How do you define poetry? Just as the meaning of a poem is open to interpretation, so is the definition of poetry. For some it’s obviously the written pieces, whether in rhyme or not. There is spoken poetry. And there is also wordless poetry – the poetic visual arts: paintings and photography capturing the emotions and telling tales that speak straight to the heart. Azalia Suhaimi, a poet, a photographer, a writer and an altogether very creative person combines words and images to create a different kind of poetry – photopoetry. Whenever I see her pieces published on her blog and Facebook page, I am deeply moved and my spirits are lifted, because the photopoetry of Azalia Suhaimi captures the beauty of the world, reminding us of the multitude of blessings that Allah (SWT) has bestowed on us. Recently I spoke to Azalia about her art, her work and her new role as a mother.
Klaudia Khan: How do you create your photopoetry? Do the lines come first or the images?
Azalia Suhaimi: I usually write first. I write from the heart and I have these moments where I feel so deeply over something and these words just come flowing from my heart in the form of poetry. And then I go over the stock of photos I’ve taken and try to look for one that best suits the poetry. I usually create tons of photography during my travels, but I don’t publish them online all at once. I’ve got them all saved in a private album, and I wait to publish the photos one by one as and when I write a new poem.
K.K.: Do you go on inspiration hunting trips or do you carry the camera with you at all times to catch the moment?
A.S.: Most of my photography works are actually created by an iPhone, so I have it with me at all times everywhere. I believe that there is always something beautiful even in what seems like an ordinary moment. We just need to look at it differently. Also, I travel a lot (or rather I used to, right before I had a baby) and bring my other bigger camera with me for those travelling gigs. I love travelling and photography so much that I would usually bring home with me at least a 1,000 photos from a journey!
K.K.: What does creativity mean to you?
A.S.: I think we each have our own unique sense of creativity, we just have to truly be ourselves and listen to our hearts and then, being creative happens when we express that. Listen, look and then express with our hearts.
K.K.: What role does art play in your life?
A.S.: Each time I feel down, I think of new artsy ideas to play around with and then I feel better again. That’s the big role that art plays in my life.
K.K.: Seyyed Hossein Nasr once said that living in harmony with nature’s beauty is an essential dimension of life; and your photopoetry reminds me of this, because you capture the beauty of everyday, the grace of ordinary things and places, making them look special. Do you think that photography and other art help us to appreciate the beauty of the world better?
A.S.: I believe that artists are all sensitive creatures. We’re a little more sensitive to the things around us, we feel a little more deeply and always have something to express. This is why we tend to appreciate and notice the beauty of nature even in what may seem as everyday, ordinary things. We tend to see and feel a little more deeply the beauty that Allah (SWT) has gifted us.
Art and photography may become tools to help one appreciate the beauty of the world better, but I believe it all comes back to the heart. If one focuses, say, merely on the technical aspects of photography or the functions of a camera, one may continue playing with lighting in a photography studio and nothing more. To truly appreciate and notice the beauty of the world, we just have to see with our hearts.
K.K.: How does a new mummy find time to write, take pictures, draw and be creative? Has the birth of your baby been an inspiration for your creative work, or did it make you slow down?
A.S.: I usually require being alone and having time for deep thinking when I write poetry. So these days, in between work, caring for a baby and sleep deprivation, that quiet alone time is scarce. Even if I do get a bit of it in between, I’d be too sleep-deprived to write anything more complex than my own name. So, having a baby certainly has slowed me down in the poetry department. But that doesn’t stop me from still immersing myself in art. In fact, I needed it in the earlier days of hormonal imbalance right after the birth of my baby to avoid myself from delving deeper into the postpartum blues. I do a lot of doodling and creative photography of my baby this time around. And when my baby started on solids, I began making an art of sorts of the meal arrangements I created for her. And then, of course, there is still my photography of nature and the beauty around us. I take this as an opportunity to still pause and reflect at the beauty Allah (SWT) has gifted us, while introducing them to my baby.
K.K.: What are your dreams/plans for the future? Those related to art and others…
A.S.: Once I’m settled down in my new role as a mother, I’d certainly love to continue with creating my own designed stationery and cute gifts, and then sell them. I also hope to continue with the quest to publish my photopoetry book. With my daughter as an inspiration, my artsy projects in the future may centre on children. Above all, I’d love to always be able to touch people’s hearts, one photopoetry at a time.
You can explore Azalia’s creations on www.azaliasuhaimi.com