” Believe in your dream; believe you have something to say to the world” – Interview with Chiamaka Nwangwu
As the Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest enters its second year, we had an engrossing chat with the winner of the maiden edition in the poetry category, Chiamaka Nwangwu. She made the longlist for the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize in 2016. Her essay, ‘My Book Affair’ was published on TheAfroReader, a literary blog in 2017.
In this interview, Nwangwu discussed her passion for writing and how she got the inspiration behind her winning poem, ‘Lights Out.’ Enjoy.
Winner of the 2017 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)
KD: When did you first discover your passion for poetry, what inspired you?
KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a poet? What steps do you take to overcome them?
KD: Who are some of the literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?
“Believe in your dream; believe you have something to say to the world. Don’t put down the pen.”
KD: In 2017, you won first prize in the poetry category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?
Nwangwu: I was surprised
KD: Let us get down to your poem. What was the inspiration behind Lights Out? Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to the reader?
Nwangwu: I remember there was a fuel scarcity at the time and I passed a fueling station around where I live. There were so many cars at different angles, filled with different people. Others were carrying jerry cans and they looked determined to get petrol that night no matter the cost. I think I just went home that night and started to write.
I tried to capture the plight of different classes of Nigerians and how we are collectively affected by the poor power sector. I want my reader to connect with the problems posed by the power sector in Nigeria and vow to do better if put in a position in power. I hope that anyone who reads the poem, in general, feels motivated to make a change for good in Nigeria.
KD: Apart from winning first prize in the poetry contest last year, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc.)
Nwangwu: I made the longlist for the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize in 2016. My essay My Book Affair was published on TheAfroReader, a literary blog in 2017. I am really hoping for more accolades.
KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer?
Nwangwu: Well, I honestly would like to write a lot more. I want to move into the prose genre fully and it would be amazing to be published by the New York Times for my work. I would like to publish my first novel at 25.
KD: Are you currently working on any poems/books at the moment?
Nwangwu: Yes, I am.
KD: What advice would you give to aspiring poets like yourself, especially in Nigeria?
KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?
KD: Any final words?