Portrait of the Artist is a new feature where I focus on artists from around the country who are doing interesting things deserving of your attention. This week it’s Sasha Terfous.
Emerging from the arts community in the Sunny South-East, Ireland, Sasha Terfous is now one of Ireland’s important figures in the spoken word community. With her knowledge, eloquence and passion for creative expression, Sasha aims to narrate life’s experiences and has been known to both stun and silence readers and audience members.
Tell us about your background.
I began writing in my early adolescence as it was something that always fascinated me. Through that, I realized how therapeutic and expressive it was. By the time I was eighteen my writing had evolved to story writing, novella writing, spoken word, poetry and screen plays. Although little of that work has been debuted, I needed to expose myself to those genres to really grow as an artist. Since then I have had the honour of performing on the stages of RTE, All Together Now, Electric Picnic, RedBull, The Lir Theatre with the Dublin Fringe Festival, and many more. I’ve also performed internationally and have commissioned pieces for the likes of JWT Folk and Accenture. I guest speak regularly at writing workshops and I have worked on an individual basis with amateur poets looking to hone their craft.
Tell us about your work.
I use my work as a sort of activism. To bring attention to the voices that should be heard or issues that should be addressed. The one thing I have also promised myself, however, is that I will never overshadow someone else’s voice with my own. I will never speak on behalf of someone’s experiences using my own words. If I am going to write about a topic unfamiliar to myself, which is rare, I will do as much research as possible. If another individual is involved, I will interview them as much as I can and use their phrases and words to create the piece, and of course, credit them. Authenticity is really important to me and my work as I would be doing myself, the audience, and the intention of poetry a disservice otherwise.
Who are your influences and why?
I am greatly influenced by Maya Angelou. She is such a beautiful writer who harnessed the ability to empower and liberate through so many mediums. I really admire the strength and poise she showcases through her world. It’s incredible to me. I am also deeply influenced by Sylvia Plath. They are very contrasting poets but Plath’s use of imagery is utterly astounding. She paints such a vivid visual picture using her words that it just seems to stick with you mentally. Plath also plays with dark topics a lot, and she really delves into the human psyche with her work. She talks about the taboo and the grotesque, and it’s exciting to see a poet of her time do so.
Are there specific themes/issues you try to address in your work?
I find I often explore human experiences through my poetry. It’s interesting to dissect the theme of identity and what that means to the individual. Especially how it affects their life and their own experiences, or vice versa. Descriptive poetry is probably my favourite. There’s a story in every word chosen, and it’s fascinating how a simple scene within a verse can say much about the poem or its meaning. I suppose in all, I just want to ask a question with my work.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
Be raw. No matter what you do, make sure you are doing it as your true authentic self. Whether you are writing, or entering a business meeting, or even performing on stage, it is so important to be raw. People want to hear your voice and work with you. Nobody likes a gimmick.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on a lot of projects at the moment but unfortunately I need to keep them under wraps. What I can say for now though is, I’m really excited for what this year has to offer, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.