ABP– Thank you for taking this interview Jemelia, and helping us kick of 2021 right. A few months ago, Alien Buddha Press had the privilege of releasing Love, Joy, Tears, Beers, and Poetry. What can you tell us about this collection? What was your process like in writing it?
JM– Hi, thank you so much for having me!
My poetry collection is very much influenced by life. This could be directly or indirectly for example, ‘I am Mum’ is written about how I felt during pregnancy and thereafter whilst ‘Protests’ was very much influenced by what I saw happening in the world and on the news at the time namely the BLM movement.
When I write, I sometimes don’t actually set out to write, for example when I wrote ‘unite’ I was actually watching the news, when I saw what we all saw RE; George Floydd and the poem just instantly came to me as I was moved. I grabbed a pen and wrote what came to mind. This is how I often write poetry.
However, sometimes the process is different-for the poem ‘Lockdown’, I did set out to write. I just needed to get the emotions I was feeling about ‘lockdown’ out and when I started to write, that poem came out.
ABP- Coming up this week on the 4th, you will be reading live from Love, Joy, Tears, Beers and Poetry on the Songs of Selah podcast with host Scott Thomas Outlar; along with fellow ABP authors Edward Wells II, Ada Wofford, and Shannon Frost Greenstein. (That show starts at 8PM EST and I will leave info on where to listen in below). What poems will you be reading? Have you ever read your poetry live before?
JM- I find choosing poetry to read to an audience quite hard as you never know what others will like. So honestly, I am still undecided as of yet-but I think ‘Hope’ ‘Lockdown’ and ‘ I will never truly die’ are in the running! I do know I will definitely read a new poem or two that is not in the book, to give those that have read the book something extra!
Yes I have read my poetry before. I started performing poetry at age 15. (Some 20 odd years ago)! in local places in London. I stopped performing but have performed on and off over the years. My last performance was approximately 3 years ago at a Charity event organised for orphaned children from the Carribean.
ABP– What is the poetry scene like in the United Kingdom?
JM– The poetry scene is very supportive in the UK especially on social media platforms. This year in particular, I have seen a rise in the use of poetry and Spoken Word especially in advertising and award shows like The MOBO’s (music of black origin-award show, shown once a year in the U.K.) where they award and recognise artists for their work. This year for the first time ever, they had a Spokenword Act perform.
ABP– Who are some of your favorite writers?
JM- This is a hard question as whilst I obviously like poetry, and I love artists like ‘George the Poet’ (check him out he’s great) my favourite writers are actually musicians and there are so many it’s hard to pinpoint, for example ‘Chip’ or ‘Bugsy Malone’ are very poetic in the way they write their lyrics as is ‘Dermott Kennedy’. At the moment these artists are on my repeat playlist of inspirational writing.
ABP– Do you have anything planned creatively for 2021?
JM- I have just finished writing a Children’s book and hope to get that published in 2021. I have also just finished writing another poetry collection (one of the poems I will read on the 4th will be from this collection).
I really hope to get performing to an audience again and I would love to write poetry for theatres and TV-Covid permitting!!
ABP– Can you share one of your poems with us?
JM- It will be my pleasure. This poem is written about those that flee their country due to safety risks looking for refuge. Again, this poem was influenced by a little boy that lost his life in a dingy trying to flee danger. He and his family tried to get to Britain for safety, he was found on a Shore. I saw this story on the news.
Through choppy waters, tranquil by day, beautiful by sight, unkind at a touch
on a shady dingy
risking life and limb to attempt to arrive safely to shore, safely onto secure land
because the man in suits told the man in arms to invade my motherland
we’re poisoned by the gas, and by the slaughter of our people
destruction, devastation and death
the only thing left is the touch of my dying mother’s shaking hand
her tears fall like my people
like her hope their spirits rise
I set ashore
to death or to float
to sink or to swim
to drown or to live
my destiny, to die or to be free
ABP- Thank you again for taking the time out of your schedule to do this Jemelia. The floor is all yours. Please take as much space as you would like here to make any announcements or share any information, or plug anything that you would like.
JM- Thank you so much for having me and for all the support you have given me in publishing Joy, Tears, Beers and Poetry. Working with you has been a pleasure.
I plan to make 2021 the best year ever as we’ve all had a rough 2020 with Covid. Look out for my children’s book and new poetry collection-all of which I hope to get out this year. Follow on me on Twitter @jemeliapoet for all the latest news. Again, thank you for having me!