I am speaking to the lovely Samia, who is the author of a collection of poems called A Few Rays Of Sunshine. What I want to know is what made you start writing poetry? What inspired you to call this collection A Few Rays Of Sunshine?
First of all, thank you so much Ree for giving me the opportunity to come here and speak with you about my poetry book. I actually started writing poetry on Instagram, my good friend and poet TheSmilingAkh started his account and he was one of the very first poets that I knew were popular on Instagram and i guess I was inspired to show my craft and write what I believe in. I called this collection And The Sun Still Shines because once you read it, you will come to see that this collection challenges many important issues specifically hate crime and racism/ discrimination however it also has its upside of poems about love, diversity and nature which shows that no matter if the sun sets today, it will will rise tomorrow and shine again therefore proving that things eventually gets better. I was trying to show people to still have hope, and to open their hearts to the possibility of things getting better.
Let’s get into it shall we! So, you published your collection with Word Jar, for anybody who is reading this and wants to publish their work, what was the process you took to get A Few Rays Of Sunshine recognised and published?
Yes I did, I published my collection with WordJar which was a publisher that really took care of me and believed in my work, and gave me a chance to use my voice. The process was quite simple really, I had to run a few editing sessions with my editor at wordjar, we focused on the context of the cover and how to make it appeal to the readers that I was aiming for. Initially I contacted wordjar, the founder Francis Labiran set up a meeting with me and once we decided to go ahead with the book everything fell in to place.
Like me, you absolutely adore writing and reading, and you have from a young age. Could you see yourself doing anything that doesn’t involve reading or writing? Is that what you want to do?
Well I have a specific mindset in place that I believe it’s necessary to always have a back up and be ready for life. So I mean, I’m not stretching too far from reading and writing in that I want to become an English teacher if this doesn’t work out but my dream and my main goal for my profession is to become an author.
Let’s get into your collection, so the first poem I am presented with is Thoughts, which I feel so deeply. You say A lot of pain, they say its unnecessary. A lot of true love, they say it’s impossible. That was beautiful. I absolutely adore this poem, it’s so short but it just hits you so fast. The contrast you make between pain, love and death, there’s such a distinct connection and then you call it thoughts. So, that gives it an abstract yet realistic vibe. What was your inspiration behind this poem? What were you trying to communicate?
Personally I’ve felt pain, I’ve felt loss and I’ve felt love and all of them I feel contributes to who I am today. Actually all of my poems do, because they really reflect me. I’ll let you in to a secret, the voice speaking in each poem is me to some extent. It comes from within. I love that you enjoyed this poem, because I loved writing it. We live in a world where things are so set in stone that having an opinion or feeling a specific way distinguishes you from an influenced crowd. I am trying to communicate that I believe that pain, love and death is a semantic field of reality and there is a formula it creates to the naked mind which therefore speaks for itself.
I love your poem ‘ In Love With The Moon’.I really do adore it because I believe in a woman’s strength. I tweeted that literally, being strong is all I know. Regardless of what I’m going through, I just need to solider through it, as my Dad would say. Anyway, (laughs) look at me trying to divert the conversation. You say, She walked as though she carried the universe on her shoulders. Her life began to slip through the cracks in her fingers. She made strong the new invincible. I felt empowered just by reading that, and I’m sure many others would. What were you trying to convey in this poem?
I’m so glad you feel that way because In Love With The Moon is another favourite of mine and it was a favourite of many of my readers. I believe in feminism, I believe in female power and I believe that women are the true soldiers of this life. It’s a literal figment of reality. As women, we carry so much on our soldiers that, without generalising, it’s not something men can do. And I feel like despite how strong we are and how much we contribute to society, women are constantly belittled and our decisions are made for us which is quite frankly ridiculous. I love playing on words, as a writer I love trying to convey meaning, and I try to create a image for my reader for them to really visualise and emancipate their own concepts and beliefs.
I must speak about this poem, simply because it’s very powerful and it is about a current problem. Not just in America, but also in the UK too. Your poem Don’t Shoot! I felt like you were talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, so many slain African American males have been victims of police and judicial racism that they are killed even when they are complying and then the police officers aren’t held accountable for their actions. Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” but they continued to kill the man. Its despicable, and when you say I tell you I can’t breathe, but you choke me some more”, that’s who I thought about. What are your views on BLM? And was that what you were implying through this poem (laughs), because poetry is up for interpretation
I wrote Don’t Shoot for the black lives matter movement. Coming from a black Muslim household and African background, the police brutality in the US is something that I may not personally relate to but I feel hurt and angry every and each time it happens. In different parts of this poem I refer to innocent men who were killed by the US police due to prejudice and racial. Eric Garner being one of them. ‘don’t shoot’ being what I think is now a phrase that so many of us refer to when discussing BLM, I felt like really I needed to show how ridiculously these men were killed after doing actions that are perfectly lawful like sitting in your car. There is a sarcastic tone used in this poem because I sometimes cannot fathom the way these men& women were gunned down by doing things that are completely lawful. I hope people are interpretation this poem correctly. This poem is about the BLM movement. It is about the ridiculous ways that innocent men and women are gunned down because of their races. It’s about how disgusting and despicable the law enforcement are in the US and how these traits are slightly being formed in the UK. It’s about how every single innocent person who has lost their lives to the BLM movement have left behind an even more innocent person they loved. It’s about how these men and women were gunned down in front of their children, other family members and an officer that swore and took an oath to protect them. It’s about innocent, lack of justice and pain. It’s about how they didn’t deserve it and it needs to be stopped. It’s about how they are innocent people who are being targeted as we speak, and I refuse to stop using my voice until this stops.
This is all we have time for, but really and truly your collection is amazing. I wanna know what is next for you and what how can we stay connected to you? Also, can you tell these lovely readers how they can get a hold of your poetry collection?
Thank you so much for taking your time to talk to me and discuss my book with me. I am currently writing my YA contemporary book which is about Trumps Muslim ban and I will have more information about that soon on my social media! You can find me discussing poetry, writing and books on my Instagram and Twitter @ssharifbooks. The link to my poetry book is here:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sun-Still-Shines-Samia-Sharif/dp/1545208255?SubscriptionId=AKIAJ2T5JPVHZYWTTL7A&tag=fashfold-21&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=1545208255