“Write. Live and write some more” – Interview with Bura-Bari Vincent Nwilo

“Write. Live and write some more” – Interview with Bura-Bari Vincent Nwilo

Anthony Okpunor

TABLE TALK

“Write. Live and write some more” – Interview with Bura-Bari Vincent Nwilo

Bura-Bari Vincent Nwilo is a Nigerian writer and photographer who hails from Rivers State, Nigeria. He resides in Nsukka, Enugu State, where he currently pursues a postgraduate degree in African Literature at the University of Nigeria.

Nwilo has deep connections to his Ogoni roots, evident in his use of Ogoni names to represent his characters as well as the incorporation of the language in his works.

In this interview, Nwilo offers a glimpse into his writing regimen and the blend of both literature and photography in his art.

Enjoy the read!

KD: Let’s meet you. Can you tell us about yourself?

Bura-Bari: My name is Bura-Bari Nwilo. I am an Ogoni man from Rivers State. I live in Nsukka in Enugu State where I am on a postgraduate program in African Literature at the University of Nigeria. A lot of people know me as Vincent, but I prefer Bura-Bari since it is connected to my Ogoni root. I love food and literature. And when I am not taking random photos, I am writing or editing something. I am a first child to 3 siblings and a lot of non-biological siblings. I love to laugh and when I can, I drink beer. I love calm and all things beautiful. 

Anthony Okpunor

Bura-Bari Vincent Nwilo

Author of “The Colour of a Thing Believed.”

KD: When did you start writing professionally and can you tell us a bit about the early days?

Bura-Bari: Professionally would be when I started getting paid? I have been writing articles since secondary school. Well, I think payment first came from rendering such service as editing. Today, I ghostwrite and write screenplay to stay sane. Fiction has not sold quite well. And I write poetry only when prose cannot express what I feel and when I need to say less, especially in an esoteric manner.

The early days has not stopped for me since I am still trying to find that big story. Until the big story arrives, I am still within that formative stage.

KD: How would you describe your writing style?

Bura-Bari: I do not think I have a writing style currently. Maybe I did many years ago. I read Dambudzo and I wanted to sound like him. These days, I just write and the story with fewer words. I cannot tell you what my style is. Maybe if you curate my works and decide to pay attention, you may find similarities, but I cannot tell what makes it different. Maybe the names I use? I like to give my characters Ogoni names.

KD: Can you give a brief description of your writing process or routine? Do you have any helpful writing tips you’d like to share?

Bura-Bari: Depending on what I am writing. Reading other works spur me. A situation could do that for me too. Sometimes a good photo does the magic. Anything that has a story, surface or not, has the ability to inspire me. It could be a phrase; it could be the smile or an action.

When I am spurred, I draw up an outline and try to see where the story leads. This could kill the creative juice but it sometimes helps me. Sometimes I write and when editing, I connect the dots.

Screenwriting is a bit more technical since everything or word has to be necessary. But for prose, I can decide to be fanciful with language and just write until I am tired and then edit. But a lot of people say I am a minimalist. Well, I like to say what is necessary and move on to something else. Maybe this is why I have not written a novel yet.

“Write. Live and write some more. Do not stay away from knowledge that sounds like taboo. Explore. Ask questions. Help people. Travel. Love and become kind. These are places where stories come from. That’s what any writer should do. And keep an open ear for opportunities.”

KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer and photographer? What steps do you take to overcome them? Where do they both connect?

Bura-Bari: Aside platforms to publish these things, I do not think I have so much constraints. They are both great ways of documenting the world around me. And well, I just click at whatever inspires me. As for writing, I have to be sure it is worth it.

Sometimes I have a story in my head for a long time and I do not have the will to pursue it. The story that would make my novel has been in my head for a long time. I keep editing it in my head and I hope I get to tell it someday. I have shared it with a couple of friends and they are fascinated by it. 

KD: What was it like completing and publishing your first book?

Bura-Bari: My first book was self-published. Completing it was a task I gave myself and I am glad I took that step. I was freshly out of the university and I needed something that would make people refer to me as a storyteller. Some of the stories in the collection are still dear to me. Others were just works that I experimented with.

KD: Does the education system influence or bring out the best in writers?

Bura-Bari: To raise quality in writing, you have to depend less on the educational system. It will not do you any good. Educating yourself, studying and reading, and experiencing and keeping an open mind may do more than any institution would offer.

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

Bura-Bari: I love all of them. Writers have one or two things they spur in me. I could love Soyinka for his amazing knowledge of the English language and its usage. I could love an Achebe for his simplicity. I could love Adichie for her narrative pattern and carefulness with sharing her thoughts. Most times, you will catch me listening to Frost or W.H. Auden. Any of these people have something they quicken in me. I do not have any one figure I worship. I admire hard work and great art.

KD: Do your short stories have a unifying theme or you simply write on matters of the moment, or what inspires you?

Bura-Bari: I write on variety of issues. The unifying thing would be their humanity and they are of common and everyday people.

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

Bura-Bari: I wish to survive. I wish to teach in and outside Nigeria. I wish to open a centre for writers and memories in Ogoniland and inspire young writers to create and become more than just humans who live and die. I have a model for the project but it is expensive. I wish to write some more stories and speak to people from across the world on whatever it is that I eventually think of as a topic. I wish to get married and raise some children, three or four. I wish to own a farm, a school, some real estate businesses and retire to a penthouse in Luubara.

KD: Are you currently working on any book(s) now?

Bura-Bari: I am working on a collection of verses in the Ogoni language called Khana. I think it is necessary to have creative works in our indigenous languages. It is a pioneer work that I hope would inspire a lot of other fine geniuses. Maybe I will write a novel after my postgraduate program.

KD: Do you think there are enough opportunities for emerging writers in Nigeria?

Bura-Bari: No. But we are hopeful and as we progress, we shall create and enable the environment for such.

KD: What advice would you give to emerging writers, especially in Nigeria?

Bura-Bari: Write. Live and write some more. Do not stay away from knowledge that sounds like taboo. Explore. Ask questions. Help people. Travel. Love and become kind. These are places where stories come from. That’s what any writer should do. And keep an open ear for opportunities.

KD: Any final words?

Bura-Bari: Stay out of trouble except it is actually necessary to engage trouble. While giving opinion about the society, think of solutions too. And do not watch from afar. Try and engage and share your knowledge and experiences with the system so there can be growth.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

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

“Read a lot and be patient with your art” – Interview with Anthony Okpunor

“Read a lot and be patient with your art” – Interview with Anthony Okpunor

Anthony Okpunor

TABLE TALK

“Read a lot and be patient” – Interview with Anthony Okpunor

As we anticipate the fourth edition of our Annual Creative Writing Contest, we recently interviewed the winner of the third edition in the poetry category, Anthony Okpunor.

Anthony hails from the Southern part of Nigeria. In this interview, he discusses his passion for writing; including his early days as a writer as well as some of the challenges and inspirations behind his art.

Ready? Let’s go!

Kreative Diadem: Who is Anthony Okpunor? Tell us briefly about yourself.

Anthony: Anthony is a mix of quiet and trouble. Fun, with a flair for solitude. Also a good listener & conversationalist. These provide the space for me to be an artist. I write poetry as an aesthetic. I love music a lot, a whole lot that I find myself singing almost all the time. There is then this attraction to people, not just my own space. I enjoy the company of (the right) people, gathered anywhere having long laughs at the silliest of things, toasting to friendship. This hybrid longing makes me omniverted. Before all these I’m a Nigerian male, dark skinned, from an Ibo speaking tribe in the South. I’m also a Christian. I love God.

Anthony Okpunor

Anthony Okpunor

Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)

KD: When did you first discover your passion for writing and what inspired you?

Anthony: I’ll have to take you back to my secondary school days to give you an answer.

There was this tradition at the time where English teachers gave students compulsory essays with a title to write on. The tradition was in the title: “A Day I Will Never Forget”. I do not know if they still do it.

I remember I wrote a fiction. At the time I did not know it was called that. I did not mind, so long as the ideas kept pouring out of my head, I was happy. I remember I wrote about a robbery, what made me think of something like that; I will never know.

At the dawn of the following term when our exam papers were handed back to us, I turned out to have scored highest in that section. I still see the smile on my teacher’s face sometimes. I remember she made the entire class know I wrote the best story.

I got home and showed it to my sister who read it and said she loved the story. Ever since, I’ve grown one or two writing limbs.

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

Anthony: I believe writers in Africa (Nigeria especially) have a challenge of getting access to good & contemporary books. In my country where there are not many libraries, & the ones available carry the weight of old thoughts, this is a huge challenge. There is hardly a place here where contemporary works are displayed for writers to have access to them. This is why literary festivals are such miracles.

Then there is the struggle to be “seen”. It is sad that writers are not really “writers” except they have been published in a foreign journal or have won a major awardwhich has to be foreign, else you were just lucky. Who made foreignness a test of true art? There’s no one to point a finger at anyway, because before now there was no platform to celebrate the younger generation of writers. But now there are literary bodies here and there, big and not-big. The Nigerian Students Poetry Prize at the moment is the highest platform for emerging writers that are undergraduates, and it is such a beauty because it gives every student a chance to express their art, & winners get recognition from home and abroad. Before now it wasn’t so.

I get my books online, some of which I have to pay for. Others I get from friends and colleagues. Being a writer anywhere is not easy, but I think here in Nigeria the volume is turned up a lot more. The good thing is, none of these hindrances have stopped us from telling the world we exist.

KD: What are some literary figures that inspire you and your work?

Anthony: I think Ilya Kaminsky inspires me a lot. I don’t know if it’s because I have read his jaw-dropping Deaf Republic countless times. I appreciate the works of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie too. I like her stories and the voice behind them. There is Chinua Achebe, who I believe to be the father of African literature. In that light, I still go back to the works of Wole Soyinka from time to time. Chris Abani. Kwame Dawes.

Coming down to a younger generation, there are a lot of them that have really dressed the Nigerian literary bed. They are poets like Saddiq Dzukogi, Romeo Oriogun, David Ishaya Osu, Okwudili Nebeolisa, Kechi Nomu, Chisom Okafor, JK Anowe, Theresa Lola, Logan February, Kolade Olanrewanju Freedom, Kukogho Iruesiri  Samson, Jide Badmus, Gbenga Adesina, Rasaq Malik, Gbenga Adeoba. They are beautiful poets like Michael Akuchie, Adedayo Agarau, O-Jeremiah Agbaakin, Ogwiji Ehi, Hussain Ahmed, Nome Patrick, Ernest Ogunyemi, Chukwuemeka Akachi (RIP),  Wale Ayinla, Hauwa Shafii Nuhu, Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto, Taiye Ojo, Ugochukwu Damian, Pamilerin Jacob. Some poet like Anthony Okpunor.

I also enjoy reading Safia Elhillo. I love how she uses language and metaphor to navigate identity. Also Aja Monet, Warsan Shire, Ladan Osman. There are many not mentioned here I would have loved to talk about. In general good art inspires me, not just poetry; songs too. Movies. Paintings. Drawings. Anything that has rhythm to it. And oh, I enjoy reading Shakespeare big time!

“It is sad that writers are not really “writers” except they have been published in a foreign journal or won a major award— which has to be foreign, else you were just lucky. Who made foreignness a test of true art?”

Anthony Okpunor

Anthony Okpunor

Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)

KD: Last year, you won first prize in the flash fiction category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. What was your reaction like?

Anthony: The funny thing is I didn’t get to see it till an hour or two after the winners were announced. When I got the email, at first I wasn’t all jumpy. I wanted to be certain I knew what I was reading. It wasn’t until I began receiving accolades from friends that it started to dawn on me that I had won. It was a joy.

There is a kind of noise that comes with winning, that day that noise was all I could hear. And it’s great because before then I was seriously getting kicked by rejections. (I still get slapped around with rejections a whole lot). So there was no way of assuring success, but I won regardless. It came with both grace and light.

KD: What was the inspiration and meaning behind your winning poem: ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE?

Anthony: The poem on its own has no origin. It is a sequel to another poem I wrote in 2017, “When We Started Taking Notes”. I had told a friend that if she would take out time to write something, even if it wasn’t a poem, that I would write her a poem. A love poem somewhat about survival, for at the time I was reading Romeo Oriogun a lot. So my poems started to look like his. I believed I was scammed because she didn’t write anything that day, but I wrote mine. It’s sounding funny in my head. Anyway I posted the poem on Facebook before sending it out to African Writers.

That was where it all started from. So when I was to write for the competition, I went back to my old poems to find inspiration. As fate would have it, that poem was the first poem I read. I thought of creating another like it, and I did.

The winning poem carries the same thoughts with its antecedent; survival. The struggle to be anything at all. Not only the struggle to love, although it looks as if the poem takes just that one shape.

Now I write about love. But not the juvenility that parades the internet, I aim to heal. I believe there are many things that make up this ocean so I write about them too: things like grief, acceptance, peace, death, laughter, silence, thirst, lust, kindness, sacrifice, long-suffering, betrayal. There is no love without loss, so I write both black and white.

KD: Do you have any other published works aside from ODE TO OUR BODY ON FIRE, as well as any other achievements you’d like to share?

Anthony: I have works published on African Writers mostly. I’d be glad if readers took out time to read them. I have also had works on Rattle, the McNeese Review, Praxis Magazine. As for the achievements, I’m still working on those.

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

Anthony: My long-term goals are really long. I prefer not to say for now.

KD: Any forthcoming works or publications?

Anthony: Yes. I have works forthcoming on Palette Poetry, and Frontier.

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

Anthony: Read a lot, and be patient with your art. In time it will be kind to you. Rejection is a crucial part of the journey so do not take any comment on your work personal. Every comment is an opinion. Have yours (an informed opinion), and grow.

Then write. Tell your story. Tell your truth the way only you can. The prize is not what is gained when you win, remember. When you don’t win tell yourself nothing was promised.

Any final words for Kreative Diadem and its readers?

Yes: thank you.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

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

“Find your voice and your style” – Interview with Nneoma Mbalewe

“Find your voice and your style” – Interview with Nneoma Mbalewe

TABLE TALK

“Find your voice and your style” – Interview with Nneoma Mbalewe

As we anticipate the fourth edition of Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest, we had a chat with Nneoma Mbalewe who won the flash fiction category of the third edition.

Nneoma is an award-winning writer who was shortlisted for the Creative Freelance Writerz (CFW) prize last June. She currently studies Law at the prestigious University of Ilorin, Nigeria. Nneoma discusses the inspiration behind her winning entry “Ayomide” and also shares some tips for young writers.

Enjoy the read!

Kreative Diadem: Who is Nneoma Mbalewe? Tell us briefly about yourself.

Nneoma: I’m an avid reader and zealous writer. Besides that, I’m a law student at the University of Ilorin.

Nneoma Mbalewe

Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: When did you first discover your passion for storytelling and what inspired you?

Nneoma: I would say in primary school. I was a ferocious reader (still am) and with such reading, grew my desire to tell stories.

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

Nneoma: I would say timidity and lack of confidence in myself. I read some stories/novels and they’re so good that I begin to question myself. Is writing for me? It pushes me to want to better my work and spend time trying to be a perfectionist instead of actually sitting down to write.

KD: Who are some literary figures that inspire you and your work?

Nneoma: I have a lot, actually. Internationally, I read a lot of James Patterson, Sidney Sheldon and Karen Rose. I also look up to Elnathan John, Chidera Okolie, to name a few. But I don’t limit myself and my favorite figures change very often.

“Find your voice and your style. Just because someone writes the way you like does not mean that style is for you.”

Nneoma Mbalewe

Winner of the 2019 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Flash Fiction Category)

KD: Last year, you won first prize in the flash fiction category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. What was your reaction like?

Nneoma: I was surprised, honestly. I hadn’t wanted to submit Ayomide because I felt it wasn’t ready but the deadline was approaching and I really wanted to submit something. Winning made me elated.

KD: What was the inspiration and meaning behind Ayomide?

 Nneoma: Ayomide was birthed by the question,” How do we prove our worth if we do not even get an opportunity?” If Ayomide was born elsewhere, at his age, he probably would have gotten a college degree being a prodigy. Besides that, no one else has noticed his genius, except his teacher. A lot of people we meet are talented yet have no way of letting the world know. That’s the story I wanted to tell.

KD: Do you have any other published works aside from Ayomide, as well as any other achievements you’d like to share?

Nneoma: I have very few published works. I was shortlisted for CFWriterz June 2019 prize and one of my stories was published in their magazine. Apart from flash fiction, I have won two essay competitions.

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

Nneoma: I still see myself writing years and decades from now. It’s something I really love and I can’t let it go just like that.

KD: Any forthcoming works or publications?

Nneoma: I have a few incomplete works that I would like to flesh up soon.

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

Nneoma: I’d say, find your voice and your style. Just because someone writes the way you like does not mean that style is for you.

Any final words for Kreative Diadem and its readers?

Nneoma: To Kreative Diadem, thank you very much for this opportunity. You guys are awesome. To the readers, don’t you ever dare quit reading.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

Do you love our published works?

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

“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.

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

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 - 2020 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!

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

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 - 2020 Kreative Diadem. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

FOLLOW US

“Sweat and Patience Always Constitute the Writer’s Best Weapons” – Interview with Brigitte Poirson

“Sweat and Patience Always Constitute the Writer’s Best Weapons” – Interview with Brigitte Poirson

TABLE TALK

“Sweat and Patience Always Constitute the Writer’s Best Weapons” – Interview with Brigitte Poirson

Brigitte Poirson is a multiple award-winning poet, a former teacher, university lecturer and editor that inspires the literary world out of France. She has authored seven books ranging from poetry to theatre and fiction, both in English and French languages. She has contributed to several magazines and anthologies. 
 
Poirson is popular in literary circles as a staunch promoter of African literature and offers her selfless support in grooming the next generation of writers and poets by creating spaces for them at the pinnacle of excellence. WordsRhymes&Rhythm, one of Nigeria’s largest poetry platforms organizes an eponymous monthly poetry contest in honour of Brigitte Poirson. She is an editor for Expound Magazine and the WRR – Caprecon Green Author Prize. 
 
In this inspiring conversation with Poirson, she sheds light on her writing process, her love for poetry and the sacred list of her literary mentors. 
 
Enjoy! 

 

KD: Tell us a bit about your early days. Did you encounter any challenges at the beginning of your career?
 
Poirson: Thank you for offering me the honour to answer your questions. A few days ago, when interviewed about his career, a film maker answered that your next film is always the first. In that sense indeed, each book you produce proves a new challenge too. Each book is always the start of a new beginning, just as every child you give birth to is singular and launches a new adventure. Every time, the process has to be reinitiated, especially with poetry. The challenges of testing a new, specific theme, treating it under a new angle and possibly reaching another kind of readership are constant. I believe writers must be prepared to stand up to the many tests of steering their books to creation, distribution and promotion for all their lives…
 
That is why we, in France, create various associations of writers – authors from the same publishing house or from others – and organise literary “salons” together. We contact mayors liable to be interested in arranging a meeting in their townhalls and inviting people to browse about and get hand-written dedications if they buy the books. I am a member of such a group called “Les Plumes Comtoises”. We have a president and a banner, but mostly we are birds of a quill and real friends. The Paris book “salon”, for instance, is a well-known and crowded event where you can meet new and famous authors. Meeting your readership proves a fruitful experience on both sides of the book.
In any case, sweat and patience always constitute the writer’s best weapons.

Brigitte Poirson

Multiple award-winning poet and writer.

KD: You seem to be very interested and involved in African (particularly Nigerian) poetry. Where does this interest stem from?

 
Poirson: Actually, I was born to Africa practically from birth. Customs, languages, landscapes, issues, tales and first-hand stories were waved at me from family living in Benin. There has always been an African me completing my European self. I later visited some African countries, in particular, South Africa. These were emotional encounters. In 2014, it so happened I came into contact with Samson Iruesiri Kukogho, a contributor to a poetry anthology, via Grapevine, that I compiled and published in Bloemfontein. Ensued a long-lasting friendship that enabled me to better discover the scope of the Nigerian poetic genius. That was when we decided to create an online college of Poetry, then a contest to encourage young poets and reward them.

KD: Are there any literary figures/poets that inspire you?

Poirson: Who has inspired and keeps inspiring me? Every ‘person of the word’, if you allow me that expression. All writers have a specific outlook on life and /or a whole universe to share. They do it more or less artistically and deftly, but what high-brow critics sometimes label pedestrian poetry, just as much as what some revere as crazily innovative lines, only manifest each creator’s vision of poetry. Despising people is not my trade. Promoting them is my concern.
 
Obviously, famous poets and novelists have steered me along my journey into literature. I have admired and studied mentors such as Victor Hugo, Louis Aragon, Shakespeare, Wordsworth or Auden, and so many more!  African literature has always attracted me for its imagination and wisdom. I read African stories from my early childhood, so later on Mandela, Achebe and a range of others have taught me to follow the difficult tracks of African challenges and the spirit behind its brilliance. Lots of novelists have inspired me, but of all of them, the one whose way to absorb human experiences and translate them into words has best spurred me into action remains Virginia Wolf. In this world more dedicated to science-fiction, suspense and violent actions, the stream of consciousness has lost some of its lustre, but not so to me.
 
Ultimately, the deep interest of meeting all these writers lies in the delectation of ingesting their creations, and by so doing, in learning to develop one’s own style under their protective eyes.

KD: What do you think about the state of poetry in Nigeria and Africa as a whole? Are there enough opportunities and recognition for aspiring poets in Nigeria/Africa?

Poirson: With the development of social networks in recent years, we have all become aware that the possibilities of reading, writing, and publishing books have increased exponentially. In that sense, Zuckerworld offers authors new opportunities to leverage their chances to be acknowledged and get a sense of belonging. The dreadful problem of location and isolation thus seems solved. This accounts for the innumerable blogs and sites devoted to literature. The oral traditions of spinning tales and poetic stories in Africa have also found a channel to expand the realm of the word. Nigeria and Africa, in general, are blooming into creativity, to my experience. But in the new, connected world, many aspiring streams may get lost and suffer from drought along their rush to the sea. Traditional publishers, more than ever, remain reluctant to invest in new talents. It is imperative to offer more opportunities for the poets and prose writers to shine. That is why I offer my services to WordsRhymes&Rhythm Publishers today and sponsor my eponymous contest with them, and many others too, plus editing. Naturally, initiatives such as Kreative Diadem must be encouraged.  Talents do not necessarily need to be acknowledged in the UK or elsewhere. Recognition at home is worth any other award…                                                    

 

“In consistence with what I mentioned before, allow me to state that we reinvent ourselves with every word we write.” – Brigitte Poirson 

Brigitte Poirson (center) 

In a recent gathering of a literary salon, Les Plumes Comtoises, held in France

KD: What is your writing routine like? Do your poems have a unifying theme or do you write based on matters of the moment?

Poirson: I have no specific writing routine. I write…when I find the time for it. I used to sit and scribble pages all day long when I was able to because a lot of concentration and documentation is needed to create collections of poems and novels.
But I am more involved in counseling, editing, scoring and rewarding a younger generation these days.
 
When I do compose pieces, I try to unite originality and depth, freedom of inspiration and respect for the language. The spirit of a poem or a longer form of literature is what matters most to me, coupled with a clear style.

 

KD: You host or promote many different poetry contests for Nigerian/African poets regularly. What is the overall vision with that?

Poirson: Hundreds of budding authors have been chatting me in the wake of the contests (and originally from posting my poems). As I have already hinted at, there comes a time when legacy becomes an obvious priority. And lending a friendly shoulder to young talents falls into line with my commitment to the various teaching activities I have been involved in. Lots of deserving, but isolated people feel lost when confronted with the harsh realities a writer must face in his activities. And they need counseling and editing. And encouragements. And recognition. They also need to test their capacities in a welcoming environment. Hence the contests. Mostly the BPPC, aimed at lifting their spirits.

 

KD: Any forthcoming books at this time?

Poirson: I have a forthcoming novel in store. It has been longing to be published for ages. It just needs a bit of editing after all this time. I just hope to be able to find a few moments to do it! I have a publisher for it. So, I look forward to adding that nice gloss it is lacking today. It is a French novel, by the way. I also have a few English short stories waiting to be published.

KD: Any advice for aspiring poets in Nigeria?

Poirson: Aspiring poets know they must strive to find their own style. They know they are expected to stand out among the writing crowd, if they are to be noticed. But it is my belief that finding one’s style cannot be a forced process. It must come from reading others and sweating over one’s own work, and naturally from delving into one’s deepest experience. Aspiring authors, during this quest to the Graal, sometimes tend to align big, learned words. Fine. But accuracy in the choice of words and economy of words and simplicity also work very well when your point is forceful. They also tend to have recourse to tricks supposed to be inventive, like making endless sentences in which they and we may get lost, deleting punctuation, which may be very misleading for the reader, or creating jarring images, all in the name of poetic licence. Poetic licence cannot be invoked to justify [your work if] you don’t master the language. It is my conviction that authors must know where they lead their readers, even in poetry. Letting the readers find a meaning to your texts sounds to me like a justification for not really knowing what you mean. Forgetting to systematically self-edit texts is also a common weakness. But these are only beginners’ issues. Most of the poets I happen to read master the language with incredible creativity and pleasant inventiveness.

KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?

Poirson: Online platforms like Kreative Diadem, that create communities of poets, are obviously initiatives to be admired, encouraged and celebrated. The aim consisting in providing an audience with opportunities to share their creations and be published…and read! must be lauded indeed. “To inform, educate, entertain and inspire” young minds through literature is what fights ignorance and violence best in this crazy world. Just never stop!!!!

 

KD: Any Final words?

Poirson: In consistence with what I mentioned before, allow me to state that we reinvent ourselves with every word we write. We keep experimenting literature and the world inside and outside ourselves, and the next word is always the first. So, I’ll let you mull over this line that concluded a French poem I wrote years ago as an epitaph and which could translate into this:
      “My very last word was: it is only my first.”                                                                               
Keep shining, and thanks for the opportunity!           

 

Isolation

Our third issue ever, "Isolation" is out. We had thought-provoking conversations with Alexis Teyie and Tobi Nifesi. It's a collection of works from some of the finest minds out there -- poetry, short stories, interviews, and creative essays.

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 - 2020 Kreative Diadem. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

FOLLOW US

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