This Much I Know: Sasha Terfous

This Much I Know: Sasha Terfous

I never intended to be a poet. I just wanted to find a way of expressing myself. I grew up in New Ross in Waterford feeling like an outsider. There was an otherness about me - my sexuality, being mixed race - and I was geeky, into Lord of the Rings, stuff like that, and I was an emo head as well. 

I tried to fit in by getting into camogie and football and badminton. But it never worked. So I adopted that otherness. I guess I didn’t do myself any favours.

Mental health issues finally came into play in my teens. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety which led to taking medication. I still see a therapist.

My biggest challenge has been overcoming the ‘obstacles’ - coming out, realising that my ethnicity is not a negative thing - and in so doing, I’ve found that my perceived weaknesses have become part of my strength.

When I left school, I struggled to find myself as an adult. I’ve done all the millennial jobs: takeaways, call centres and supermarkets.

I think I’m pushed by this innate need to be hopeful.

I always loved poetry but didn’t even know what ‘spoken word’ was until I discovered it online. Starting out, I was more into the page poets like Sylvia Plath and Maya Angelou. I began doing spoken word alone in my bedroom. I eventually showed some friends who encouraged me to perform at an open mic night.

I’d absolutely no experience of performance. I’d been into drama as a child but I’d never actually had a a part in a play. So my first time on stage, in Dublin’s Bello Bar - it was 2016 and I was 18 - I had a panic attack. I think that’s the best thing that could have happened as it made me learn, fast. That led to me being invited to perform at events like the Electric Picnic, Other Voices, All Together Now and with the RTE Concert Orchestra.

I have never loved anything as much as performing spoken word. It’s like a therapy session.

My intention is always to ask a question and make people think. I don’t care whether they like or hate the poem.

My parents have been very supportive, we all know this is a precarious business. My mother’s attitude has been ‘whatever makes you happy but make sure it works out’. Dad admits to having been more worried about my choices. He left school at 15 to become a carpenter/ joiner so he’s used to hard work.

The best advice I ever received is that the only thing better than success is failure. Every time you don’t succeed, you learn more. And you must keep on trying.

I met my partner Ashleigh online. I’d describe myself as bubbly and high energy but she is totally chilled.

My biggest extravagance is personal care - I’m a real girly girl - I love my hair products and my makeup and my clothes.

If I won the Lotto tomorrow I’d continue in the same vein as now. Maybe spend a bit more on the things we love - she loves her car, I love my dog.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. In my mind you literally have only one chance. Life is short but it is the longest thing we will experience, so why waste it?

My biggest fault is a lack of consistency in my daily life.

The personality trait I look for in friends is honesty.

The thing that most irritates me about others is - honesty.

My idea of happiness is getting into bed at the end of a really busy day during which I’ve hardly had a chance to sit down.

Ambition is more important than talent. But you have to know who you are doing it for - are you doing it for yourself, or for others?

When I’m not working, I like to stay active. I sketch and like Cosplay.

So far life has taught me that you never know what you are going to get.

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up