Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Rihan Mustapha

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.

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Rihan Mustapha

is the author of ‘For a Spectacular Friend’ and ‘Prose and Poetry for My Phenomenal Daddy.’ The former is a dedication to dear friend of hers who died suffering from cancer. The latter is a special tribute to her late father. Moreover, she has contributed to 3 poetry books for children and contributed to a book about love and New York. She holds an MA in Applied Linguistics & TESOL and a Diploma in Translation. She has been working mostly in teaching and occasionally in translation. A big fan of both self and professional development and has a passion for languages and different cultures.

My Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MyWordsinPro…(less)

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

A dear friend’s poetry inspired me to write. I was impressed by his heartfelt poems in English; I decided to start writing my own. I appreciated his writings and told him that I wanted to write poems too. Then, I started my journey of experimenting with words, phrases, stanzas and rhymes.

And here I am. With lots of friends’ help and encouragement, my sweet dream has come partially true. I am looking forward to polishing my style and trying to write various kinds of poetry.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

We studied few poems in my native language (i.e. Arabic) back in school, but the first time I was introduced to poetry was when I visited my uncle in Lebanon. He showed me his bookcase and invited me to read whatever I like. I found loads of poetry volumes in Arabic. I took one of these books whose dominating theme was love, and I started to read one poem after the other. I enjoyed reading the poems but never thought of writing poetry at that time.

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

I studied about some of them in college, such as Poe, Shakespeare, John Donne, William Yeats, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, to mention a few. I liked to read and to analyse lots of their works. Every and each one of them added something special to the poetry realm. I think that some of the modern poets look up to them.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I do not have a specific daily routine as at times when I am overwhelmed by job tasks, I write nothing. I usually take a fifteen-minute break to write in the evening. If ideas flow smoothly, I continue writing. If not, I stop and do anything else I like (watching a movie, translating, learning a language, and the like).

5. What motivates you to write?

It is basically a state of emotion that drives me to compose poetry. I write when I feel sad, happy, grateful, angry, etc.

6. What is your work ethic?

I may summarize my work ethic in few points:

• being honest,
• being determined
• valuing hard work
• showing respect to my fellow poets and poetesses

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

I was aware that every writer has his/her own writing style. I was impressed by how ‘love’ was described differently by different writers. Every description was beautiful in its own way. Therefore, I have decided to have my own distinctive touch in poetry. I am still working on finding my way through that.

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

Honestly, I do not have a favorite modern writer. I like what I read and feel or can relate to no matter who wrote it. I have joined some poetry groups on Facebook. It makes me smile to read the pieces that my fellow poets/poetesses write there. I appreciate their poems as they inspire me to write.

9. Why do you write?

It is amazing how transferring part of my ideas and emotions onto a piece of paper makes me feel happy. It changes my bad mood into a better one. It transfers my-already-good mood into a better one as well.

Besides, it is a unique experience, where my imagination swims in the ocean of words.

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

I am not sure if I can answer this question as I think people are not the same. What makes someone a writer is not necessarily the same thing that will make you a writer.

I can talk about what worked for me (when I first started):

• I tended to arrange and rearrange my words in a certain way to make them look or sound better.
• I tried writing a simple piece first. I liked it and wrote others.
• I loved it, so I made up my mind and went for it.
• I did lots of reading to discover what I did like.
• I asked close friends for feedback.

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

Should not that be a secret ?

I had an outline for my new poetry book ready few months ago, but I had to put it on hold due to some circumstances. Hopefully, I will be able to complete it in 2019.

Also, I am thinking of joint poetry projects. Details will be revealed later.

* * *

Thank you very much, Paul. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Good day to you!

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