Some Questions for Özgür Peksen-Saccone

What inspired you to write “One Suitcase, Two Languages”?
For ENG 101 I was a student of Prof. Tara Coleman. She introduced me to the writer Amy Tan. We read one of her stories, “Mother Tongue.” I loved her writing style as well as the topic of her mother’s life as an immigrant in the USA. The topic brought me back to how I felt when I first came to the US in 2016. I think being a foreigner in this country is a big issue because somehow we (immigrants) try to be born again in this country. No matter what we did in our countries, we start all over again. Here begins our second life story. It starts with language. Even knowing the language, our accent and how we use the language always makes people ask “where are you from?” Challenges, difficulties, funny parts, sad parts, loneliness. These feelings are all a part of how I felt and the story came later.

What was your writing process like for “One Language, Two Suitcases”?
My writing process was painful and enjoyable at the same time due to all the memories it brought up. Sometimes the first paragraphs appear in my mind, sometimes the final sentences. In this case, the final paragraph came to me first and I worked backwards. I am an old style writer so my writing process mostly starts with writing by hand on paper. After I have begun, the story comes everywhere with me, staying on my mind day and night. I am constantly thinking of it until I finish the piece. I always listen to music while writing creatively and so every story of mine has some background music or songs. This music helps me to create the energy of my writing and evoke emotions in my readers.

How has COVID impacted your creative work?
Covid started as a really dark time for me. Constant ambulance sirens disrupting the silence in the middle of the night, dead bodies being counted, feelings of despair and fear, economical struggles, being far from my parents. The first weeks were a blur but later this pain turned into art. Pain turned into painting, creating, writing and reading more and more. I wanted to wake myself up and vomit this heavy pain inside of me by creating art. I do not want to say it was a silver lining for me while people were dying but this pain helped me to create more. I needed to create more in order to feel alive.

Read Özgür Peksen-Saccone’s “One Suitcase, Two Languages.”