By Mujahid Aminu Lilo
Described by Umar Abubakar Sidi as ‘poet of light’, Naseeba’s poems are incandescent and soul-illuminating. Enjoy my interview with her
Elanza News: There is a sudden change in your poetry voice. It’s more romantic than ever, and all your poems are signed ‘Tyler -inspired’ How do you see Tyler Knot Gregson poetry and how has it influenced your poetry?
Naseeba Babale: Well, I came across Tyler Knott on Pinterest, and the first time I read his work, I was like wow! Is this guy from this world. His are works that depict pure art. Poetry without rules or borders, just pure unadulterated use of striking language. As I come to read him, I realized that his poetry speaks to my soul. I never read anything from him without it making me feel something, sometimes I have to stop and catch my breath. Then, I started to write after him, like I’d read his work, and it will make me feel an unquenchable desire to write back. It feels like Naseeba write to this poem or the words would choke you to death. And in doing so I realized that I’m using a voice that is somehow similar to his. That is how I found myself writing love or if you choose to call them, romantic poems.
Elanza News : So, should we expect more ‘Tyler-inspired’ poems?
Naseeba: Well, musings come and go. I will continue writing Tyler-inspired poems for as long as the muse stays. And if it shifts to something else, I’d follow suit. I’m my muse’s slave.
Elanza News: Tyler Knot Gregson is seen as a ‘social media poet ‘ with his poems posted on Twitter, Instagram. It is the same with you. Your poems are posted on Facebook and Instagram unlike before when you used to submit them to literary magazines online. You hardly submit to these magazines now. Is that ‘Tyler-inspired ‘also, the idea of being ‘social media poet’.
Naseeba:I think I’ve been a social media poet even before I met Tyler’s write ups. Poetry serves a specific purpose to me, and that is to let out my emotions without any borders. So I post my poems on social media especially facebook, because it happens to be a place where I have a fraternity of poetry loving people. I know a lot of people think I have to send my poems for publication in literary magazines, but I never seem to actually get to do that. Maybe I love being a social media poet( smiles).
Elanza News: Ok. Now, Tyler and his inspiration aside, we would want to know who’s this wonderful lady.
Well, I was born and raised in Kano. I attended Sheikh Bashir El-rayyah school from 1997-2005, then I went to Girls Science and Technical college Kano, from 2005-2008. I have a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science from Bayero University Kano and works with Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. I’m currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field.
Elanza News: You said you started out as storyteller, then went into poetry. What made you dumped storytelling for poetry?
Naseeba: Actually, the transition is still not very clear to me too. I think it started in 2008, I read Animal Farm again, and there’s this song or poem in the book :
“Books of England,
Books of Ireland… ”
And after I read it, I was like Naseeba you can write something like this, then I wrote my very first poem( I don’t know if it qualifies as that) and showed it to my English teacher. After that I started reading more poetry and learning about it. I then realized it’s my home. Writing poetry comes easier to me, because it’s my feelings that I write. I don’t need to stress myself thinking too much when writing a story. And the fact that poetry needs less words appeals to me.
Elanza News: When do you plan to publish a book?
Naseeba: I must admit this is a question so many people ask. The truth is, I’m in no rush to publish, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to at all. I’m nursing an idea right now, but I can’t say exactly when it’d surface. It could be this year, next month or next year. But I will, one day, God willing, publish an anthology of poetry.
Elanza News: Who are your best writers?
Naseeba: I love Rumi and Wordsworth. I’ve been inspired by their works. When you talk about contemporary writers I can’t skip Tyler, he’s number one. And locally speaking, I love the poems of Umar Sidi, Maryam Gatawa, and Habeebatu X. They inspire me.
Mujahid: You are one of the crews of PW, therefore you get to encounter the poetry of a lot of young writers from the North mostly. Reading their works, how do you see the literature of Northern Nigeria in years to come? Are the writers promising?
Naseeba: I think the literature of Northern Nigeria has a bright future. We have young writers with potential and zeal for the art. Poetic Wednesdays has made me realize that we have people with the passion for poetry and literature in general. All they need is support and promotion from other established authors, and most importantly guidance and mentoring. With these things in place, I believe Northern Nigerian literature has the sky as its starting point.
Elanza News: Sometimes, you write poems infused with Hausa verses (Engausa- poetic fusion). We would want to know what think about this ‘Engausa’ and Hausa poetry in general. Do you write poems completely in Hausa?
Naseeba: I read Hausa poetry even before I got interest in English ones. I read the likes of Aminu Akilu, Sa’adu Zungur, Na’ibi Wali and listened to Mudi Sipikin. I enjoyed them, and marvelled at their prowess. But as surprising and embarrassing as it is, I’ve never written a poem in Hausa. This is because there’s a huge difference between Hausa and English poetry. Every time I feel like trying on Hausa poetry, I feel like Naseeba you don’t know this. But seeing that Hausa is my mother tongue, I think I’d have to give it a try. On Engausa, I started writing it when we initiated what we called poetic fusion, that’s poetry between a local language and English. I love Engausa, it kinds of give me some sort of freedom to express myself in a different way.
Elanza News: In most of your poems, there is hardly mention of ‘dry season ‘ or ‘harmatttan ‘, only ‘summer’ and ‘winter. Some people think this wrong of an African writer. What is your say on that?
Naseeba: Well, yeah, people think it’s wrong, seeing that we don’t experience summer or winter per say in this part of the world. But you see, that’s the beauty of writing, you don’t need to experience something for you to write about it, or to use it in your writing. So I used summer and winter to paint imageries I believe would be more vivid to the readers if I use them. But nonetheless, I’ll start using more local terms, to give the poems a more local feel.
Elanza News: What advice do you normally give young writers?
Read, and read and read again. You never can be good writer before being a good reader first. And never think you’re too big for a mentor. Find yourself a good mentor, someone who can objectively put you through your journey. Never take criticism personal. Critics are there to make you better. Do not be deceived by the hype you get about how good your work is. Your work may be good, but it can be better. And the only way it gets better is if you keep reading and learning.
Elanza News: What is your best quote on poetry?
Naseeba: “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions ” Williams Wordsworth.
Elanza News: What’s the best poem you have read this month?
A poem by Habeebatu X ,Soul Sailor.
Elanza News: Thank you for your time