Hedy Habra has authored two poetry collections, Under Brushstrokes, finalist for the USA Best Book Award and the International Book Award, and Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the USA Best Book Award; and a story collection, Flying Carpets. She was a six-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her work appears in Cimarron Review, Bitter Oleander, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, Nimrod, Poet Lore, World Literature Today, and Verse Daily. Her website is hedyhabra.com.
Jon Riccio: The many gorgeous ekphrastic passages from Under Brushstrokes have me rethinking poetry’s relationship to visual art. One of my favorites is “The bride and groom listen all night long/ to the blue notes cascading over the red-tiled roof” (“Under the Crescent Moon”). What’s your definition of writerly beauty?
Hedy Habra: The concept of beauty is complex and evades specific definitions. Some artworks may lack harmony but will trigger deep aesthetic emotions in the viewer. In the same vein, a poem may not offer a harmonious, or coherent image, but should incite readers to appropriate it and reconstruct the inter-artistic dialogue in search for meaning.
I use the image as a point of departure for an oneiric or surreal recreation departing from the original. It is at times an attempt at transforming a two-dimensional representation into a three-dimensional, almost cinematic rendition that involves all five senses. I also aim at offering an imagined version of what might have happened before or after the portrayed scene, oftentimes from the point of view of one of the characters in the paintings.