Rosalia Gitau, currently a Contributing Editor for Transparency International's Anti-Corruption Research Network, has also worked in law, policy, and freelance writing. Here she talks with Margo Berdeshevsky, author of the new book, Beautiful Soon Enough.
RG: Margo Berdeshevsky was my first interviewee for Paris Writers News, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew she was a writer, poet, photographer, actress, humanitarian, world-traveler, and activist, but, when I knocked on the door of her Marais apartment, I didn’t know what type of person encompassed all of these activities- these lives.
What greeted me was an energetic blond, proudly displaying streaks of grey, wearing turquoise earrings and thigh-high leather boots over tight leather pants. She ushered me into the living room, cutting through her office. It was a writer’s dream – large mahogany desk overlooking a courtyard, an antique magnifying glass next to a well-used laptop. In the living room, hung her photographs. Large, contemporary art pieces that betray a collagist’s preoccupation with layering. Like her very full life, her written and visual works display an urgency to fill it all in.
After our 3-hour conversation, I walked away awed and inspired. Our interview, below, is just a handful of the topics Margo and I covered: from her new book, a collection of short stories, entitled Beautiful Soon Enough, to her politics, lovers, and life lessons. I admittedly broke the first cardinal rule of interviewing: I fell in love with the subject.
Berdeshevsky RG: When did you move here?
MB: Just a year ago…it’s a completely different vibe, and I’m just getting used to feeling like a grown-up.
RG: I was going to say, this is a very grown-up apartment.
MB: What I loved about this is all of this is my artwork. The book [Beautiful Soon Enough] is illustrated with many of my images. I wanted all of the images in the book; I don’t like the Parisian gallery scene very much [though]. I had a show at one point, a series of Cuban photographs. I got to see the gallery scene and it’s pretentious. It’s one way to sell art but I thought if I can find a space [my apartment] where I can make a mini-gallery and invite clients two or three at a time, that’s going to work better than playing that other game.
RG: Where do you feel at home?
MB: I’m one more of the alienated humans who live in Paris- this is more home than not. But I lived for many years in the Hawaiian islands where place and home and ancestry and all that sort of thing are paramount and profoundly important and, because my dearest friends partook in the belief system, I learned it very well. But, in fact, plunk me down anywhere and I’m going to make a life. So, I really understand that the [conventional] version of being a human doesn’t track for me. I’m not a mommy, I’ve been married lots of times, but I’m not married now, so the paradigm that works for lots of people had never worked for me. That’s what made me an actress first- living other people’s lives- and it certainly is what made me a writer.
RG: So, what is your creative process?
MB: A lot of work has come out of my darkest nights because I’ve got to do something with them and eventually I find that they form some little nugget of my understanding. I’ve moved through numerous art forms and continue to [do so] . I’m a collagist at heart in the same way that my images are layers and layers of imagery. The writing is similar; I have a poetic voice that has been written about in reviews and spoken about and I use that element in whatever I write. So the poetry is always there on some level, the imagistic mind is always there on some level.