Talent in Our Town: Danbury’s Klara Coku, a Poetic ‘Sinsation’
Being a radio station for Danbury comes with plenty of perks, but my personal favorite is being able to bring to light the countless talent this great town possesses. Klara Coku is no exception, as she just had her second poetry complication book published this past June. Initially born in Albania, this Danbury resident moved to the United States in 2000 with her family at nine years old, but claims to have had writing aspirations even earlier.
"Would you believe me if I said I was forming poetry in my head before I had even fully grasped the English language?," Coku told us when we caught up with her last week. "I dreamt of seeing my words spread out in a book before I even knew what that even meant to me." It wasn't until later, though, that she realized she "wanted nothing more than to have someone look at a piece in my book... and say to me 'Wow, I felt like you wrote that for me specifically. I have been through that and you made me feel like I am not alone." Her unique ability to cultivate and develop intriguing poetry that her readers can personally relate to has reaped many rewards, but she says there is no greater than a reader expressing how a piece relates to them. She defines literary success as "when you have reached the soul of your audience. Even if it is just one person - you reached them, you helped them, maybe you even saved them. There is no greater success than that, especially as a poet."
Her proven work doesn't come with much research as one might assume. Instead, Coku looks to what she observes in her everyday life as inspiration, which, ironically, doesn't come every day. In fact, Coku says she sometimes goes three months without writing anything. Like all great writers, encountering a writer's block is not uncommon. "I have days where I sit staring at my pen and notebook and wonder if I even know what I'm doing, which can get very exhausting and draining."
But when she's on, she's on. To really get into writing, she has to be out of the house. In one of the most relatable lines we've ever heard in quite some time, Coku told us she has "days where I sit and write nine to ten solid pieces in one Starbucks sitting chugging through countless iced vanilla lattes." She gives much credit to coffee for getting her in the mood to write, but acknowledges sad days play a fair role as well: "I feel like I need to release some anger and feelings. Putting a pen to paper is one of the most therapeutic ways to go about that for me."
Sinsation, Coku's most recent book, is a compilation of two years worth of work, "I had all this poetry lying around, and didn't know what to do with it." When she remembered the feeling of holding her first book, Orphic, she knew she wanted to experience it again. She began putting together the pieces that would later be Sinsation, but says time was her greatest adversary during the process. "I felt like I was running out of time in an imaginary deadline I had given myself. Maybe I needed to prove to myself I had it again." When she wrote Orphic, Coku was in a very different place in her life. "Three years later, my life took a very sharp turn for the better. I went through this phase where I thought, 'am I a good poet only when I'm in a bad place?' I think most authors go through something like that."
We're so glad Coku's in a better place now, and we can confidently say her work hasn't suffered. Sinsation is available on Amazon now, and currently has five stars to boot. You havn't lost a step, Klara - keep up the great work, and keep making Danbury proud!
Want to hear more form Klara Coku? Check out more of our interview with her below!
What kind of research goes into your writing?
Coku: To be honest, much of my writing comes from everyday things in life that I see happening around me on a daily basis. I hope my friends don't kill me when they read this, but many times I will be listening to a story my friends are telling me, and it will just spark something in my brain like, 'that was an interesting line,' or 'that was an interesting lesson learned there, I bet I can turn that into a piece' and draw from it. It sounds weird, but that is how it happens a lot of times. I'll hear something and the piece just starts forming in my head.
What tips can you give to aspiring writers who wish to publish their work one day?
Coku: Super cliché, but the best advice I can give is to never give up. Don't stop just because someone read your work and didn't like it. Remember, you're writing for you first. Whether it's poetry, or a children's book, write for you, and just be proud! Us writers give a piece of ourselves with every word we write on paper and allow others to read it. There is a piece of me in both of my books, and I am so proud of the fact that I am brave enough to share that piece of me with the world.
When you write, do you have a target audience in mind?
Coku: Not particularly, I think my poetry has the potential to reach a very broad audience age wise and to both sexes. I will write from the male perspective sometimes. I feel like I can relate to what men go through, especially when it comes to relationships, so I know a lot of guys can relate also.
Who is your favorite author?
Coku: One of my favorite authors is Albanian author Ismail Kadare, best known for his novel, The General of the Dead Army, which is the story of an Italian general who sets out to return the remains of his country's soldiers who died on Albanian land during World War II. He also gained worldwide fame with his prose work as well.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Coku: James and the Giant Peach! I was always so intrigued by that book. A little later in life we read The Outsiders in middle school - when I tell you I know the book line by line now, I mean it!
Who is your biggest inspiration or mentor?
Coku: My very first and most notable mentor was my 4th grade ESL teacher Mrs. Reiffess. I got in touch with her a couple of years ago and went to visit her at her new school. I will never forget how patient and kind she was while I was trying to learn English is this new world I was brought into. She taught me the proper English language, and for that I will always be so thankful to her. My inspiration I draw from are my parents. They moved us from Albania to a brand new and scary world to ensure that we have a better future. I am forever in their debt.
What was your time at Western Connecticut like?
Coku: I can't say I got the full college experience that everyone else usually gets. I took night classes, and was not allowed to dorm thanks to my very strict Albanian parents. But the campus was beautiful, and my professors were great! Their Justice and Law programs are fantastic; I wouldn't trade getting my Bachelor's from Western with any other school.
Do any elements of being raised in Albania come through your work?
Coku: Absolutely! For better and for worse. Being raised in Albania and being this ‘in - between’ generation in America now makes you see things in a different light and question more. I am a modern Albanian living in America. What does that mean for my writing? Well for starters, there are so many pieces I write that are for me only, I can’t publish those pieces because I always keep my parents generation in mind and I think to myself ‘is this too dark? is this too sexual? is this inappropriate?,’ which absolutely stunts your growth as an author, so I don’t recommend this to up and coming authors, but it is just my thought process as I write and what pieces to release.
What have you been reading as of late? How many books do you think you've read in the last month? Year? Lifetime?
Coku: The last book I read was ‘Me Before You' by Jojo Moyes a couple weeks ago. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for a cry fest. Before that, I read ‘The Outsiders” Shocker! Last month, one. Last year, I'd say its safe to say about thirteen to fourteen. Lifetime, I couldn't possibly tell you. Too many to count. Over three hundred, easy.