Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Lailah Saafir

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Lailah Saafir

Lailah Saafir was born in Jackson, Mississippi on September 20th. She was raised as a Muslim until the age of 14, then was raised as a Christian. At that time, she began writing poetry. She spent most of her younger years acting in plays and short films. Lailah also did public speaking about AIDS awareness. In her 30s is when she really began writing again. She was inspired by her daughter to write more about her experiences. Lailah currently lives in Arlington, Texas. Her first ebook was published in March 2018, entitled Full Mood.

The Interview

What inspired you to write poetry?

When I was 14 years old, I tried to commit suicide. I didn’t feel like I could really talk about my feelings so writing allowed me to express myself.
Who introduced you to poetry?

My drama teacher introduced me to poetry, allowing me to read Shakespeare, Longfellow and Wordsworth. I was immediately drawn to everything that I was reading. I really just wanted to express myself the way these people were expressing themselves.

How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I wasn’t very aware of the dominating presence of older poets. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I became aware of the presence of older poets.

What is your daily writing routine?

I try to write for at least 2 hours a day. I begin reading, followed by brainstorming, then writing.

What motivates you to write?

Many emotions motivate me to write, including pain, suffering, happiness, and interactions with and observations of other people.

What is your work ethic?

My work ethic includes studying God, nature, and other people. Out of that, I write down what my experiences are and then I try to refine them so that others can relate. Sometimes I have to go over these experiences twenty something times until I find the essence of what I want to share.

How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

Maya Angelou influenced me to share the deepest feelings that I have. Other poets who also influenced me, caused me to examine behavior on a deeper level, trying to get to the source of humanity.

Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I admire Natasha Trethewey because of her vision and her experience with the sides of two races. My daughter is also biracial so this gives me a better understanding of her. Mark Antony Rossi is another writer I admire because he speaks straight from the heart and is very relatable. Scott Thomas Outlar is also a writer I admire, for the fire in his belly.

Why do you write?

I write to keep my sanity. I also write so that I can express myself without being judged face to face. In addition, I write so that I can look back at things and see how far I have come. Lastly, I write to relate to others.

What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I don’t believe that you “become” a writer, you either are or you aren’t. That’s not to say that we can’t improve on our writing, but I don’t think it is something you are only taught.

Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I am working on another book of poetry and a volume of short stories.


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