Chukwudalu Abugu is one of the moderators of POETS IN NIGERIA INITIATIVE group on Facebook. In a conversation with Semilore Kilaso of PIN Literary Interviews, she talks about poetry writing, her experiences as a PIN Moderator, and the place of poetry as a genre of literature in Nigeria.
Abugu Chukwudalu Mariarosa is an emerging writer and poet. She is a 200-level student of Agricultural Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. When she’s not writing she’s listening to music or sleeping. She enjoys volunteering and making new friends.
Chukwudalu is the author of a poetry chapbook, ‘I tried to spell you in clouds and their waters.’ She lives in Onitsha, Anambra state.
- It’s great pleasure having you on this session of PIN Literary Interviews. Please can we meet you?
Mutual feelings. I’m Chukwudalu Abugu, an Agricultural Economics student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I guess I could also call myself a writer and a poet. (Laughs) So, yeah, I’m a writer too.
Apart from writing, I enjoy volunteering, meeting people, learning and sharing knowledge. Currently, I’m one of the moderators of the Poets in Nigeria Initiative group on Facebook.
2. Why do you read and write poetry?
Poetry feels like home, there’s this comfort to it, like the warmth of something familiar and closer. We all tend to relate more to home. That’s why I read poetry.
I write poetry for myself; I like the fact that I could dish out throbbing heart, happy moments on paper. I write to open doors to questions I seek. For liberty, there’s this freedom in wielding your pen, owning it even. It all revolves around me; I write for me.
3. Can you vividly recall the title of the first poem you ever wrote? Tell us about it and how you landed into poetry writing.
Yes, ‘I’m human’ is the title. I watch people come and go, people saddled with enormous expectations, responsibilities, people tired and bended. How they fall because they’re human, and humans are weak. How no one will note that, funny enough not even themselves.
It was about the human condition, a cry for help. Since then, I’ve never stopped writing poetry.
4. As poets, some of us tend to look at stylistics. How would you describe poetry in relation to your style?
Well, I’ve not actually adopted a particular style for my poems. I believe in diversity and creativity, and I tend to explore different styles.
My poems and the style they take, seek to appreciate the world and the human condition.
5. Congratulations on the release of your chapbook “I TRIED TO SPELL YOU IN CLOUDS AND THEIR WATERS”. What was the writing and compilation process like for you?
Oh, thank you. It was quite something. You know, hectic and euphoric. There’s something about poetry that makes you break down and picks you up again. You struggle through swings of mood. Thanks to my elder sister, Ella, and some friends that were always there to lift shoulders.
The end result justifies the whole struggle, doesn’t it?
6. How did you come a member of PIN and a Moderator at the POETS IN NIGERIA INITIATIVE group on Facebook? How has it been volunteering your time and services to Poets in Nigeria?
I got in as a PIN student ambassador sometime in 2019 and after then, I happened to be an active follower of the PIN President, Sir Eriata Oribhabor, on Facebook. Someday he kind of put me to work. I guess I got lucky. (smiles)
Like I mentioned earlier, volunteering is something I enjoy doing, it’s like my effort in building the state. The experience is always fulfilling.
There’s this satisfaction when you’re in the right place even if you experience stress. Like the mutualism interaction, where the two species involved benefits. It’s a fifty/fifty.
7. What is it like moderating a group with over 20,000 poet members? How many posts do you approve daily? What kind of post do you decline?
To be frank, there are days when they’re quite stressful and umm a little time consuming but in all I’ve gotten to interact with different species of people without actually talking to them. I get to read their pen, its flow, its struggle to freedom, the beautiful worlds yet to explore, the ones that may never be. It’s a remarkable experience.
Some days, we get like 300+ posts and 200+ membership request, even more, especially when there’s a new challenge trending. Some other days, there are lesser, mostly on the membership request side
Generally, the group is open to all kinds of poetry as long as they do not go against the group directives. I decline posts that go against the group rules, like poems on racism or ones with really vulgar languages, ones with nude or questionable or irrelevant images.
8. What do you think the readership and members of the group like to read? Are you creating a niche as a moderator?
Overtime, I’ve noticed that the majority tends to relate more to brevity, precise, poems well-spaced, poems easy to relate to, not ambiguous.
Niche? Well, you got me there. That’s a very deep question. I feel it’s not in my place to decide that. What I ever wanted was to ensure that everyone got heard. And like Sir Eriata would always say, ‘every poem is good, no poem is bad.’ It may need working on but it shouldn’t be labelled as bad.
I guess I’ve been doing that.
9. What is your opinion on engaging Social Media as a tool to promote literary art?
Social media is the prevailing fashion, it’s in vogue. It’s doing a good job of connecting thousands of people, diverse cultures, colours, business and a whole other lots together.
It’s a good motivating tool to foster any literary art because you get to reach out to people faster through it.
10. What Nigerian poet(s) do you love to read?
The truth is, I set out writing poetry in 2019 and I’ve not really read a lot of people. I’ve read mostly the contemporary Nigerian poets like Rasaq Malik, Eriata Oribhabor, Romeo Oriogun, Jide Badmus, Kukogho Iruesiri, Agarau, and others.
11. Poetry appreciation is gaining ground in Nigeria. What in your opinion is the place of poetry as a genre of literature in Nigeria? What future? What opportunities for Poets?
That’s so true. It’s in every household, in every business, in Nigeria. Everyone is making up lines for advertisement, poetic lines to sell their products. It’s everywhere, everyone is getting involved. Poetry is gaining enough ground and I believe it’s growing quite relevant. In every celebration like the recent Independence Day celebration in Nigeria, every corner was calling out for lines, and of course, Poetry is showing off its colours as always.
It’s an opportunity for us poets to break ground across other enterprise, make the change we want.
12. What’s your opinion about Poets in Nigeria as a vanguard of poetry renaissance in Nigeria?
I found poetry first, right at its door steps. Poets in Nigeria was my very first teacher, it brought me out to the open. It exposed me to every other one already in existence. And its various initiatives explore different forms of literature apart from poetry like the poetically written prose.
It’s in the forefront, it’s leading and connecting everyone to poetry, accepting everyone like it accepted me. Every day you experience a new miracle.
13. Thank you for your time. Please leave us with few lines of a poem you have written. (10 lines max)
My father is using my soap to bathe
It feels like walking into his room
& recoiling at seeing him undressed.
The river I taste here is bleak & salty
& crimson. I guess it’s no water
Or maybe I’m a carbon paper.