Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Michael Akuchie

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.

41.+Michael+Akuchie

Michael Akuchie

is an Igbo-Esan-born emerging poet currently studying English and Literature at the University of Benin, Nigeria. An Orison Anthology nominee, his poems have previously appeared on Collective Unrest, Impossible Task, Kreative Diadem, Kissing Dynamite, Anomaly, TERSE and elsewhere. He is on Twitter as @Michael_Akuchie. He is the author of a micro-chap, “Calling out Grief“, recently published by Ghost City Press. He is a Contributing Editor and Editorial Assistant at Barren Magazine and Nantygreens respectively

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

To answer this, I must return to my High School days. That was when I came across African poems in a copy of The West African Verse, an anthology of poetry authored by a number of stellar poets of West African Verse. Okogbule Wonodi’s “August Rain” did more than fascinate me. It urged me to try my own version & even though it has been many years ago, I still return to Wonodi’s poem. It has become a form of ritual, a kind of fellowship that only my body can appreciate. I read the works of T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes and a host of others. The way they all found infallible ways to mean so much in verse intrigued me and opened my eyes to the wonders of language & those who can operate it.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I did. I drew myself to this craft, to this endless churning upon churning of meaning of one’s existence through the aid of verse.

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I was aware a lot. Art is an imitation of life. In some way or the other I have looked up to the established voices above me & craved a bit of their energy. I am merely an emerging voice that’s miles away from finding my true form or niche in the craft.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Leila Chatti, a fine contemporary poet said that she strives to write two poems daily. I try to commit to this goal & produce two rough (or not so rough) drafts that I will workshop with some trusted friends afterwards. Sometimes life happens and I cannot keep to this daily demand but still, I find a way. I find a way.

5. What motivates you to write?

A lot of things and people. I read a lot of works from a large number of poets, both established and emerging. I subscribe to Poetry Foundation & The Academy of American Poets’ newsletters respectively. I am proud of a peculiar tribe of writer friends whose drive and energy always manage to rub off on me myself. I must thank Nome Emeka Patrick, Adedayo Agarau, Wale Ayinla for being a regular source for determination and persistence as regards writing poems and surviving.

6. What is your work ethic?

Ha-ha. I try my best to discipline my body and ensure that I commit two hours daily to my craft but social media can get in the way sometimes & I may fail to write. Still, the goal is be disciplined, to produce the drafts and stay off chat applications for that period. I wish it was that easy though.

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

They still have special places in the depth of my heart. From time to time I read their poems and feel a certain rush that words can’t exactly express. I belong to that feeling forever.

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

This question scares me the most. There are a lot of names to call out so here’s my basic list: Romeo Oriogun, Sam Sax, Jennifer Chang, Pamilerin Jacob, Chelsea Dingman, Susan Leary, Anointing Obuh, JK Anowe, Logan February, Nome Patrick, Ade Agarau, Tiana Clark, Prince Bush, Laura M. Kaminski, Taiye Ojo, Itiola Jones and a lot more fabulous voices.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I was raised in an environment that had a lot of books around and I was curious enough to spend most of my childhood buried in between the lines of novels. I write to fulfil an inner ache, a quest to document all that I encounter in this life of too many complexities and uncertainties. Writing for me is therapy and every poem written is a step closer to an eventual happiness.

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

Read, damn it. Read like a madman. Read with a voracious appetite. Question the norms. Don’t be afraid of the system so much that you become unwilling to its flaws. Write too. A lot. Get involved in a circle of friends who are crazy about writing or form one yourself. Write. Share. Learn. Be humble. Grow. Be human.

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

Ah, I have a finished chapbook manuscript that I have submitted to a set of presses. I’m hopeful but I’m aware of possible rejections so life goes on, I guess.

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