To put aside this coffee
And go to
The waterline where
Your hips give in
To cross a shadow as it crosses you.
You: as open as summer.
Interview with the Poet - by Nola Summers
Nola Summers: Why the move to New York? What do you like or dislike about New York?
Uche Nduka: I guess the time for me to change base from Germany simply rang in. It struck me a few months ago that I no longer felt as creatively relaxed in Germany as I used to be. My writing thrives better when I am totally -- physically, psychically, spiritually, artistically -- attuned to a place. I lived in Germany for 9 years. Those years matured me in all the right ways. They also taught me to embrace the whole world as my home. Germany and my travels confirmed my natural propensity towards cosmopolitanism. I am restlessly enamored of the unforeseen. Since I left Nigeria, my home country, in October 1994 my life has more or less been improvisatory. Many close friends have enriched and still enrich my peripatetic existence. I have learnt to choose my battles better; my battles against injustice, racism, provincialism, aggressive secularism, pomposity, victim-ology, political myopia, cynicism, anti-intellectualism, artistic timidity, selfishness, fashionable joylessness, militant patriotism. So I moved to New York to perhaps be in a position to continue the search for authenticity and continue the work in uplifting the Human Estate.
I like the astounding energy of New York. I like the anonymity it gives me. I like the friendliness of people in the streets here. I admire the exciting literary and music scenes of New York. I admire the architecture. New York seems to be multicultural. On the minus side I detest the mainly misogynist, racist, violent, formulaic rap music I have heard so far since I arrived in New York.
Nola: What or who inspires you?
Uche: Love. Fellowship. Peace. Beauty. Civil courage. Trees. Children. Women. Deep spirituality. History. Philosophy. Travel. Music. The Sea. Paintings. Sculpture. Streets. Fine Wine. Aerobics. Daddy. Mommy. Photography. Gardening. Hiking. Parks. Laughter. Sex. Good food. Birdwatching. Reveries. Dreams. Eroticism. Magenta. Dance. Girls. Mountains. Literature. Partying. Movies. God. Goddess. Horses. Cats. Dogs. Archeology. Boats. Plants. Dolls. Effigies. Harmattan. The seasons. Artists. My own aesthetic/literary path seems to be a playful style of fortitude; refusing to be infected with a closure complex; sticking to alleviating the defamation of creative provisionality. My work does not set stock on definitiveness, on completeness. Sometimes it is self-reflexive; sometimes it is self-reformative; sometimes it is
self-incriminating. The bulk of my work so far is shiftingly linear, non-linear, cyclic, episodic, impressionistic, and aphoristic. The texts reject any separation between the spiritual and the corporeal.
Nola: Do you have a writing ritual? If so, what is it that you do?
Uche: I wake up each day around 6 am and slide into my meditation mode and pose. Afterwards I go jogging or walking. Returning to the house I shower, grab coffee,
and go sit to write. I write in long hand. Once the writing starts flowing I go along with it, editing nothing; just staying loose with the surge of words. I stop whenever the words and ideas dry up. The editing happens when I intuitively feel the time for that has come. After years of plodding on, I have come to realize that I do not write with the intention of meeting a general approval. I write whatever the theme, whichever the style, wherever the place and out of a deep necessity. My creative objectifications are driven by my existential need for both solitude and communion.
Nola: Tell me about your first job -- the first thing you were paid to do.
Uche: I worked as the first Executive Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors in Lagos from 1987 to 1989. This was the first job I was paid to do. It entailed writing the minutes of the meetings of the executive of the association, collecting the books and manuscripts sent in for the annual literary prizes, traveling to deliver the materials to the judges, helping in organizing the annual Conferences of the Literary Association, providing emergency accommodations for footloose writers that showed up in the Secretariat which was situated in the Annex 3 of the National Theatre in Lagos, liaising with the cultural centers of countries like France, United States of America, Britain, Brazil, Germany, Italy, South Africa etc. I loved that job. I got to meet many local and foreign writers.
Nola: If you weren't doing this what would you be doing as a career?
Uche: I would perhaps have been a sailor. I still have dreams of sailing the seas.
Nola: What path do you see yourself taking in the future?
Uche: I see myself expanding in my creative capacities. I hope to add photography, teaching, music-making, and film-making to my creative itinerary.
Nola: Who (anyone -- past or present) would you like to sit down and dine with and what would you eat?
Uche: Rosa Parks. And I would like us to wolf down some rice and chicken.
©2008 by Uche Nduka