This life is an adventure. The thing about it is, where we wander; none have walked before.
Our life is sacramental. Infact someone once wrote, ‘It is lived as a secret and told as a lie. Sure, we share bits and pieces of what happens throughout our days, or within our nights, but that’s all. That’s all that is shared. This being a simple act of human nature’.
God weaved the world with His Word because life is an unwritten book. And he created writers to color it in black and white.
2000 years after the death and resurrection of His only begotten son, God begot a poet. A generous poet who doesn’t shy away from reconstructing the alphabet into beautiful words, then phrases, sentences and ultimately into remarkable poems. Naomi Kimani Santuella.
She now gives a quick peek on her journey, to the best of her recollection.
What sparked your initial love of poetry?
I don’t really know. However, in primary school, I fancied poems because most of them had rhyme and sounded so good. I started writing when I got into high school. Poetry became an escape for me from a lot of things I was dealing with.
Did you write as a child/come from a literary background?
No, I did not write as a child. I do not come from a literary background. No one else writes in my family.
How do your poems develop? Pen and Paper, computer, notebooks…Please tell us about your process…
I am not sure I have a process for writing. There are times I will have a complete idea for a poem. And there are times I start with a phrase. I toy with the phrase trying to write something. It will be a rough draft, I will keep coming back to it until I think it’s ready. It might take weeks to finish the draft.
The means differ from time to time. However, the most consistent is pen and paper, and the notebook on my phone. In the beginning, when I started writing I’d use pen and paper. Get a blank page and write a draft, then review it as necessary. Later on, though, I use the notebook on my phone. So it is a bit of both of them.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere I’d say. Most of my ideas are from life experiences, either mine or other people’s. I also get ideas from imagination, I just create a story in my head. I get ideas from other poets’ works, like prompts or a poem that moves me. I also get ideas randomly! Like a phrase that piques my interest from a conversation, I think about it and see where it will lead me to. The thing is, to always be open, like a blank page, always learning, always observing the world.
Do you show your work in progress to anyone? Why?
I don’t show my work in progress to anyone. I don’t have a concrete reason really lol. I just don’t. I like any project I am involved in to be like my secret until it is ready.
What poets do you continually go back to? Who are your favorite dead and living poets?
I keep going back to Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Oliver and I am now discovering Rilke. My favorite ones are Robert Frost, Mary Oliver, Emily @emilyapoetry on Instagram. At the same time, I really like discovering poets I’ve never read before. It’s such a beautiful adventure.
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?
Yes definitely! In the beginning, poetry was a mechanical thing for me. It was mostly about the rhyme and structure and its technical part. Now though, it is very dear to me because it is a refuge. I can get lost in when things are bad. It is also a safe place for authentic expression. I can be brutally honest in poetry. It has also helped me meet some amazing people. Its more whole and complete, not just rhyme and stylistic devices.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Hard question. Soul. I know that sounds hippie in a way but soul for me is an important element of good writing. A poem or book has to be alive in some way. It has to have a bit of the soul of the writer like the writer poured everything into the writing process in such a way that the work is alive as well. Other elements include imagery and using linguistic devices to get your point across and be creative at the same time.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they?
I do and I also sort of don’t. I am in a number of poetry groups including one formed during this lockdown called Quarantine blues and poetry. In some of the groups, it’s definitely a community and it even feels like a family, but in others its more or less just about writing and I don’t feel like I truly belong but I enjoy reading the posts.
What writers did you enjoy reading as a child?
I barely read poetry when I was a child. I used to read a lot of scientific books and encyclopedias. Lol. I was a nerd. I’d read storybooks too like Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, such books.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading Poetry books by Mary Oliver. Currently ‘A Thousand mornings’
Are there any types of books you don’t enjoy reading?
Yes. Erotic books, those with a lot of profanity, such.
How did you manage to fit writing in with other demands on your time? Are you good at managing your time?
Lol. Well, the truth is I just write whenever. That includes even in the middle of the night or in the middle of a task, I can take a break to jot down a phrase or a draft of a poem. I don’t have a schedule of writing but I try to make sure that I don’t go for two days without writing. Sometimes there aren’t words or and feelings!
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I think that would be expressing really deep feelings using words. There are days I’m just filled with so many feelings, my emotions are all over, I feel like I’d burst and I try to let them go through a poem or so, and it doesn’t work. So I keep writing draft after draft of just one poem but it still doesn’t come outright. In the end, however, things work out even if it’s days later.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be more original. Its a balancing act though. Being original and packaging in a way that the readers want. It has to be both.
How has social media changed the game for poetry?
Social media has definitely made it easier to access works by different poets. I have made some new friends through this. However, copyright is a big issue in social media. There are people who take original works by others and share them as their own. This is so heartbreaking because the original writer is really trying to get good work done only for someone else to ride on that. I’d tell people when you find sth you think is really good and you want to share it, please tag the person who wrote it or at least make sure it is known who the owner is. That is a small way to help original artists.
Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write poetry?
Just write. Write and write and keep writing. Also, read a lot. Get poets whose works touch you. And write
According to her, Poetry’s definition has changed.
“There are so many people now who write what they call poetry. This has definitely brought issues in what poetry really is. In my opinion, it takes creativity to break some rules in making art. What we are seeing now is that there are some works that go by the tag poetry but there’s barely any creativity in them.”
“I think poetry has to provoke something deep in a reader. There has to be some imagery and creativity. It is really good that we are seeing new poetry works that don’t follow traditional rules. At the same time let’s try to still keep the essence of poetry so that we don’t have a diluted version of poetry.”