Interview With Shira Erlichman

 We plucked cut-out words out of a bucket and rearranged them on a page. I still remember the joyous shock of pulling unfamiliar words out and seeing them sitting next to each other. I loved how words could clunk and bang against each other. How some combinations made sound crash, and others, blossom.

What advice do you wish you had gotten as a teen?

       The hair under your bellybutton doesn't make you less of a girl. Your yellow teeth don't make you less radiant. Your fear, your questions, your anger - none of these make you less worthy of love. They only make you more dynamic, curious, and alive.  

Tell us about a time when you were brave, or bravery was required of you, or you saw someone else being brave.

       For the last three summers I've volunteered at a meditation retreat for teenagers in Massachusetts. In the middle of their summer vacation hundred teens sit down to meditate, face their minds, and witness whoever they are in that moment. To sit in the meditation hall with them is inspiring. They could be at soccer camp, or just chilling at home on the couch, but instead they commit a week of their summer to unflinchingly, compassionately, boldly facing themselves and holding space for others as they do the same. That takes courage. It blows me away how openhearted, kind, and vulnerable they allow themselves to be.

 

How do you start a poem? Give us a window into your process.

       When you look through the window you'll see a wide, wild field of fresh snow. It is peaceful, a place where I am safe and anything is possible. I relish in the solitude, safety and quiet. Then I wait. I hear a silent voice ask: What needs to be written? Then a brick falls from the sky. I put it into place. Then another brick falls, fast, thick, clunk. I put it into place. Then smoke rains. My mother runs by, laughing (or is she crying?), a star falls to my feet. From inside its belly a child climbs out. In the child's palm is a pomegranate (or is it a book?). The juice is running down her chin (or is it words?). "Hello." She speaks! "My name is Adventure." She's awesome! With the hundreds and hundreds of fallen bricks we build a rusty red igloo. We are sweating, glowing with effort and wonder. "What happens next?" I ask her. "Whatever happens next!" She answers.

What is your motto for getting through the tough times?

 

       Life is tough, but so am I.