Des Moines, Iowa;
a first-generation immigrant from Azerbaijan
"I was about forty-five when I wrote my first children’s story, The Moon Child. With that, I discovered that I want to be a writer. Writing, telling stories make me feel alive."
Tell us about yourself and your history:
"I was born and raised in a small town, called Turkan, on the suburb of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Back then kids went to school when they were seven years old and there was only one school from first grade to tenth grade. I graduated from tenth grade when I was 16. My childhood wasn't the fun one; I grew up in an angry environment; constantly yelled at. I had restrictions about almost everything in my childhood house: no talking, no gathering together, no laughing, etc. And one day I also got restricted reading library books, which was terrifying thing for me. Since books were my only escape from the not-so- happy life around me, I kept reading in dark rooms with a little light from the window. My writing always was good and effortless at school, but I never gave it a thought that I want to be a writer someday. I also was drawn unto spirituality since I was a teenage girl. I was questioning the meaning of life, the meaning of us being here.
Although, I was moving through my life like blindfolded with a lot of fear in me and with no self-esteem
at all, I managed to graduate from the University of Art and Culture twice; once as a play director, then as a theater critic. I got married when I was 32 and had my two kids before we immigrated to USA in 2004. Then I had my third child here. I graduated from DMACC Graphic Design program with A AS degree in 2012 and have been working in different libraries since then. I’m currently a part time librarian at the Clive Public Library.
I wrote poetry back in my country, as well as small essays and articles about creative life in Baku for the paper. I was about 45 when I wrote my first children’s story, The Moon Child. With that, I discovered that I want to be a writer. Writing, telling stories make me feel alive.
Tell us about your relationship to Iowa.:
I moved to Iowa with my family when I was 37. I'm still learning about Iowa; making it home. In October this year I received Passport to Prosperity award through Iowa International Center. At the interview they asked me what I feel about Iowa as my second home. I said, sometimes I travel to different states with my family. When we get ready to return back, I tell my husband, "It's time to go back to Baku." That's how I feel about Des Moines now. It's our second home.
What are your dreams and goals as a writer?:
My dream is to be a full-time writer/illustrator someday and travel around the world with my stories. I want to share my insights about life and give my reader hope for living.
Tell us about your proposal for the work you will create and the approach you will take during the residency.: My migration to the USA also has been a spiritual journey for me. It helped me to find out answers to a lot of questions I've been asking since I was a child. I want to write it in a book and share it with people who maybe asking the same questions. During the residency, I'll make writing my every day activity and speed up my goal to write a whole book.
How could this residency help you, both as a writer and in your best vision for yourself?: First of all this residency would give me an opportunity to take this time to just write; as I mentioned above, I usually get caught up in life's everyday busyness and don't take time for the most important thing for me: writing. Also, it'll help me be more motivated, encouraged, and inspired about my writing; as well as feedback from the professionals would be a great support in finding my own voice.