November 17, 2009

iScribe Interview Series - Taking the Heat, Staying in the Kitchen, Tackling Topics Close to Home

Name: Samuel D. Aboh, Jr.
Major(s): English
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009)

Coming from so far away, how did you end up at URI?
Because Brown did not accept me and Bryant came to seem boring.

How much of your political past plays into your writing?
A lot! Coming from Africa I have seen a lot of corruption, a lot of which has to do with our own countries’ leaders but also from foreign influences as well. I never had a voice as a child but my conscience has become something of a nag as an adult and so a lot of what I have seen and endured politically - civil war, shabby and corrupt elections, etc plays into my writing. I write so that I can also nag and beat at someone else’s conscience.

Is there anything about "How to Make Palava" specifically that you'd like to share?
Indeed! Don’t get me wrong, I love my African people, but so much of what is going on in Africa today is the fault of the African himself (even though we would like to blame others, foreign corporation and powers and such )- we (I say “we” because I am African) are not each other’s keepers. We seldom stop to think about the welfare of each other, which blinds us to how much influence we can have if someday we can unite as one - if someday we can think about how to serve our fellow neighbors (we are neighbors for Christ’s sake - Africa is what, 53 countries strong?) instead of trying to fulfill our own personal agendas. It is the greed and vainglory our African leaders; the strife and conflict that surrounds every African, the indifference we harbor when we see things going wrong but don’t care to do anything (simply because it not affecting one country yet) about it even though we share he same continent, that drove me to write this poem.

The word "palava" has many different usages, as we see in your poem feature in this edition of The Independent Scribe. Are all of these definitions common, or is one more prevalent than the others?
Yes. To use palava to refer to trouble or some sort of problem or disruption is more prevalent where I come from. Palava could happen in the market place when women fight over space to sell their food stock, when people fight about the last drop of water in the well, the nosy neighbor refuses to mind his/her own business, etc.

Do you have any other creative outlets? Do you write prose as well, or solely poetry?
Indeed. I am currently working on a book, a memoir of some sort to chronicle my life from civil war - Liberia to Ghana, to America. I have tried writing songs, since I am a singer as well, but let’s just say that it needs more work.

After you graduate, do you plan on continuing to write?
Yes, I plan to continue to do just that.

What was your first introduction, formal or otherwise, to poetry?
My first introduction to poetry was when I took an ENG 205 course, about one year ago. I really loved the course. I always left the class with a smile on my face and hungry for more.

I'm sure you know by now that everyone who hears you speak is entranced by your accent. Given that, it has to be asked-- can we expect to hear you read at the November launch event?
Yes, I would Love to read. Will I be reading just one or can I bring other poems I have written?

Is there any methodology to your writing? Is there a particular place you need to be in, physical or otherwise?
I am very nocturnal. Ideas seem to rush to me at the early hours of the morning. I like to lie quietly in bed with my note pad on my computer desk and every now and then, when I receive a vision I will rush over to the desk and write it down. It is such a thrill.

If you had to pick just one literary figure to accompany you to a week-long retreat, who would it be? Why?
John Milton, were he alive. He is simply marvelous. I would also like Morgan Freeman to accompany me. Yes, I know he is not a literary figure, but I thought I’d add that in just in case you guys are in the business of making dreams come true, like Oprah.

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