Zara Laghari, Author in the Making

summerJust before Spring Break, I had the opportunity to interview author and poet Zara Laghari, a sophomore here at UNC Charlotte.

Lenny: Okay, so tell me about your background – what’s your major, how long have you been here at UNC Charlotte, where did you grow up?
Zara: Well, I consider myself a Charlotte native even though I was not born here, but I really do love the city. I’ve been living here for about 13 years, and I knew I really wanted to go to UNC Charlotte since I was a freshman in high school.
L: That’s awesome!
Z: Yeah, and I’m majoring in Business, Pre-Business at the moment.
L: What are your career goals?
Z: [Laughs] I’ll tell you when I figure it out!
L: [Laughs] Cool, I’ll be waiting for an update.
Z: But yeah, I really like it here. And even though writing’s not something that’s totally related to the business major, I’ve always found it really, really fun, and it’s a great way to express yourself.
L: For sure. So, why did you start writing, or what got you started?
Z: To be honest, I was not a fan of writing, creative writing, at all, because when I was younger we had to do it a lot, and I never really succeeded at it, but that changed when I went to the 11th grade. When I started my Junior English class junior year, my teacher was trying to emphasize the importance of writing to us. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but the more and more we worked on it, the more and more I realized how important it was and how valuable good writing skills are, and I really wanted to improve my writing and express myself with it.
L: Okay cool. So you said you were in the 11th grade, so you where probably like what, 16, 17?
Z: 16, yeah.
L: Cool. Being so young, where did/do you take inspiration from when you write? Are there certain things that trigger you and make you want to write?
Z: I think there are 2 things that really inspire me when I’m writing. First one would be nature. I love just, like, that’s what really really gets my creative juices flowing.
L: Okay, that makes sense. You submitted a poem, “Lady Niagara”, I really liked that one.
Z: Thank you!
L: [Laughs] I was born and raised in New York but I’ve never been to Niagara Falls, so…
Z: You should go when you get the chance, it’s worth seeing, every bit of it.
L: Mhm! So you said nature was one, what was the other one?
Z: The last one would be memories, reflection.
L: Would you mind talking about your other poem, “So Long”?
Z: “So Long”…So “Lady Niagara” was my nature poem, “So Long” was my memories poem. So it’s basically about summer. Could you tell?
L: Yeah, I could. Really makes me wish that the weather was nicer [laughs]. Are there any goals that you want to meet or anything you want to do with writing in the future?
Z: For now, I’m pretty set on writing a short story and hopefully getting that published, but if I see a little more potential, I’d like to take a short story and make it into maybe a book one day.
L: So you don’t just limit yourself to poetry, you like to do prose as well?
Z: I like Creative Writing, yes.
L: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?
Z: Trying to be clear to your audience and trying to keep them engaged at the same time.
L: Yeah, that can be really difficult. I took a Creative Writing class my Junior year [of high school], and I think it’s a lot more difficult that people give it credit for.
Z: True. I mean, you can think you wrote this masterpiece and you think it’s wonderful, but it might be boring on the other end. I don’t want to be rude, but sometimes in high school we would be reading passages and stuff and I would be wondering, “How did these things get published, they’re so boring!” But now that I write, I want to give those people more credit as well, because I want to respect their work and give it the credit it deserves, because they went through a lot to get it published.
L: It’s also really difficult to find that balance between being able to to write for yourself and being happy with what you’re writing and also writing for your audience. So do you have any advice that you would give any poets or authors that are trying to get published or just trying to figure out what they’re doing?
Z: I think the best advice I could give them is to have their own style. Don’t confine yourself to somebody else’s style or what’s popular. Try to pick out elements that you like in the writing styles of others but definitely give it your own touch to make it personal.
L: Last question! Do you happen to have any favorite quotes?
Z: “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a while to make it short,” by Henry David Thoreau.
L: Thank you so much for coming in and talking to me/us today!
Z: Thank you!

Zara’s poem, “So Long”, can be found here.

Be sure to stay tuned for more interviews, and for those of you who don’t know, the publication of Sanskrit’s 2016 issue will be celebrated at a Reception in the Art Gallery of the Student Union on Thursday March 24th from 5pm-7pm. Hope to see you all there!

안녕!

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About the Author

Alina “Lenny” Fortunato is a sophomore at UNCC pursing an English major with a minor in Linguistics. Between writing essays, reading for class, and trying to stay afloat in a sea of work, she likes to watch her favorite shows (ABC's Thank God It's Thursday, anyone?), keep her Tumblr blog updated, sew, and teach herself Korean. She is always hooked up to Spotify, probably talks way too much, and has a hard time keeping track of all her hobbies. Lenny does not know what career she wants to pursue but is hopeful that her interests in language and Korean culture will take her on many adventures.
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