“Read, read, ask good and silly questions” – Interview with Onyedikachi Chinedu

“Read, read, ask good and silly questions” – Interview with Onyedikachi Chinedu

TABLE TALK

” Read, read, ask good and silly questions ” – Interview with Onyedikachi Chinedu

This year marks the third edition of Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest and we are super pumped to have a one-on-one chat with the winner of the second edition in the poetry category, Onyedikachi Chinedu.
Onyedikachi is a queerish poet that writes from Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
In this engaging interview, Onyedikachi opens up on his passion for poetry, his reaction to winning the 2019 Kreative Diadem contest with his iconic poem, “My Father Hew out Himself on my Skin,” and his struggle with ignorance.
Enjoy.
Kreative Diadem: Who is CJ Onyedikachi? Let’s meet you! 
 
Onyedikachi: He is a young, queerish poet. He loves Ocean Vuong.

 

KD: When did you first discover your passion for poetry? What inspired you?
Onyedikachi: Three years ago. I first had my passion for poetry during my high school days (it wasn’t intense and quick), but I think it started, again, after Romeo Oriogun won the Brunel International Poetry Prize. Yes. They were more amazing poets doing amazing things with poetry. His just stuck to me. He made me a poet: his authenticity launched a great liking for poetry. Everything inspires me: a line from a poem does it for me. Likewise, an adult yawning. Everything inspires me.

Onyedikachi Chinedu

Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a poet/writer? What steps do you take to overcome them?

Onyedikachi: One of the challenges is ignorance. The only way I deal with it is by reading and trying out what I see in books. 

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?

Onyedikachi: I live for Ocean Vuong. The literary figures I look up to, past and present, are TS Elliott, Mahmoud Darwish, Louise Glück, Ocean Vuong, Illa Kaminsky, Yusef Komunyakaa, Justin Phillip Reed, etcetera.

Currently … I’m just reading and writing. But you-all should watch out for me.

KD: In 2018, you won first prize in the poetry category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?

Onyedikachi: I’m still grateful for being the winner of the second edition of the KDAWC. I was gay throughout the Yuletide season. It lasted well and I’m thankful it did.

KD:  Let’s get down to your flash fiction. What was the inspiration behind “My Father Hew Out Himself on my Skin?” Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to your readers?

Onyedikachi: The inspiration behind “My Father Hew out Himself on My Skin” was fed by my father’s non-stop talk of expectation. It is a good thing for loved ones to expect so much from whom they care for, but there should be a moment, once in a while,  where they stop and say: “we know you’re trying enough and we want to say ‘we love you.'” Lol! There was no specific message. It was just me writing how I felt after listening to my dad’s rhapsody for the umpteenth time.

KD: Apart from winning first prize in the poetry contest in 2018, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc?)

Onyedikachi: So far, I have no great achievements. But I have a growing number of rejection in my inbox, if you decide to count that as an achievement.

KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer/poet?

Onyedikachi: Go to school. Write a book or two. Have a chapbook. Be in an MFA program. Get publish more. 

KD: Are you currently working on any poems/books now?

Onyedikachi: Currently… I’m just reading and writing. But you-all should watch out for me.

KD: What advice would you give to young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?

Onyedikachi: The most useful piece of advice I will earnestly and truthfully give to young writers, like me, are: read, read, ask good and silly questions, read, write, read, submit; do not dare settle for mediocrity; there’s always a sunflower at the end, sooner or later.

KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?

Onyedikachi: KD is a nice haven for writers, poets, and readers.

KD: Any final words?

Onyedikachi: Do you think of starting a workshop for poets and writers, KD? We seriously need a space where we are mentored by great poets. Thank you.

Our second issue ever Rebel is out. We had enthralling conversations with Frances Ogamba, Caleb Okereke, and Logan February. It is a bouquet of the best thought-provoking pieces you will find out there.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

Kreative Diadem

The right to think is the right to write

© 2015 - 2019 Kreative Diadem. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

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“Every good work inspires me” – Interview with Chizoma Emeka Joshua

“Every good work inspires me” – Interview with Chizoma Emeka Joshua

TABLE TALK

“Every good work inspires me” – Interview with Chizoma Emeka Joshua

This year marks the third edition of Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest and we are super pumped to have a one-on-one chat with the winner of the second edition in the flash fiction category, Chizoma Emeka Joshua.
In 2019, Chizoma was longlisted for the Syncity Anniversary Award, shortlisted for the Zi Prize and finished as the third runner-up in the Sevhage Literary Awards in the short story category. 
In this enthralling interview, Chizoma opens up on his love for storytelling, his reaction to winning the Kreative Diadem contest last year with his epic story, “The House Called Joy”, and his struggle with procrastination.
Enjoy.

Kreative Diadem: Who is Chizoma Emeka Joshua? Let’s meet you!

Chizoma: Hello, I am a fourth-year Law student at the University of Nigeria. I love reading and writing short stories. I am a believer.

Chizoma Emeka Joshua

Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: When did you first discover your passion for storytelling/writing? What inspired you?

Chizoma: I’m not sure there was an ‘it’ moment when I discovered I loved writing. It was just a necessary fallout (as I think it should be) of my love for reading. As long I can remember I have always loved to read. And I did read a lot growing up because that was my favorite past time. Reading helped me develop a vivid imagination and generated the longing to create something as beautiful as what I read. The desire to contribute to the body of work that currently exists in the world spurred the desire to write. I did actually finish my first short story in 2015.
 

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? What steps do you take to overcome them?

Chizoma: Procrastination. I put off writing so much sometimes that I lag behind eventually. Sometimes I have two or three stories on my laptop unfinished. There is also the problem of the lack of time. I am a student and with the amount of school work I have, I often do not have the time to devote to writing. It often happens that the times when I manage to overcome procrastination or have some free time I cannot write because the inspiration would be absent.
As a remedy, I try to schedule writing into my plans. I make conscious efforts to see that I write periodically, as often as I can. I sometimes set targets for myself. And of course, competitions also help because they give me a deadline to work towards. Sadly, it is often not enough.

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?

Chizoma: I’d like to borrow loosely from what Ologunro said last year to the effect that I am a big fan of any splendidly written work as opposed to being a fan of specific writers. In that sense, I guess my respect goes to the work first, and only spills over to the writer. Every good work inspires me, and there are a lot of them out there. 

” To be less hard on themselves. To savor writing first for the sake of writing despite the awards and competitions because it is the only way to survive in this highly competitive sphere. To make friends with their peers first, and then seek mentors. “

Chizoma Emeka Joshua

Winner of the 2018 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: In 2018, you won first prize in the flash fiction category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?

Chizoma: Consumed.
It did not seem real for a long time because it all happened so fast. There wasn’t a long list and the space between the shortlist and the announcement wasn’t very long so I didn’t even have the time to process the shortlisting before I got to know I won. Afterward, I felt a mixture of elation and immense pride. It was one of the highlights of my 2018.

KD: Let’s get down to your flash fiction. What was the inspiration behind The House Called Joy? Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to your readers?

Chizoma: I seldom write with the intention of passing any specific message. I just put the stories out there as they come. I grew up in Aba and I always heard of girls who fell pregnant and disappeared and then appeared months later without any babies. It was always hush hush of course. “The House Called Joy” is based on one such story. I remember that the first line to the story kept ringing in my head for weeks and I knew I had to write that story down. Most parts are fiction, but the others are true too.

KD: Apart from winning first prize in the flash fiction contest in 2018, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc?)

Chizoma: This year I’ve been published on Afreada. I was longlisted for the Syncity Anniversary award and shortlisted for the Zi prize. I also finished third runner up for the Sevhage Literary awards in the short story category.

KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer?

Chizoma: I can’t see beyond the immediate future right now regarding my writing. And I guess that is sad, but that is a sadness I can live with, that I have chosen to live with. I do know I will be writing, definitely. This is because of how intimately writing is tied to my person but I doubt if I will ever go beyond that say like publish a book or a collection of short stories. I do have intentions of going into the professional world and I do know that writing (deserves) requires all the time you have. I do think it is possible to combine them both and be excellent at them, however, that is a burden I’m not sure I am willing to take. Of course, I will always be with my first love, reading.

KD: Are you currently working on any books now?

Chizoma: No, unfortunately 

KD: What advice would you give to young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?

Chizoma: To be less hard on themselves. To savor writing first for the sake of writing despite the awards and competitions because it is the only way to survive in this highly competitive sphere. To make friends with their peers first, and then seek mentors. To always measure their accomplishments commensurate to how much they know, how much they have experienced and the knowledge available to them. Chances are that if you are diligent then you are right where you are supposed to be. It may not feel like it but that is the truth.

KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?

Chizoma: I think you guys are doing a great job. The consistency is also heartwarming. This is one of the (few) spaces that provide incentives for young people to keep on writing.

KD: Any final words?

Chizoma: I’d like to say a very big thank you to Kreative Diadem. For being patient through this entire process and for having me. Cheers to greater strides!

Our second issue ever Rebel is out. We had enthralling conversations with Frances Ogamba, Caleb Okereke, and Logan February. It is a bouquet of the best thought-provoking pieces you will find out there.

Do you love our published works?

You can add your literary work to an endless list of poems, short stories, flash fiction, and essays.

Kreative Diadem

The right to think is the right to write

© 2015 - 2019 Kreative Diadem. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

FOLLOW US

“FICTION REMAINS MY FIRST LOVE” – Caleb Okereke

“FICTION REMAINS MY FIRST LOVE” – Caleb Okereke

“Fiction Remains my First Love”

– Caleb Okereke

 Kanyinsola Olorunnisola: Recently, you seem to have made a shift towards journalism from your once-upon-a-time preoccupation with literary publications. From AL Jazeera to African Arguments, you clearly have your plate full. For your avid readers who have been waiting for such massive releases as a follow-up to Safe Journey, is there hope for them (read: us) to get another book from you soon?

Caleb Okereke: For starters, I don’t really see it as making a shift. What I might be doing though is exploring writing and storytelling in new ways because truly, the core of my work has always been stories. That I started out telling stories through fictionalizing them and in the written word doesn’t mean that I have made a shift because I do the same thing now, mostly through real-life experiences and often employing video. I entirely understand your angle, but I must say that while the format or medium might change, the goal remains the same.

I once read somewhere I don’t remember that journalism is what creative writers do to keep body and soul together while they write their first book, I see myself in that quote. Also, journalism for me was about giving non-fiction as much attention and enthusiasm as I gave fiction. It has gone great so far but fiction remains my first love and what it has done is revolutionized my fiction, the type of true stories I am confronted with from doing this reporting work on a daily influences the kind of fictional stories I want to tell. 

To directly answer your question though, I do not have a book in the works. A lot because between reporting and studying, I can barely find enough time to do the hard work that is writing a book, especially because I am aiming to write fiction. I have a few ideas here and there, written a few chapters of some of these ideas but there’s nothing set in stone.

If it helps, I am applying to a few residencies (some of them paid) to at least give me the space and time I need to go past more than a few chapters. But that’s also tricky because I need to find residencies that suit my timeline with school and sometimes what looks like it suits your calendar, doesn’t. I’ve gotten into two this year already, one of them on a partial scholarship but I couldn’t attend because of timing. The bigger challenge nonetheless is that I am looking to have a book out by 2022, this would mean ideally that it has to be written between now and next year if I want to meet that timeline. Well, you can see how that is going.

“Ugandan artists are creating, incredible art, incredible music, my best friend is an amazing musician and actress from Uganda but that this immense art being created rarely crosses East Africa means the knowledge level is lopsided.” – Caleb Okereke

KO: You moved quite a while back to Kampala, Uganda, for school and work-related reasons (I suppose), what was it like moving to a whole new world? Was there a form of culture shock? How did you adapt?

 CO: I love Kampala, I always have. Long before I first came in 2017. Growing up, my father worked for a company that held workshops across the world and so I learned of Kampala first from their training materials. It helped also that my father’s stepbrother is half Ugandan, half Nigerian, make of that story what you will.

To be more specific though, culture shock is something that happens even between states within a country, so yes, there was this new way of life sprawling in front of me that I had to adapt to. And as Africans and owing in part to the gospel of pan Africanism, there is the possible misinterpretation of that concept to mean that Africans have a similar way of life across countries but this is very false and the idea behind a contorted understanding of pan Africanism is to represent Africans within a stereotype, one that subsequently becomes easier to typecast. It’s a case of rather than make this continent of 54 countries diverse, why don’t we make them similar and in so doing, singular? So yes, there was some level of culture shock.

One of my earliest examples happened in the first month I arrived, I was at a Saturday game chill and someone whipped out a deck of cards and suggested we play, the rules were very different from anything I had seen and I who was a champion of cards back home did very badly. Another example was from 2017, I had gone out for dinner with a friend and he suggested that we get a taxi back home so I can get the experience, I said “cool,” imagining that experience referred to something other than Uber which we had been using. I said cool because, in Lagos, a taxi is a special hire, but imagine my surprise when we emerged from this expensive restaurant and my friend flagged down the Ugandan version of a Danfo, I realized then that in Kampala, a public bus was called a taxi.

It might be easier, I would think for a Ugandan moving to Nigeria because Nollywood and the Nigerian entertainment industry as a whole have gone continent-wide, to be honest, and so most Ugandans I meet know a lot about Nigeria. They know Danfo, they know Okadas, they even know Ojuelegba. Nigerian music has crossed to Kampala bars, Nigerian fashion, make-up, but the opposite is the case when the roles are reversed, Nigerians have little idea about Uganda and some of my cousins still think I live in Zambia or Malawi. Only one of these countries is even in East Africa. And it doesn’t mean Ugandans are not creating, Ugandan artists are creating, incredible art, incredible music, my best friend is an amazing musician and actress from Uganda but that this immense art being created rarely crosses East Africa means the knowledge level is lopsided.

Adapting might as well have been facilitated because of this, culture shock is harder when the space in which it happens has no idea about your existence prior, but in some way, knowing a lot about Nigeria meant that most Ugandans were willing to carefully explain things to me and to do so, because they kind of understood the space I was coming from, they did this explanation within context. Boda riders, bar attendants, waiters, almost everyone knows Nollywood (and even though this isn’t an accurate representation of who we are because most people I have met think Nigerians are loud and are surprised to meet a soft-spoken one and that we add “O” after every statement) but this has helped me transition greatly.

KO: From your writings, you are clearly not one to shy from intellectual deviancy. But I’d like to know your take on rebellion? What sort of rebellions do you think are necessary in today’s Africa?

CO: I think rebellion is imperative and I find this interesting because just yesterday I was at a fireside chat with a very famous international journalist who spoke about how being objective and staying out of activism had helped his career. I agreed with most of what he said that night but not that bit, and it is a valid stance to take and one I entirely understand because journalism is about objectivity and taking a stand can often come across as a reduction in credibility, but in my opinion, and what I have known to be true, I believe it is this credibility that in turn leads us to take a stand, that influences the rebellion we choose to take on.

If I am aware that people trust me to be a source of truth, it means that I will invariably take up a rebellion against misinformation and lies. So, one of the rebellions I think is necessary for today’s Africa is fighting fake news, whether from the state or from the masses. 

I have seen firsthand the damage misinformation can do and just a few weeks ago when I was in Lagos during the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa, I literally drove through what must have been hundreds of young people wielding sticks and threating to attack our car, they burned a few, we were just lucky. These people didn’t fully understand xenophobia, all they had seen was old videos of people being killed in South Africa accompanied by new headlines of Nigerians being murdered and this lead both to a loss of life and property.

Another rebellion I think is necessary is the rebellion against how Africa is represented in mainstream media and I like that this is an insurrection that has garnered a lot of support and so people are more cognizant of this typecasting by the West, but it cannot be emphasized enough, because even in 2019, the New York Times can put up an ad for a Nairobi Bureau Chief that; has a tremendous opportunity to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania and that this ad went through the international editor without anyone seeing how racist it was? This rebellion is necessary, this anger, we should and be angry and very much so.

KO: Interesting, So, what issues are you most passionate about?

CO: I am very passionate about solutions journalism, this is basically journalism that shifts the focus from what isn’t working to what is working and if you notice, this has been a constant streak in my storytelling. So, the DRC is deep in an Ebola crisis, but what is the DRC getting right? Some of my closest friends are from the Democratic Republic of Congo and they do amazing work detailing solutions in the country.

I am also passionate about minority reporting and not because I think that minorities do not have a voice as most people often assume, a train of thought I find to be very wrong because everyone has a voice, what they might lack, however, is a platform but should they get one then that voice as we have seen in times past, will reverberate across nations. I started Minority Africa in 2019 and with generous funding from the Solutions Journalism Network, we are basically a digital publication providing solutions content on African minority communities and persons using a data-driven multimedia approach that is immersive and interactive.

The goal is to increase the representation and visibility of African minorities in mainstream media and it becomes even more relevant when we consider that in some contexts and in some spaces, we are all minorities. Muslims are a minority in Uganda, for instance, but they are not in Nigeria. The minority also doesn’t always have to be decided by number, you can numerically be the majority but still because of social and economic conditions, be the minority.

So I am passionate about representation, about being seen, about balanced representation and visibility that is blinding. So on Minority Africa, you will find a lot of stories about different minority communities and persons, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, sexual minorities and a host of others but these stories will detail what’s working in these spaces, for these people and not what isn’t. 

KO: You have been involved in a lot of interesting initiatives in the past. What next do you have planned? Do you have any scheduled publications or projects you are currently working on? Tell us what to expect from The Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke

CO: Besides Minority Africa which is my full-time job now as I serve as Managing Editor, I am working on a documentary which will be my first stint as a filmmaker, it’s out of Uganda and is funded by a grant from One World Media.

I am also reporting on a few stories which I think will be huge when they do get out because of their relevance and how much work I am putting into them. I have a freelance writer contract with the BBC but I have only been able to do one piece because I am inundated with quite a lot but you should also expect more BBC pieces from me once I can get some space from school and life to pitch and write.

But primarily, I want you to watch out for Minority Africa and the amazing work we’ll create in the coming months, I am working with some of the best minds in journalism and data from Uganda to Nigeria and with a lot of guidance and funding from the Solutions Journalism Network so it’s almost inevitable that we’d create amazing work.

Source: From the Rebel Issue (October 2019)

A HYMN FOR THE FAIR GEESE by Nome Patrick

A HYMN FOR THE FAIR GEESE by Nome Patrick

A HYMN FOR THE FAIR GEESE 

by Nome Patrick

My father says his son has grown too far from God.

In the light of Lagos, angels nod at him, urge him

to teach me to know God. Why does the vulture fly

so high, when it can fly so close to the heads of foolish

unbelievers? He asks. Can’t unsalt the ocean, why try?

The chapel: tantum ergo. I wake up with my life shorter

than yesterday, isn’t that a belief? I pin my life to the

sleeves of time, that’s prayer enough. The fair geese,

my friends, stand up, ask: But what is God to you –

Why does your life seem a lone play choreographed

by unknown angels?  If I could pay a coin each

to keep them a century quiet, I would.

I’m just a poor boy who can’t tell the dance of

butterflies from the gyration of angels.

The moon so far, I imagine God, if he exists,

builds fences so high, we disintegrate to see his face.

Like the stars, like the moon, I will wander off

someday. What’s it about God that bothers you?

Bother yourselves with the preachers’ false alarms.

They say: this is the voice of another foolish poet.

My silence a heron hovering over an archipelago.

They say: so-called religious rebel, bastard!  Even the birds

perched as witness sing of mockery. For whom?

Their beaks doors creaking to a ghost’s testament:

God is the rivers with their ageless bodies & roar.

God is me whose voice startle humans to mortality.

God is the cold udala orchard & its hair of green.

God is the rainbow, and the boy’s finger pointed to it.

Or the air, how it powers the horses in your bodies.

God is the wind whistling the world to sleep.

I’m mile away from God, but I bear the basket of his fruits.

Who are you? who are you? who are you?

God’s voice in the wind echoes: foolish rebels!


 

Source: From the Rebel Issue (October 2019)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NOME EMEKA PATRICK is a blxck bxy and student in the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he studies English language and literature. A recipient of the Festus Iyayi Award for excellence for Poetry in 2018, his works have been published or forthcoming in Beloit poetry journal, Crannóg magazine, Puerto Del Sol, Notre Dame Review, Gargouille, Flapper house, Mud Season Review, The McNeese Review, The Oakland Review, Alegrarse and elsewhere. His manuscript ‘We Need New Moses. Or New Luther King’ was a finalist for the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He writes from a small room close to banana trees and bird songs in Benin city.

“BEING A REBEL IS ABOUT REJECTING CONFORMITY” – Logan February

“BEING A REBEL IS ABOUT REJECTING CONFORMITY” – Logan February

“Being a Rebel is About Rejecting Conformity”

– Logan February

Kanyinsola Olorunnisola: What approach do you take to the subject matter of your work? Do you specifically seek to write within a frame of pre-conceived themes or do you, as Ruth Stone puts it, “follow invisible patterns”?

Logan February: I think I’m naturally predisposed to working around themes and archetypes, because I often find myself besotted with ideas. And I don’t know what to do with them—most times I do need to find that invisible thread before any of it makes sense. Otherwise, I’m just talking to myself and not really going anywhere; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be quite good to talk to oneself. But I’ll hardly ever put out those confused works.

“Toni Morrison had this incredible practice of unapologetically centering her own realities in her writing. It’s kind of sad that that should be considered rebellious, but for a Black woman in her own zeitgeist, it was.” – Logan February

KO: You have a primary reputation for your astonishing poetry. But you have also written some non-fiction (I absolutely loved “The Mania of Queer Desire” by the way) and fiction too. Is there a distinct experience in navigating each of these genres? 

LF: Thank you very much! That essay was a challenge—took me almost a year to write. It’s naked in a way that I’ve been keeping my poems from getting, lately. I guess poetry will always be home base for me, but I also like to leave my comfort zone from time to time. I’ve been reading a lot of Anne Carson—her writing is quite experimental, spanning across genres, styles and forms—and I love the way that she refers to most of her work as “texts”. I find that gets rid of many unnecessary pressures surrounding genres and their rules. I’d rather stick to the serious business of playing with language and having it play with my thoughts. That’s where the pleasure is.

KO: What’s your take on the definition of a rebel today? And I mean that in terms of social justice and the African literary community?

LF: Being a rebel is about rejecting conformity, isn’t it, when you realize it just doesn’t work for you? People should be free to live on their own terms, obviously. I think rebellion can really help people discover themselves; it did for me. And there’s this argument for conformity that conflates it with the civic currency of morality—I don’t buy that. Society is a disordered institution, regardless. What forced conformity does is create boredom and unhappiness, at least for me.

With regards to the African literary community: I’m not a very collective-minded person, but it’s always refreshing to see all the fierce and rebellious spirits on the scene. I think rebellion thrives in literature and among writers. I have to say, though: I sometimes am appalled by the transphobia within the community. I wouldn’t call it a general thing, but there does seem to be a popular intellectual commitment to missing the point, when it comes to transgender issues. For me, as a young non-binary writer, it was disheartening to see how many Nigerian writers reacted to Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater being shortlisted for the Women’s Prize earlier this year. I thought it was a good time to have useful, illuminating conversations about gender and identity. Instead, some writers chose to make spiteful comments or congratulate every Nigerian on the shortlist except for Emezi. It was a lot of vitriol; I didn’t like to see that. I want to see Africans supporting each other, not tearing each other down. Embracing possibility in radical ways that dissolve margins and normalize diversity.”

KO: Which three people represent the OG rebels for you? Can you tell me why?

LF: Toni Morrison had this incredible practice of unapologetically centering her own realities in her writing. It’s kind of sad that that should be considered rebellious, but for a Black woman in her own zeitgeist, it was. And that rebellion has led so many writers after her to feel permitted to represent themselves in literature.

In music, one of my favorite rebels is The Knife, a duo of Swedish siblings: Karin and Olof Dreijer (Karin also has a solo career as Fever Ray, who I wrote about in “The Mania of Queer Desire”). The Knife are independent electronic artists; their music is always ahead of its time, and they focus on making the process fun, which allows them to always make something new. Their last record was called Shaking the Habitual—an idea I’ve welcomed into my own life.

Lilith is one more rebel that inspires me; she is an OG in a way no one else is. To have been edited out of the Bible, simply for owning her desire, for refusing submission and self-negation—that’s so chaotic and impressive to me. I guess I just love a transgressive woman.

KO: With your career taking off at breakneck speed, where do you see yourself in five years? 

LF: Hopefully I’ll have written more books, and still be writing and working with artists in other disciplines. I should have a master’s degree in something I’m interested in, too. Travel more. I’d like to be in a place where I can love and live and breathe without as many anxieties. But five years is a long time, man. I don’t really know. I just always try to do my work and go with the flow.

Source: From the Rebel Issue (October 2019)

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