|Béke bent, béke kint. | peacerevolution|
Agnijával 2012-ben ismerkedtem meg Barcelonában, az IEMED és az Anna Lindh Foundation éves Sea of Words nemzetközi novellapályázatán. Már akkor izgalmasnak tartottam, egyenesen Kínából érkezett, hogy csatlakozzon a döntősökhöz. Akkor azt hittem, ez csak egyszeri érdekes fordulat az életében, de mint később kiderült, kevés olyan pontja van a világnak, ahol még nem járt. Bevallom, kicsit irigykedtem, hogy mindig megtalálják őt a lehetőségek, elutazzon a legszemkápráztatóbb helyekre, de időbe telt, mire megértettem az igazán lényeges szempontot. Bármerre járt, bármit csinált, végig önmagát követe, és az utazás csak eszköz ehhez.
A kérdéseimre adott válaszait meghagytam angolul, hogy azok árnyalatait megőrizzem. A bejegyzésben szereplő képek tőle származnak, és a kérdéssor végén megtalálhatjátok publikációit, eddig elért eredményeit, kezdeményezéseit.
Name: Agnija Kazuša
1.What could we know about you?
I am a graduate of Communication Science with a specialization in journalism. However, after working for some time in the field and living for some time in Egypt, I realized I want to explore the power of a story in more depth and pursue a creative writing career. Apart from that I have been active member of several youth organizations in Europe implementing and attending projects about multiculturalism, intercultural dialogue, democracy, active citizenship, media and others. I am currently a team member of menac (Middle East and North Africa Committee) that promotes dialogue and understanding within the region of Euro-Mediterranean. Moreover, this year in February I joined the world peace initiative "Peace Revolution" where after completing a Fellowship in Thailand I became a Peace Agent and later - a Peace Coach. This new position and responsibility allows me to help other people find their inner peace through a practice of meditation and mindfulness. Thereby, my nowadays daily life consists of three pillars: creative writing &storytelling, youth work, meditation. They vary depending on which country I am and what becomes a priority at a certain time. For instance, if I am in India, I would indulge myself in different daily activities. If I am at a training course in Portugal, I will be fully engaged there.
2. How long are you writing?
I seriously started thinking about creative writing, like short story and novel writing, when I returned from Egypt in November, 2010. Then I had a very powerful story to share, and I thought my mind would explode if I don't start writing. This is how I wrote my first novel in 8 months, and later started missing the feeling of writing every day. So, I started looking for stories and writing them down until I realized I need more knowledge in creative writing and that it is different from journalism. So, I took a Creative Writing course for 2 years at a Literary Academy in Latvia.
3. What genre do you like?
I usually write short stories and novels based on real life events, so it's kind of realistic picture that I want to portray.
4. What writing means to you?
Writing gives me a different kind of world, yet it reflects the same world we are living. It means playing with words, scenarios, characters, places, emotions and yet making a sense of it at the end by giving a message, something I want to tell to others, but in a creative, or beautiful, or peculiar way. I like if I can fully live in my own world, feel sorry along with my characters, laugh with them, cry with them and actually learn from them. Creative writing and putting situations, places and characters on a paper has taught me a lot about my own life. Moreover, the more I write, the more it becomes a need to see stories in our life that I could make even brighter in writing and highlight the beauty of some daily routines that usually go unnoticed, like waiting for a bus in a village in Nepal - when I see and feel it, the story comes to me itself. Last but not least, writing allows me to see interconnectivity among people, objects, things, nature, colours, situations, words, everything in our life, in this universe.
5. Have you published your works?
Some of my short stories have been published by IEMed. One of my stories have been published on Satori.lv (well known Latvian internet journal, dedicated to literature). My first novel "Trīs tases Ēģiptes (in English "Three Cups of Egypt") was published chapter by chapter on women's portal "Sievietes Pasaule" (in English "Women's World"), as well as on my personal platform.
6. Have you ever won some writing competitions?
Not really, but I have been selected as a finalist at IEMed "A Sea of Words" short story contest in 2012, 2013 and 2014. My short stories were among 15 finalists selected from 43 countries. I have also been selected as Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow for a fellowship in cultural journalism in Colombia, in January 2013.
7. Do you working on something now?
I am working on documenting my experiences in India. Most probably it will be a memoir. From time to time, I write short stories on my blog.
8. Do you visit or be a part a writing club/group?
I used to attend Literary Academy from February, 2013 to December, 2014. That's when I had more interaction with other writers. Currently I am not taking part in any writing club/group.
9. Do you keep contact with another authors?
Yes, from time to time.
10. What success mean to you?
It means that the idea/dream I have cherished, have come true. This is how I live: from a dream to dream, day by day getting closer to making dreams come true, no matter if they are small or big. I don't think success is necessarily a good word in terms of stability. It somehow reminds me of a peak, of a short moment that is blissful, but fragile at the same time - since from a peak you may fall down and start climbing the mountain again. I rather focus on the process of making ideas/dreams come true, of every step I make towards the goal. I try to enjoy it and feel contentment and happiness about every minute of my life. That is a success in the way of living.
11. Where do you find inspirations?
From life. There are stories everywhere - we just need to look around and see interconnectivity of things.
12. Do you participate in writing contest?
I do. Currently my novel "Bruno" has been submitted for the national writing contest "The National Bestseller" organized by the largest publishing house in Latvia, Zvaigzne ABC.
13. What is your plan with writing?
I would like to publish my two novels: "Three Cups of Egypt" in English and "Bruno" in Latvian. I would like to experience a real paper-copy publishing. In general, my plan is to document my life, to look at myself from a detached viewpoint and find stories in my experiences.
14. What wokes up your fantasy?
Hmm, I don't really know. I guess, contemplating the thought, daydreaming, pondering over possibilities of life situations and people, observing.
15. I see, you travel a lot. How can you find the opportunity to discover the other side of the world?
I mostly travel thanks to my involvement in youth activities. That allows me to attend training courses and youth exchanges mostly in Europe. In fact, each travel comes with a different cause/reason. I rarely travel for the sake of travelling. None of my destinations have come out of blue. When I was in Thailand, I attended the meditation retreat with "Peace Revolution". When I was in India, I was attending literature festival and collecting materials & experiences for my novel. When I travel to places in Europe, it's mostly related to youth work activities.
16. What experiences do you find there?
It depends on the purpose of the journey. But whatever the case, I try to feel the place with its small details, I try to see stories. I like to observe relationships between people, their way of doing things and living life. Those are experiences that I want to portray in my stories.
17. What did you learn from people there?
I learn a lot. It's hard to distinguish one lesson from another. But experiences with meeting new people and experiencing life with them are always enriching. In fact, since I started travelling at the age of 12, I have absorbed a lot of otherness on me, and hence become more open-minded, flexible, sensitive, empathetic, global, aware of different cultures, norms and habits and more understanding towards any kind of difference - religious, cultural, sexual and other.
18. What motivates you to travel again and again?
It has nowadays become my lifestyle, a pattern which I have started and it's hard to quit, because one opportunity leads to another, then another, and this is how everything is linked. I don't even focus that much on travelling, but rather than being in a certain place with certain situation and living a certain life experience. It just happens that this being makes me roam around the world depending on where I am needed each time and what mission I have to take on.
19. What was you best and the saddest memory in abroad?
I will take a very recent one. In January 2015 I left for India and faced lots of challenges just as I arrived there. I only had 4000 rupees (around 55 euro) with me, my knee was paining (due to a recent injury that had not been fixed) and I was afraid I would need to do a surgery since many people scared me that knees are very risky. I was kind of lost in life, because I had completed my writing course and did not know what to do next and how to generally proceed in my life. So, I was walking on a busy, noisy street in Mumbai with these problems on my mind and I thought I would not even mind if I am hit by a car or rickshaw driver. Then suddenly a rickshaw stopped, and a man came out of it. He was a Bollywood choreographer and offered me to become a cheerleader in Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) matches all over India. It was an incredible experience that totally changed my life and solved my financial situation and general mood, but not so much about getting an opportunity to cheerlead (something i had never done before), travel from city to city and stay in fancy hotels, but the fact how this opportunity came to me and changed my life.
The most amazing experience, however, was during my Fellowship with "Peace Revolution" in Mooktawan meditation sanctuary in Thailand. It was a meditation retreat I attended, and it was absolutely mind-blowing. It was like attending a School of Life. That relaxing atmosphere in the pure and beautiful nature, our teaching monks and day-to-day experiences with diligent practice of meditation and mindful living, interactions with fellows from all corners of the world made me think about the meaning of myself and the meaning of my life and most importantly - it made me embrace, like never before, the fact that I am alive, I am here and now and all I should feel is immense love and gratitude towards every human being, everything that IS. These nearly three weeks in Thailand changed my perception of life so that I don't really see things anymore positive and negative. It's our mind that functions like that. I perceive everything that comes as life experience. These experiences and situations come and go, but the joy of being and breathing stays within us. And I want to acknowledge it every day though a practice of mediation and through spreading loving kindness to others.
Agnija, thank you for answering, I really enjoyed it, and learned much from it. I wish you a joyful and happy life!
1) 2014 January: a short story Mana interneta dzīve (My Internet Life) published on Latvian internet journal, dedicated to literature, Satori.lv
2) 2014 April: a short story Sour Oranges published by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) in A Sea of Words 2013 finalists' short story collection
4) 2013 March: a short story Blue Eyes' Story published by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) in A Sea of Words 2012 finalists' short story collection
5) 2013 January: a short story Nerakstītā vienošanās (Unwritten Agreement) published on a women's portal Sievietes Pasaule
6) 2013 September: translation (from English to Latvian) of a children's story Invisible (Neredzamais in Latvian) written by Marijn Brouckaert
7) 2013 September : a short story The Most Beautiful Anklet published on a short story publisher YourStoryClub.com
8) 2012 September: a short story The Verdict of Bikini published on a short story publisher YourStoryClub.com
9) 2012 July – 2013 April: an online publication (three times a week) of the novel Trīs Tases Ēģiptes (Three Cups of Egypt) published on internet platforms tristasesegiptes.wordpress.com and a women's portal Sievietes Pasaule Literature section
10) 2015 April: a short story My Internet Life published by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) in A Sea of Words 2014 finalists' short story collection
2012; 2013; 2014: Winner of A Sea of Words short story contest organized by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed); each year I have participated with a different story: Blue Eyes' Story, Sour Oranges and My Internet Life. (200-300 stories each year; 15 winners)
2013 January: Winner of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez fellowship in cultural journalism; awarded with a two-week long intensive writing practise and a reporting opportunity on Cartagena music festival and Barranquilla carnival in Colombia; the course was led by such masters as Hector Feliciano, Jonathan Levi, Anne Midgette and others (465 applications; 20 winners)
2004 April: Winner of the school magazine contest 5K with the reportage 12th Graders: what next?; the contest was organized by the national daily newspaper Diena, and winners were awarded with a study visit to Bonnier Media House in Stockholm, Sweden (109 applications in the category Reportage; 1 winner)
December 2014: a short story Mazmājiņas (Toilets) performed in a prose evening at Mansards creative space – Riga, Latvia
August 2014: several short stories about India performed during the event Adventurous India: a narrative by a European at the cultural space Lamakaan – Hyderabad, India
July 2014: a short story SUPERGIRL performed on the Literary Stage at Positivus Music Festival; the largest music and arts festival in the Baltic States – Salacgrīva, Latvia
May 2014: excerpts from a short story Skābie apelsīni (Sour Oranges) performed in the new and emerging writers' series Waiting for Spring – Riga, Latvia
December 2013: a short story Kā es tevi mīlu (How I love you) performed at the Latvian National Prose Festival – Riga, Latvia
August 2013: a poem Arrival in Amman performed in the final ceremony of the training course Baltic-MEDA Bridges for Dialogue organized by the Royal Institute for Inter-faith Studies (RIIFS) – Amman, Jordan