Konya Shamsrumi: What is the process of writing a poem like for you? Is it a lot of hard work or easy?
Nick Igbokwe: I consider the process of writing a poem both easy and hard work. It is easy in the sense that it is from my heart, it’s what I do and it’s how I do what I do. However, it is hard due to the fact that every single poem I write is aimed at capturing the imagination of a reader, using a new register of words and not confusing them with a bunch of new stuff I learnt during my research process. I try never to alienate my reader.
Writing a poem is in three stages for me. First, I find a concept which I would love to write about. Thanks to social media this is very easy as I can just open the Twitter application and boom, inspiration stares at me in the face. After I have gotten the necessary inspiration to spur me on to write then I proceed to open a document file on my mobile phone and I just freestyle and write words that come instantly to my head. This is the really fun part as once I’m inspired, I write so much that step three is always the heartbreaking part. Step three of my writing process is after I’ve written off the top of my head it’s now time to edit and check out grammatical errors and cut off words that can potentially alienate my reader. What’s the point of writing if your audience cannot relate to your art?
Konya Shamsrumi: Please describe your sense of identity in this or any possible world in imagery or metaphor?
Nick Igbokwe: Poetry has served as a medium for me to convey my thoughts and views about world issues and contemporary affairs from the comfort of my home or library. Hence, I feel there is a need to give back to poetry for the exposure it has given to me. As such, every single poem I write is an opportunity to “go hard” and give my audience a sense of intimacy as if I’m in a room speaking directly to them. I consider my poems a blank canvas, once I write the first word that blank canvas has the potential to be a masterpiece and as soon as I’ve made the last punctuation, then I can go up against just about anybody in the field. Why settle for little when you can shoot for the stars and land on angel wings?
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?
Nick Igbokwe: If any of my poems could literally save a person’s life which would it be? This question is perfectly tailored to suit a poem I wrote during the spike in student suicide rates over poor grades in my institution of study, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. I wrote a poem titled To Whoever Is Hurtin‘. The poem is quite lengthy compared to my other work but I felt the need to make it as much an open letter because a reader might be going through some really hard stuff. An excerpt of the poem is—
Drop that illicit mixture! Pour it down the drain and look away, Erase your mind from the copper belt, Please loosen the nuzzle. Your family loves you no matter what, Look at this an open letter, About perseverance, And thriving despite the circumstance. - To Whoever Is Hurtin' by Igbokwe NickClick here
A real life story of a life that this poem saved exists. An acquaintance going through the tough aspects of the life of a student felt the world caving in on her. I sent this poem as well as a set of other poems of a different nature. A day later, she sent a message to me via WhatsApp on how the poem was what she needed to keep her going at that point in time. That to me was a significant writing breakthrough, one that I’m immensely grateful to God for.
Konya Shamsrumi: What does Africa mean to you, as potential or reality?
Nick Igbokwe: Africa is the best continent on planet Earth. If you look at the most beautiful things in the world, they can all be traced to Africa. We all marvel about the beautiful music that comes out of America, just check it out majority of it comes from amazing African Americans with beautiful dark skin tones. Africa has contributed so much to the world without being properly credited but it’s just a matter of time.
Africa is my home and the best place to create. If you’re looking for inspiration it’s just outside your doorstep and sometimes it lies in the amazing proverbs and words of wisdom that you get from your father and mother. People might say that Africa is in the doldrums of world affairs but it’s simply a matter of time. Beautiful things are happening here in Africa and the world isn’t even ready for all the fire coming out of our motherland.
Konya Shamsrumi: Could you share with us one poem you’ve been most impressed or fascinated by? Tell us why and share favorite lines from it.
Nick Igbokwe: A lot of poems have inspired me over the years since I actively got involved in this genre of literature in the sixth grade. However, none hit me as much as Boy on a Swing by Oswald Mtshali. I read this poem in SS1 and it was the first poem I memorized in its entirety. All the lines impressed and fascinated me—
Boy on a Swing - Oswald Mtshali Slowly he moves to and fro, to and fro, then faster and faster he swishes up and down. His blue shirt billows in the breeze like a tattered kite The world whirls by: east becomes west, north turns to south; the four cardinal points meet in his head. Mother! Where did I come from? When will I wear long trousers? Why was my father jailed?
Back then in my secondary school days I just loved the wordplay and the imagination in this piece but now that I am older, wiser and living in a world where there is so much systematic racism and neo-colonialism I can now understand what Mr. Mtshali was saying. It is truly powerful and sets a benchmark as to what my works should aspire to preach. Slowly, Nick moves on, to and fro, to and fro…
Writer, poet, and student Nick Igbokwe is a lover of hip hop music and a popular culture enthusiast. Nick hails from Anambra State in Nigeria and he resides in Osun State, Nigeria. His debut anthology is PASSION, PAIN AND DEMON SLAYIN’ and he is putting finishing touches on a sequel.
He is a part of the writing collective Mans Way of Seeing Things, a creative home of writers, bloggers and art enthusiasts. Nick writes most of his poems on his couch listening to Hip Hop. He can be contacted via his social media handles, notably Twitter and Instagram by the username @_nothingnobody and you could check out his blog www.unorthodoxjukeboxxx.blogspot.com