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.
Christena AV Williams
is a multiple award-winning Author, Poet, International Anthologist, Inner child Press International Cultural ambassador, Historian and Philosopher. Her Book, “Pearls among Stones” was awarded Prime Ministers National Youth Awards for excellence in Arts and Culture. Also, Youth empowerment award from Jamaican Youth empowerment through culture, arts and nationalism, (JAYECAN). She is also the author of Black Gold for which her poem, “Stone cold sinner” was a finalist in Hessler street fair poetry Anthology, Cleveland, Ohio and Out from Babylon System: Liberation of Mind.
Some of her publications includes only to name a few are: Gleaner newspaper, Jamaica, Poetry NZ 47, New Zealand, Tuck magazine, Female first write be share be read, 2014 winner, reflection mag, India, shortlisted in Desmond O’ Grady poetry competition in Ireland, shortlisted in jaBlog! Junior authors poetry contest, L3 Magazine, Also among top 30 in World Healing, World Peace poetry anthology by Inner child Press in USA. When she is not writing you will find her volunteering for she is closely linked to organizations such as Manifesto Jamaica, Positive org and JAYECAN.
1. When and why did you start writing poetry?
I grew up reading a lot of books because it was all I had. It was not so long ago in my country that kids’ enjoyed reading and we played outdoors making box trucks, kites and playing football and running, however, a part from those I was always a reader. I began writing at age ten and it was done naturally. As I was a child who was very shy and had lot of doubts, fears and felt abandoned by my father who left when I was two years of age. I received a lot of discrimination because of it and so I wanted an outlet to release these hurt and pain. Further reasons were that my family and I were very poor so for three and half years without running water or electricity, house in arrears and many times without food so what we endured made me write even more. As I grew older I became radical because of political uneasiness and injustice in my country. So now I am a poetical activist who saw poetry as a tool of activism and a transporter of education.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I would not say introduced more like who strengthened my interest has I was always writing poetry naturally without even knowing what it was. However, I recall listening to the reasoning’s and performance of Rastafari Dub poet and Philosopher Mutabaruka who had me revolutionized. Later, I got deeply inspired and in love when I read poetry from Maya Angelou. I recalled feeling as If she was talking to me face to face, it resonated with me, only few poets can make me cry or touch my soul so deep. So with this over flow of emotions, thoughts and reading enthusiasm therefore led me to the works of Jamaican poet Louise Bennett Coverley who spread our patois(Native language) to the world, Emily Dickson, Langston Hughes, Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, Cherry Natural, Yasus Afari and Oku Onoura.
3. How aware are you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?
Jamaica is a very highly cultural place with African ancestry, British and other colonial heritages which influences our literary. So while at school you would be required to recite poems. Also, many people where I live always had their radio on so you heard a lot of poets who now are considered legends and veterans in the business. Later in classes such as English language and English literature it was the recommended reads of Chaucer, Keats, William Shakespeare, Wilde, Wordsworth, and Claude Mckay and Derek Walcott.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I would not say it is my routine but these things I love doing and it encourages my writing. So reading all types of materials, listening roots reggae, neo soul, and afro beat music, watching detective mystery shows like Matlock and Murder she wrote and the Saint. Reasoning with friends and family about issues in my country and the world, then finally, I sit in my room reflecting of what I did, said or what happened overall. I love to self-reflect as it is a purifying process. I can write anywhere on anything. It is not something forced I have to be inspired to write. Poetry is natural for me and it is raw emotions.
5. What motivates you to write?
Writing poetry is a God-given gift so I am always inspired and motivated to do it. It is in my DNA, blood, pumping through my lungs, heart soul, body and Mind. It is just bursting out of me. My motivation is provoked by human injustices, music, aesthetics, art, stereotypes, Individuality, movies, a cocked ear (ease drop) of someone conversations, nature, religion, philosophy, just life itself is a motivation. I am a living, breathing individual who has opinions and views and I want to challenge stagnant regimes and ideologies and it is through this medium utilized to stand my ground. I am young and curious so I want to read a lot, garner knowledge and discuss them with others so I can gain clarity in hope of finding truth. In the end I want to leave a mark that I existed and no one is going to write your narrative. So only I can tell my story that when I leave earth others can read my works same as how I read others feeling inspired and motivated.
6. What is your work ethic?
In everything it requires discipline so I am always researching, surfing the net and social Media for opportunities to be in anthology or on a stage show or some volunteer project. Also, I am always practicing on my phone of audio performances. Writing is hard so I am always reading, writing and practicing for the best version of my work. One has to be mentally tough too because more than likely rejection will be many so I pray Jah for mental health to be fit and secure and of course healthy food to match the ethic.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
They are the foundation so with strong quality writers to emulate one can only be as great as they are or aspire to be. I am definitely empowered and proud of poets who challenge stigmas or stereotypes and break barriers to be heard. So today I am very revolutionary in thoughts and poetry. My body of work when critiqued is said to be very rich, mixed and versatile of multiple varied styles and forms.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I love all types of writers. I am very much in tuned with Yasus Afari for informative, wit and sound power. Cherry Natural is a very lyrical lioness, she has a lot of wit about her and her stage performance is definitely something to bask in. Mutabaruka is my all-time favourite poet who disseminate edutainment (education + entertainment) he is very witty, bold, vocal and revolutionary. Other younger poets such as Jah 9 and Chronixx while they are singers I see them as excellent song writers, poets and performers, and Kolade freedom from Nigeria and Orette burke from Jamaica. Lastly, a poet who I hold dearly, Alan Jankowski, May his soul R.I.P.
9. Why I write?
My writing stems from my soul and emerges from my heart
Pumps through my lungs as it aperture through my veins
Bursting out of me, alas, I am free
So all those dreams and pain were real
Can you feel them? Can you relate to them?
Therefore, you wish to know why I write
Poetry is the cotton clouds that evaporate my tears
I write because I am broken
Haunted by things of Hades
So you ask, why I write
I write because it is a reflection of me on paper.
Poem from (Black Gold)
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Read, Read, Read a lot, write a lot too, do not be afraid to ask for help for when you realize your weakness, watch other writers on YouTube or if you are ready, join a writers group and ask for advice and critique. Be very strong, committed and discipline. Never stop writing. Success does not come overnight nor was Rome built in day, so practice becomes natural. Being a writer in my opinion is also a spiritual thing so it is your soul that manifest itself so I say secure your soul and let it speak freely.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
Currently working on two audio recordings for Drystone Radio, UK, An upcoming programme by Juleus Ghunta, and preparing for Jamaican Poets school and college tour organized by Malachi Smith. For further information about my works it is accessible via
Facebook, Christena Williams, https://www.facebook.com/worldclasspoet
Amazon, Pearls Among Stones, https://www.amazon.com/Pearls-Among-Stones-christena-williams/dp/1507600453
Amazon, Black Gold, https://www.amazon.com/Black-Gold-christena-AV-williams/dp/1987616510
Amazon, Out from Babylon system: Liberation of mind, https://www.amazon.com/Out-Babylon-system-Liberation-Mind/dp/1515138178
Book Review of Out from Babylon system: Liberation of mind, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/art-leisure/20180916/book-review-poets-defiance-stirs-imagination
Book Review of Black Gold, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/art-leisure/20180819/book-review-cries-anguish-cries-hope-voice-christena-williams
Book Review of Pearls Among Stones, https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/pearls-among-stones
Another Review of Pearls Among Stones, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140427/arts/arts2.html