Shamim de Brún on Elif Shafak

Words of Breath Stay, by Shamim de Brún

“Right now I am sitting in a small independent coffee shop at the rear of a bookshop in Rathmines and I am on Amazon. Horrific, I know. But the sad truth of the matter is that I am a product of internet culture and I need more information than the blurb at the back of the books can give me. I need to know more. Curiosity. I just have to know more. I can’t get enough.

Today I can’t get enough of Elif Shafak who up till yesterday I, in my ignorance, had no notion of really. I’d read the program of events callously as I applied to cover bits and pieces for this blog that hadn’t been snapped up and I skipped over her name. Rookie mistake! It nearly cost me a fantastic experience. Luckily fate or a some clever person divinely intervened and I was put straight on course for Shafak’s Smock Alley debut.

I sat in my seat with a notebook, pen, strange sense of anticipation, and a need to tweet about it. But I legitimately had no idea why I was, well kind of anxious. Maybe because it was my first event? Maybe because I was on my own? Neither of those things really got to the route of what I was feeling so unable to identify it enough to express myself I just checked in and snapped a photo. Solid. Standard. Moments later, it began.

The fantastically fitting couches that adorned center stage were filled by Shafak and Brendan Barrington and we the audience we’re brought on an incredible journey. From the center of the universe and the angles that guard it, to the comfort and solace of books, through the enchanted lands of language, beyond the peaks of discrimination, into a melting pot of the cosmopolitan, and over the sweeping skies of the world to here in this theater on this day.

We the audience got this real little glimpse of a person, a human being in imperfect balance and harmony. What a gift to give. What a gift to get. I found that even with as little prior knowledge as I had I identified on a pure and basic level. I, like the protagonist of The Architects Apprentice felt like the words were intended for me personally, so powerful was the honesty of the Shafak’s words that I struggled to scrawl in my tiny notebook.

I give up trying to live two seconds behind her in a world of paper and focus fully on the human exchange in front of me. Just as I do Shafak breathes the question “How come human life cannot be more important than any notion of religion. For me human life is the most sacred thing” … Wow. It sticks with me. It sticks to me. It sticks in me. These words made of mere breath stick in my heart.



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