Ava Koohbor on an Allergy to the Word Success

Ava Koohbor on an Allergy to the Word Success

An interview with Ava Koohbor, from The Write Stuff series:

Ava Koohbor is a native Farsi speaker, poet and visual artist who now lives in San Francisco. During the last couple of years, many of her poems have appeared in various publications such as Streetnotes AMERARCANA, Eleven Eleven, Dusie…. Her chapbook, Triangle Squared, has been published by Bootstrap Press. She appreciates whatever art offers to her in any and all forms. She believes that each artist is a medium to transfer the world of possibilities to what is.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?

I’ve always had a problem with this kind of question, because I know this is out of polite-ness, out of social bullshit, to start a conversation… I try to answer it based on what I feel at the moment… It’s good that these days, you can answer, “Google it!”….but if you really want to know who I am, then let’s shake hands…why does it matter what I DO?!!

If someone said I want to do what do you do, what advice would you have for them?

Attempt to be the best version of yourself.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

Unfortunately, I have an allergy to the word “Success”, because it’s usually measured by external values. I believe in “inner growth”, for example, at this stage of my life I feel that I’m clearer about who I am, what I want, and am more focused compared to when I was younger. Success is when you look at your work from outside in, and growth is when you look at your work from inside out. When you are successful, you are afraid of losing it, but when you feel like growing you feel strong and secure. Sometimes successful people are those who know how to manipulate the masses.

What’s wrong with society today?

Obsession with the “I”, obsession with “Happiness”, obsession with “Perfection”, obsession with “Design”, “Self-help” books, Obsession with “Management skills”, obsession with “Awards”, or“Achieving Goals”. Too many powerful maniacs in this world; too much systematic thinking, in general.

How many times do you fall in love each day?

I think being compassionate is more important than falling in love. I feel compassionate every time I see a homeless person on the street, I feel compassionate every time I see people fleeing from their own countries because of the stupid war, I feel compassionate every time I see people suffering under repressive government, I feel compassionate every time I see an injustice in a judiciary system. We more need compassion in order to reform the wrong-doings than falling in love, as an old saying told us, “Love is blind.”

What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?

A friendly relationship between The United States and Iran, so, every day when I listen to the news I don’t feel that my heart is tearing apart.

What is art? Is it necessary? Why?

If you are an artist or art lover, it’s necessary, but if you are not, it’s not. If you are a true artist, you cannot live otherwise; it’s not a choice. The artist is somebody who is trying to challenge materials around herself, in order to understand the world around herself better. This material can be words, colors, sound, science, or any other ways of thinking/living. Different people have different ways to relate to life. I think the role of the artist is questioning accepted forms, exploring new ideas and not being afraid to create something that has not been created before; she’s a problem solver in a creative way. Throughout art history many artists have been recognized years after their death. Why? Because a true artist can see ahead of her time; she is a visionary, a seer.

Is being true to yourself necessary? Yes. There are many people in this world who don’t have the luxury to dedicate their lives to art, their challenge is to survive a day to day life, are they missing something? No.

What are you working on right now?

I have a collection of poems in Farsi and don’t have any interest in publishing them. Though, I have a Farsi typewriter that my Mom gave me. I want to type my poems on metal sheets, and hang them from the wall. A book published on the wall for public view. While typing them I want to record the typewriter’s sound and then modulate the sound with my modular synth. The idea is yet in its initial formation, it usually modifies during the process. And I just started to experiment with modular synth and I need to learn a lot about how to layer sounds.

If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?

Besides the lower rents that is everybody’s wish who is not a landlord, the other thing I would like to change is out of my control, it is a warmer summer.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?

Seeing Donald Trump in the White House!

What are some of your favorite smells?

Jasmine flowers at night, peeling orange in the snow, Saffron spice while cooking.

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