Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Jul 26, 2022

The MOTHerview: Questions for Aleeza Kazmi about her story “Pastels and Crayons”

by The Moth Staff

The MOTHerview: Questions for Aleeza Kazmi about her story “Pastels and Crayons

Edited by Suzanne Rust

How did you know that this was The Moth story you had to tell?

One of my favorite things about developing a Moth story is that sometimes truths about an experience reveal themselves in the process of crafting the story. And that was certainly true about “Pastels and Crayons.” I knew it was an important experience that triggered a change in my life, but it was only through The Moth education workshop, in which I crafted the story, that I clearly saw the power that standing up for my identity had, and I wanted to share that truth with my peers. 

I also knew that your teenage years are all about trying to fit into the limiting boxes that society uses to define us, a theme that runs true in my story. I hoped that by telling my story the peers I initially shared it with would resonate with it, and learn that it is okay not to fit into any boxes at all. 

Do you still have that self-portrait? 

I know for sure that my parents had it up until I went to college. But they have since moved and I think the self-portrait was lost in the process. 

But honestly, I am glad it’s gone. That physical drawing was not a positive reminder of that experience. I would much rather my story and the conversations I have had with people who resonated with it be the legacy of that experience, not an ugly drawing. 

Who are your favorite storytellers and why? 

Anthony Bourdain was, and is, my favorite storyteller. In addition to a clear writing style and poignant anecdotes, Bourdain had a keen sense of when it was time for him to listen to others and learn from them, which I think is the markings of a truly gifted storyteller: someone who knows how to listen as much as they know how to speak. 

You are one of the co-hosts of The Moth's upcoming podcast Grown, which features stories about young people. What do you most want listeners to take away from the show? 

Grown is all about recognizing that no matter how old we are, we are never fully grown. I want listeners to learn to have more grace with themselves when they stumble, to recognize opportunities for growth throughout their lives, and to know that they can learn from anyone, no matter their differences in age or background, they just need to be willing to listen. 

Please finish this sentence: Storytelling is important because...

...Our truths are important and we deserve to share them.