I am from South Africa; yes, that’s a country! Having lived for short amounts of time in various cities, I always end up in Johannesburg. It’s where I was born and raised and, despite the fast-paced living, the comfort of familiarity soothes me. Sadly, it doesn’t have a coastline. I have written many a poem on an early-morning beach but none of those ever saw the light of day because they dealt with a part of my life I refuse to remember.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Despite the many difficulties South Africa is facing right now, it is still one of the most beautiful places on earth. The sunsets are phenomenal. A few hours from Johannesburg lies the biggest game reserve in South Africa – The Kruger National Park. On a day trip through it you could, if you’re lucky, get to see lions, leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, and many more. All living in their natural habitat. If you’re incredibly lucky, you may even get to see them hunting their prey.
What turns you on creatively?
Primarily, anything I feel deeply becomes an inspiration for my writing. I have dealt with my fair share of tragedies, notably, losing my daughter unexpectedly, by writing about them. It’s a form of catharsis. Shakespeare himself said, “Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” Also, I genuinely love words, especially old words. I love playing with them and making beautiful tragedies out of them. I tend to write more about the abstract than anything else. Old poetry definitely inspires me to write better. Not only the sentiment but certainly the quality of writing.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
I don’t know if I actually have a favourite word, but I love words that express deep emotion. The word wail is definitely up there. It is the expression of deep sorrow, pain, or anger. There can be nothing more beautiful in writing, especially poetry, than depth. Poetically speaking, I will quote a sentence from one of my poems:
So wrapped up in your own fairy tale / you never once heard me wail
What is your pet peeve?
That’s a broad term. I guess I would have to say that I don’t like the way art, in all its forms, often progresses into vulgarity. Sublime charm has progressed into blatant crassness. Subtleties have been replaced by in-your-face unrefined filth. To quote an example, one of my favourite lines of all time is Rhett Butler’s “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Nowadays, you don’t hear of such refined speech being used much. And, oh yes, sexual innuendo drives me to contemplate violent murder!
What defines Diana Burns?
Gosh. That’s a difficult one. I think I am still figuring that out. I spent too many years being defined by the eyes of others. Trying to please and impress. Taking key people in my life, idolising them, and then trying to replicate what pleased them. It took me down a dark path of losing my sense of self. For the past 8 –10 years I have been actively seeking myself. These days I am defined by originality, being myself. Sometimes it has come with the pain of loss and/or rejection but I would not change it for the world. I am not rigid; I am an evolution, and I leave earlier versions of myself everywhere I have been.
Diana is from South Africa and currently works as an English teacher and course creator. She feels that it keeps her connected to her love of the English language, and words in all their beauty. She has been writing poetry since the first grade and also worked as a journalist for a few years when she was in her twenties.