading one of your poems?

It seems to me that people used to be immune to my poems. And with due reason, probably. Nowadays I know when they are no longer immune. However, the readers' reactions that feed our ego can lead us astray, and slow us down, and lull us to sleep. I value the self-feeling of the poem much more, that is the existing consciousness that I have succeeded in expressing my true feelings and thoughts. Of course it is ideal when that self-feeling of the poem matches the readers' response. And when I say readers, I don't mean the critics. I mean true poetry lovers, which critics are usually not.

3. Who were your first models as poets?

Most of us have been through the 'chickenpox' of symbolism, surrealism and God knows what else. Until you discover your own expression you suffer numerous influences, and many years pass you by. It was a huge surprise to many ...


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