As March is host to World Poetry Day, on the 17th, it seemed a fitting opportunity to catch up with 21-year-old, Christchurch poet, Charlotte Bekhor, and discuss the development of her craft, and also some of the strengths and struggles that make up her book; ‘The Beauty and Her Beasts’, which comes out later this year.
Charlotte was born in London. At an early age she took piano lessons and started writing songs in a small book which very rarely left her side. Her family moved to Ōtautahi (Christchurch) when she was just 11 years old. From that flight she remembers being “captivated” by the view outside the plane’s window and experienced an influx of words that became poems on a page. As she got older, and her writing skills developed, she began writing journal entries. Then, in 2018, whilst spending a year in Israel on a leadership programme, she discovered the work of Canadian poet Rupi Kaur and was inspired to refine her journal entries, and once again express herself through poetry. Charlotte accredits Kaur’s career for the belief she could release a book of her own.
‘The Beauty and Her Beasts’ is made up of five chapters; ‘Broken’, ‘Lost’, ‘Robbery', ‘Whole’ and ‘Free’. These chapters relate to heartbreak, grief, sexual assault, love and life; a purposeful order that rises out of the dark and into the light.
It’s a very daunting task for anyone to talk about life’s nasty truths. “It’s very scary for me,” Charlotte says, “I feel like someone’s diving into my brain and reading all my thoughts.” However scary, she understands the release of her book will be a medium for her own self-healing. She hopes for others it raises awareness and reduces stigma around often avoided topics of conversation.
Some of the poems are short paragraphs whilst others are three to four pages long. Charlotte starts with a sentence or even just a thought she wishes to elaborate on, then lets the world spark her creativity to work these ideas into poems. Ignition for this creativity comes from natural beauty, such as birds gliding between trees, or pretty words she hears in conversation.
As someone who knows that although she can appear “emotionless” yet inside be feeling “a million different things”, Charlotte has learned to be an objective observer of her thoughts. She practices seeing her thoughts as leaves floating down a stream as she maintains her position on the bank. She knows to not dive in after each leaf but also understands that some of her best work comes from swimming alongside them momentarily.
Charlotte has overcome the hurdle of accepting, not only her thoughts and feelings, but her talent for expressing them. She has since experienced an “incredible” response from friends, family, and even complete strangers, all of which hold their own interpretation that relates to what is felt by her words.
She is now seeking a publisher, although is prepared to publish it herself by her deadline of August 27th if no beneficial offer arrives. On this date she hopes to walk into Whitcoulls and find herself a copy.
In our local community, Charlotte wishes to see more avenues of opportunity for young creative writers. She believes emotional expression, in her own craft and all others, should be encouraged and “normalised”. Through developing techniques of externalising what we commonly over-internalise, she knows, from personal experience; people learn to understand themselves better and learn to let go of toxic thoughts and feelings that can hold them back and cause suffering.
Charlotte has been through exceptional struggles yet continues to exhibit resilience. I was intrigued to know what keeps her moving forward; here’s what she has to say:
“Life isn’t linear, and I believe that’s what makes the core of our being so strong. In order to see the flowers bloom, we must walk through the coldest winter first. And when we long for summer to come, we are internally visualising pragmatic prospect. The moments I treasure are the times spent where I thought I was forever masked from the beauty. Because here I am, despite it all. We are constantly learning. I live to experience. I value the things some may walk over. Every conversation, every hug, every walk, every unfortunate event. Every moment I live to breathe in, be present, accepting and always hopeful. Without that life becomes meaningless. Don’t be afraid about feeling. And if we take the time to merit our not so perfect lives, and value even a slim repercussion blessing, our focus will shift to another route and that not so linear line will become much more beautiful and finally watch the flowers bloom.”
Charlotte, we look forward to the release of your book and wish you all the best for this and all future endeavours. Kia Kaha!
Max Anderson (Christchurch Youth Council).
If you want to get in touch with Charlotte, or find out more about her book follow her on instagram: @charliebekhor