LETS TALK LITERATURE&PHOTOGRAPHY WITH CLEOPATRA SHAVA @The_Cleopatra

1. Who is Cleopatra Shava?

Cleopatra Shava is still on the path of self-discovery. Her opinion changes often with the accumulation of information on herself and the world. And she often refers to herself in the third person hahaha.

2.What do you do for a living?Studying or working?

I work for a living. Graduated from UCT in 2014, but actually finished 2013, but I was one of those silly folks that missed their first graduation ceremony due to lack of focus haha. But yes, I work in a new division of a company for e-commerce, my main job description is product photography among other responsibilities.

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3.I see you love literature,please tell me more about that?

There is nothing extraordinary about my love for literature. I grew up reading novellas like Goosebumps competing with myself to see if I could finish the book in a day or less. My love for literature started maturing when I was in High School. The one English teacher I had encouraged poetry and writing. That’s when the love really showed itself and settled in like a long lost friend. The introduction to E. E. Cummings was probably the game changer in my life. His style of writing while breaking all grammatical rules really exhilarated me. I love the emotions evoked in crooked grammar.

4.Do you write full-time or part-time?

I arrogantly consider myself a writer. I say arrogant because I often question if I have written enough to boldly call myself that. Writing is like second nature to me. Therefore it is ongoing, consistently, even when it’s 2am and I’m drifting off into sleep, I will wake up to write that line or short poem I’ve just thought about. Work-wise, I’m a freelance writer, besides my blog, I do freelance work for other people here and there.

5.Writers that inspire you?

Initially most of my poetry was inspired by Cummings. Then a few years later I started exploring other writers such as Maya Angelou, she inspired my more longer pieces that relate to self-confidence and self-love; ‘Phenomenal Woman’, that’s right! In University, obviously I went on to study English Language and Literature as one of my majors, I was introduced to a whole new world of literature. I always tell people that Shakespeare is a mere peek into the great works out there. Mere peek people. Currently I’m obsessed and inspired by three amazing poets; Nayyirah Waheed, Yrsa-Daley Ward and Tapiwa Mugabe. When I’m within my emotions, deeply so, Long Leav does the damn thing! Okay so I’m pretty biased towards poetry in general but I also love other types literature, so many great things to consume but so little time. Oh the tragedy!

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6.Please give us an insight into your writing development?

I started writing when I was in primary school, I had a diary. But I could never commit consistently writing about my mundane day, everyday. So I read more and played outside at that age. In High School, I discovered my love for poetry and deeply explored that. Deeply. To the point where some of the pieces I wrote scared me so much so I had to burn them as a metaphor of letting go, dramatic I know. Uni, I stared exploring scriptwriting and short stories. I was always fixated on the same genre which was inspired by the Spanish film ‘The Skin I Live In’. Currently, I’m more into writing opinion pieces, reviews, and my freelancing requires event reviews/ articles.

7.You also drawn into photography&how does it add onto your creativity?

Oh my goodness I love my camera, recently I have been calling it my ‘money-maker’, Pharelle and Snoop had it all wrong! Photography definitely does for my creativity what words cannot always achieve. Sometimes I look at a photograph and I feel so moved internally. That drives me crazy, in a good way. I cannot explain the love I have for photography because I simply, ironically, do not have the vocabulary to express it adequately. One thing I can say, I live my life in words and images, constantly [mentally] writing and constantly taking photographs, or at least pointing out a good shot every time I see one.

8.How do you infuse the two&deliver your own unique style of art?

Each photograph carries its own emotion. I do not take a photograph with a written piece in mind. I write and capture separately. However, when the time presents itself, there is always an image that fits so well with a written piece.

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9.How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I am still evolving. I have come to appreciate a lot more life has to offer – the good, the bad and the ugly. Everything that happens to me helps create more depth in my life story and I use that as inspiration. The day it hit me that I had definitely evolved creatively was the day I wrote a piece, not poetry – more prose, about a green glass vase I was cleaning and had to urge to break. I already had images of the vase I’d taken days before. Anyway the piece developed exploring all my other intrusive thoughts such as wanting to scrub my face with sandpaper etc. The piece was odd and I tend to like odd things. Still my favourite thus far.

10.How do you market your skills?

I do not actively market my skills except for tweeting the links to my blog or sending my portfolio to companies I want to work in.

11.What’s your views on social media for marketing?

Well I use social media marketing for my blog. So I’m pro that method of marketing. However, I am quite detached from social media in general so I cannot be sure how effective it is on a wider scale other than my own. I use the internet and social media to look for specific things or post specific things. Half the time I do not even consider the fact that people can and do actually read what I post. Silly I know but I have had situations were people read back to me what I have written and I just want to hide. My online/writing persona is much braver than real-life me.

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12.How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

Self-evaluation/ constructive self-criticism and research on/ by other photographers.

13.How does black and white vs color play into your work? Do you find them to be totally separate beasts or complementary?

I have noticed that I am drawn to colour more than black and white. Colour I generally use to express openly whatever it is I mean to express. Black and white generally entails that I am not being completely open and it usually has melancholy connotations or deep levels of uncertainly about whatever the subject matter is. Yes, I am brutally emotional so the colour tones of my photographs usually have meaning behind them.

14.What do you want your viewers to gain from your work?

I say take what you like and ponder you what you don’t. Or don’t, it’s that simple. I do not do what I do for validation, I do it because I do not see myself doing anything else in the world [even-though I consider other things whenever I’m flat-broke and hungry hahaha].

15. What to expect from you?

“Expectations lend to disappointments”, I live by that. I’ll say this though, I have no intention of being or living in mediocrity. So I’ll do what I must.

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Get in touch with Cleo through:

Twitter:@The_Cleopatra.

Instagram:@Cleopatra_Shava.

Blog:www.theblacktofu.com.

Thank you for the interview Miss Shava all the best with your future plans. Love, peace, joy& prosperity to you

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