An Interview with Rakhshan Rizwan

Can you discuss the origin of your poem "Europe"? 

"Europe" was inspired by Mezquita Cordoba's tourist pamphlet. It argued that the historical mosque was always a church because it was built on a Visigothic structure. The defensiveness of tourist sites in Europe, in my opinion, mimics the defensiveness of Europe as a continent, and as an idea. Europe as a discursive site has always been culturally and historically entangled with other regions and geographies beyond it, so I find this defensiveness quite peculiar. My poem addresses that defensiveness and literally and figuratively excavates the idea of Europe.

Can you describe your writing process? 

.An idea for a poem can strike at any time. I make sure I always have a piece of paper to jot it down. Having a child is the greatest antidote to writer's block. When I have free time, I know I have to just write, write and write. In other words, not having the choice to procrastinate is a wonderful thing.