Konya Shamsrumi: What is the
process of writing a poem like for you? Is it a lot of hard work or easy?
Jacqui the Poet: I’m not sure if there’s a process. I actually
don’t write a lot… Poems manifest when the time dictates, mine is to ensure
the ground is fertile. Sometimes, poems, or messages, pass me by as I’m either
not listening or not being in a state of being healthy fertile ground. I’ve
been rocky ground too and have had birds come and pick the seed up and go plant
it elsewhere. For me, poetry is not an assignment or a write-on-demand
vocation. It’s a calling, one I sometimes question, oftentimes ignore but when
I do answer its always magical.
So, I can’t say
whether it’s easy or hard, I’m not sure it’s that simplistic, but I do know
that I’ve aborted many a poem that now
lay in tombs in the form of notebook-filled suitcases, hard drives and memory
sticks. If a poem does not stick in my head within about three days of its
birth, I simply leave it in one of the above tombs. To date, there’s only several
poems that have stayed in my memory.
Konya Shamsrumi: Please describe
your sense of identity in this or any possible world in imagery or metaphor?
Jacqui the Poet: I’m simply a note in an eternal orchestra.
Mine is to constantly watch the conductor, who is God which I deem Love
Unconditional, and wait for my name to be called to God’s service. That service
for me is pursuit of complete liberation for myself, and in the process, for
other individuals who may be inspired or benefit from experiencing or witnessing
my own journey in the pursuit of Uhuru, and from whom in a multitude of ways I
A note alone makes
no music, so I’m aware of other notes and I thank God that I’m able to
recognize and hear this celestial music in others’ expressions of themselves.
In fact, I’m fuelled by it.
Konya Shamsrumi: If any of your
poems could literarily save a person’s life, which poem would it be and can you
describe the person whose life you think it would have saved?
Jacqui the Poet: I think all my poems could save someone’s life
at different times in their lives. My poems are prayers. However, if I was to
choose one, I would choose my most recent poem, Children Of The Light.
It’s a decade old but everything I’ve written afterwards has simply not stuck
in my memory. It came from the solar plexus and I had to burn and like the
Phoenix rise again in order to birth it, I’m afraid I haven’t been brave enough
to dip into the realms of the gods in that manner again. All my poems after
this come from the mind and a couple from the heart, but this one came from the
spirit. I believe it could save others as it opens spiritual eyes and has saved
my own life countless times.
Konya Shamsrumi: What does
Africa mean to you, as potential or reality?
Jacqui the Poet: Africa is the Origin. Africa is the heart of
humanity. Africa is the last who shall be first… Again, and again.
One of my poems that
lives in the tombs is titled ‘Africa’, I have not committed it to memory but I
remember this line from it that I think sums up my view of my
'On this land/ I don't doubt/ The foundations of paradise will be found'
Konya Shamsrumi: Could you share
with us one poem you’ve been most impressed or fascinated by? Tell us why and
share favourite lines from it.
Jacqui the Poet: Ben Okri’s To An English Friend In Africa certainly springs to mind.
I have never had a
soul speak to the entire Trinity of my Being quite like this poem. It’s
beautiful, man! This guy drops pearls ever so gently and yet when the Truth of
his words hit, a furnace in the Self is lit.
The first line…
'Be grateful for freedom / To see other dreams.'
I mean come on man!
That’s life right there! That’s my journey right there… In a single opening
line, I was hooked!
He opens the 3rd
stanza with a line that has become my Life’s motto…
'Live while you are alive.'
Jesus! five words.
Just five words and the heart rate increases, blood pumps right to the head and
the pupils dilate! Third Eye opening stuff…
And then a few lines
later in the same stanza he launches a silent missile…
'Learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit.'
This one is
undeniably my favourite line. Need I say more? He doesn’t say in your spirit,
he says in the SEED… The seed! Haai man, this line goes in, this is the kind
of line that makes grounds fertile, so to speak.
The entire piece
hits the spots but other lines that stand out in the poem include…
'Never forget to pray and be thankful'
'Fear not for death is not the real terror, but life - magically is'
'Love demands the best in us. To always and in time overcome the worst and lowest in our souls'
'It is love alone that is the greatest weapon and the deepest and hardest secret.
So fear not, my friend. The darkness is gentler than you think.'
Richard Ali is a Nigerian writer whose poems were first published in 2008. He has served in the National EXCO of the Association of Nigerian Authors and sits on the board of Uganda’s Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. A member of the Jalada Writers Cooperative based in Nairobi, his work has been published in African Writing, Jalada, Saraba Magazine and elsewhere. The Anguish and Vigilance of Things is his debut collection, was published in 2020. He practices Law in Abuja, Nigeria.