Interviewer: Uduak-Estelle Akpan
knowing the writer
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Way back in high school, 2012, I discovered I had a gift. It came natural for me to write. I remember I really enjoyed writing essays, letters, poems, and things of that nature.
Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day to you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard?
For me it comes differently. When I want to write, I experience things differently. For example, I could pick a pen and paper to write and literally pour out my all in that paper, and sometimes I’ll have to think deep, write a draft and then go back to it later. In addition, I would say I prefer to write on paper than on keyboard because that’s the origin of me writing. I started writing this way and I have to keep it this way. You can call me old school.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Me ability to focus on my mind regardless of my surroundings or whatever situation going on.
What Nigerian authors do you like to read and what books have had a strong influence on your writing?
I love reading Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, Nnedi Okorafor, JP Clark, Lenrie Peters and UwemAkpan.
b) Books like:
What does your family think of your writing?
My mum and dad know that I am writer and my sisters take writing lessons from me.
Do you have any writing rituals?
For some weird reasons, I always put myself in a sad state before I write. We can say the ink in my pen flows more with that energy.
At what point does your love for photography, background in mechanical engineering and writing converge?
These three aspect of my life converge during my creative process.
the creative process
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve been on several literary pilgrimages. The first one ever was from 2012-2016. In that period I was in journey with poetry, I was trying to discover myself as a poet. Now I’m on a journey to discover myself as a short story writer.
Do you think that being solitary makes a great writer?
It is generally assumed that a good poem must have a hidden message; what, in your opinion, makes a good poem?
In my opinion a good poem is easily relatable and understood by the readers, each reader finding their own meaning to the poem.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Are there specific goals or causes you bear in mind while writing?
My aim when writing is to make the readers relate with what I am talking about.
What do reviews from readers mean to you?
I mean the world because it tells me people are actually reading what I put out there and it’s more amazing if the reviews are positive, I mean everyone loves positive reviews.
Do you try more to be original or you write solely to deliver what the readers want?
I try more to be original because I want my opinion to leave an impact in the hearts of the readers.
Does writing exhaust or energize you?
Writing gives me life so we can say it energizes me.
Why “As I Stroke my Chin Hairs” as the title?
It represents my growth as a writer in the sense that, as you mature as an human being, you begin to ask questions, have opinions about different things and why are the way they are.
Does this maiden collection have a backstory you would love to share?
No, there’s no backstory.
Did As I Stroke my Chin Hairs teach you any lesson about yourself as a person or a writer?
Yes, my favourite poem from the collection “If A Lion In The Savannah” reminds me of the struggles we face as humans and how we can overcome them.
The poems “War is looming…”, “Here’s to Nigeria…” and “Poems of Green and White” all point to Nigeria’s unfortunate state of discord and rot; apart from making art out of these realities, what do you think Nigerian writers could do to push for change?
Nigeria writers should shed more light on the ugly situations going on in the country.
What was your experience, writing the sensual poem, “Her Dance”?
I wrote this poem in 2012, perhaps at that time, I felt like falling in love.
Are there poems in “As I stroke my Chin Hairs” inspired by real persons? If there are, what do you owe these persons while writing?
Yes ,there are about three poems inspired by real people and I owed them my authenticity.
What surprised you the most in writing and publishing this chapbook?
The love and support I got in process of its production and outcome.
Talk about your least favourite poem of the collection.
My least favourite poem “Runway Girl” is a little bit mechanical.
Are there hidden secrets in this collection that only a few people can find?
Yes there are.
If you had to do something differently to make the process of writing this book easier, what would it be?
I wish I had a larger network and access to information on how to publish.
the future projections
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a collections of short stories.
Will it always be poetry for you or do you nurse plans to explore other genres?
Yes, I have plans to explore other genres.
A published author once said to an aspiring author…
“Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is - peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform.”
More about the author
Joseph’s literary role model is Chinua Achebe, and while writing poetry, he draws inspiration from life, love, politics, and the society. He aims to inspire people with his poems and influence the world of African literature.