Samuella Conteh, a poet from Sierra Leone, wrote the foreword to Lullaby of Silence, a collection of late night blues edited by PIN President, Sir Eriata Oribhabor. In this interview, she shares her thoughts on writing and promoting poetry, with the editor of the publication.

 1) Reading your poems, you strike me as one who was awaiting an opportunity to pour down those lines. What’s your reaction?

In my subconscious, yes but naturally, I force myself to believe true love exists – somewhere.

2) If you are asked to answer why your poems were chosen for this Anthology, what would you say?

I would want to believe they fit the bill of what the anthology was calling for.

3) No doubt, you love poetry. Why Poetry?

Poetry came to me, when I could not even recognize it.

4) How do you feel writing the Foreword to an anthology you are also a contributing poet?

I feel quite privileged writing that foreword and it being my first was a spring board to probe further on why write a foreword in the first place.

5) Do you know of Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (NSPP)? Do you have something similar in Sierra Leone? If not, how about setting up one with technical support from Poets in Nigeria (PIN) ?

Interacting with Nigerian writers made me understand that such a project existed.

In Sierra Leone we may have something of the sort to complement another project, nothing sustainable in that regard.

I would be happy to set up one in Sierra Leone with support from PIN.

6) You work with the government of Sierra Leone in Freetown. What specifically do you do? Where did you pick your interest for writing poetry from?

I work as Senior Administrative Officer with the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL).

Like I mentioned before, I had been writing poetry since I was in school but never really understood what I was writing till a mentor discovered me in my late twenties.   Life and its cares pushed poetry to the back burner, till I suddenly found I had some extra time on my hands, and I put those extra hours in between family and work, to write.

My work in the promotion and protection of human rights inspires many poems on human stories I have written and still continue to write, like women and children’s rights, disability and non-discrimination, injustice, etc.

7) Is this your first anthology to be featured?

No.  I have been featured in over 15 anthologies, both at home and elsewhere.

The latest being “Break The Silence”, an anthology against domestic violence published in Trinidad and Tobago, that is currently a bestseller on Amazon.

8) When you are not reading books or writing poetry, what would you be doing?

I would be steering the wheels of my home.

9) How would you want to round off this interview?

Poetry for me is a breath of fresh air.  It boldens my voice in self expression and gives me a platform to pipe a call for mankind to recall his humanity.

11) Write a five line poem

“Beautiful Picture”

Dazzling like the rays of the sun

Glittering like a thousand stars

Familiar like a song loved well

Promising like a vow unbroken

That picture etched in my mind

© Samuella Conteh (Sierra Leone)

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