“Poetry Has Been a Balm and a Companion” – Interview with Abdulmueed Balogun
Kreative Diadem is known for its Annual Creative Writing Contest, demonstrating our commitment to young writers’ literary growth across Africa and beyond. We recently chatted with last year’s poetry winner—Abdulmueed Balogun.
Abdulmueed Balogun is a Nigerian poet & a second-year student at the University of Ibadan, studying Biomedical Laboratory Science. He is a 2021 HUES Foundation Scholar & edits poetry for The Global Youth Review. He was longlisted for the 2021 Erbacce Prize, finished as a Finalist in the 2021 Wingless Dreamer Book of Black Poetry Contest, and won the 2021 Annual Kreative Diadem Poetry Contest. Find his work in Journal of Expressive Writing, Decolonial Passage, Watershed Review, The Westchester Review, Short Vine, Subnivean Magazine, Alchemy Literary Magazine, Soundings East Magazine, ROOM, Jmww Journal, Night Heron Barks Review, Bowery Gothic, Avalon Literary Review and elsewhere. He loves you deeply, and you know it. He tweets from AbdmueedA.
Kreative Diadem: Who is Abdulmueed Balogun? Tell us briefly about yourself.
Abdulmueed: I am a Muslim, a poet, a poetry editor at The Global Youth Review, and an undergrad at the University of Ibadan studying Biomedical Laboratory Science.
Winner of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Content (Poetry Category)
KD: When did you first discover your passion for writing, and what inspired you?
Abdulmueed: My journey as a poet started in, I think, 2018. I can’t nail my source of inspiration to a definite outlet. I was passing through a lot of things then and urgently needed a way out of the looming wilderness. The numerous unappealing events that clouded the sky of my fledgling life then endeared me to poetry. Since then, Poetry has been a balm and a companion.
KD: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer, and what steps do you take to overcome them?
Abdulmueed: There’s nothing worthy bereft of challenges. Poetry too isn’t an exception. Of the challenges, I face the most prominent– inaccessibility to the desired books necessary for growth. I overcome them by visiting my Uncle– Fasasi Abdulrosheed– to cart away some books, or download softcopies and occasionally I visit bookshops.
KD: What are some literary figures that inspire you and your work?
Abdulmueed: Literary figures I look up to are Khalil Gibran, David Diop, Oswald Mtshali, Lucille Clifton, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Mary Oliver, Mahmoud Darwish, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Rasaq Malik, Sonia Sanchez, Akeem Lasisi, Kofi Awoonor…
“To young writers like myself, I say– keep writing those poems, your voice is unique. Don’t compromise the essence of your craft, and dread not reaching beyond the sky.”
KD: In 2021, you won first prize in the poetry category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?
Abdulmueed: Honestly, I was very happy. When I saw the email, I had to re-read it to truly affirm its veracity.
KD: Let’s get down to your poem. What was the inspiration behind IT’S HOPE THAT KEEPS THE FLAME OF DREAMS DANCING? Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to your readers?
Abdulmueed: Primarily, the inspirations behind the poem are my parents. My dad, like my momma, occasionally sits me down and hammers some admonition words into my youthful ears, urging me to never trivialize the dictates of my creator.
Yes. There’s a specific message in the poem. Our society today has become an eyesore. It takes a resolute mind not to succumb to the pressure weighing in from peers who have, in their minds, arsoned morals. The poem is a chant of hope written when I found myself drowning.
KD: Apart from winning first prize in the poetry contest in 2021, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc.?)
Runner up: November 2020 Reform Naija Writing Contest– Freewill.
Honourable Mention: 2021 Whispering Crescent Poetry Prize.
Longlisted: 2021 Erbarcce-Prize
Finalist: 2021 Wingless Dreamer Book of Black Poetry Contest.
KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer?
Abdulmueed: Fellowships, Residency, and lots more.
KD: Any forthcoming works or publications?
Abdulmueed: Yes. I am always working on poems. Right now, I am trying to compile my debut chapbook.
KD: What advice would you give young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?
Abdulmueed: To young writers like myself, I say– keep writing those poems your voice is unique, don’t compromise the essence of your craft, and dread not reaching beyond the sky.
KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?
Abdulmueed: Nothing below wonderful.
KD: Any final words?
Abdulmueed: Thank you for making this possible.