Flowers for Dreamhealers – Osy Mizpah

What country are you from and which languages do you speak? Tell us how the political climate in your country impacts the writing of your poetry? What is your day job? What got you writing in the first place, what are your major influences, what you are reading now? Tell us about how your generation speaks to you, is your poetry constantly evolving, do you believe in the essence of poetry workshops to becoming a better poet much in the same way Anne Sexton did?

I am from Nigeria. I am most fluent in English and understand just enough to get by in Yoruba and Hausa languages. My writings used to be inspired by the political climate in Nigeria and its subtle injustice, mental health, family, women and equality in all their shades. Now, there is a new stream that suddenly burst its banks and has become for me, a personal influence. As a citizen, I am still touched and affected by what happens in this land; even the personality that influences the stream by which I write, converts the political climate in Nigeria into a burden in my heart so that whatever I am told or inspired to write I make sure in its message, the Spirit of the Way and the Shepherd is speaking. 

By day, I am a geologist. What got me writing? The first time I wrote, it was at the influence of my cousin (who had a serious interest in music, particularly rap). I wrote few lines of hogwash at the back of my Elementary Vocational Attitude Text in Primary 5. Few years later, in high school, I was deep in thinking (I knew I was because I was not paying attention to the lesson taught) and there again, I wrote my heart into a scrap-book. I felt satisfied there was fire on that page. Perhaps, that is what it is— a fire shut up in my bones. My major influence is the Spirit of the Way and the Shepherd and He is the one who directs the way I see things in nature, in sounds, and in the expressions of people. Right now, I′m planning on spending more time reading the Holy Bible; there is an amazingly sealed language there that has begun to unlock. I simply summarize how my generation speaks to me as this: we are searching for an eternal quench to the thirst in our souls with a rock on our backs. I think my poetry is constantly evolving— I took a litmus test: in a Facebook post, a dear friend replied to my comment on her wall which made me realize that there have been massive changes even in my language. Sometimes, I gauge the evolution of my writings by the things I am inspired to write, and the maturity of their emotions. I have attended poetry workshops, writing workshops. I believe in poetry workshops— attending these events indicate a passion for self-development. 

Tell us about the poetry you have published, your favourite filmmakers, visual artists, photographers, creatives, who you admire amongst your contemporaries? What inspires you, who inspires you? What motivates you to get up in the morning to write? What do you wish to accomplish in the next five years as a poet?

I haven’t really published much— due to schoolwork, computer crashes and procrastination. However, I still recall the first poem ″Finding Shangri-La in Alley-dom″ that was accepted in a regional magazine. This was my first time submitting and I was excited that it was accepted. I didn’t understand what I was writing but then when I read the foreword, I discovered that the critic was truthful in calling its background as a searching poem. In the last year, existence, sacrifice, women, devotion have been my themes. I do not have favourite filmmakers, visual artists, photographers, creatives, and specific admiration for contemporaries— if it is good, I curate it. My motivation to get up in the morning is God— His language in the singing of the birds and noise of humanity, is a river. In the next five years? I should have three chapbooks.

What do you think of the advent of social media networking, Netflix, the Me Too Movement, Black Lives Matter, the African Renaissance, what African poets do you admire? Why teaching? Is there something you can tell us about your writing routine? Is there anything specific that you keep on your desk? What do you keep close to your heart?

Social media networking has been a great tool not only for poetry but for life. Life is an important business. I have no interest in Netflix. Every social movement and change in status quo that has shocked us in reality has been due to social media networking. #MeToo Movement. #BLM, #EndSARS and others have all been birthed through different voices connecting together on a platform that is open yet closed. It would seem as if the symbol for this is the ″#″. For MeToo movement, women have to be respected and treated fairly and equally. It is good that these women came out to speak about their treatments at the hands of degradable men. For BLM— racial inequality has always been across all tribes of the world. However, I am not in support of the movement yet I stand against injustice and police brutality. This is because the black race itself is a component of tribes and has its experiences of internal tribal inequality and injustice. The African Renaissance has only just begun— I feel there are three generations of writers by which this period will be made known: those who are yet undiscovered on the continent; those who are beginning to rise; and those who have risen but whose writings continue to evolve— and what they will write and read and recite will shock us all. It′s destiny and beauty. I admire the works of Saddiq Dzukogi, Gbenga Adesina, JK Anowe, Abigail George amongst others. Something specific about my writing routine? Patience— I have to be patient in writing. I hardly use a desk. What I keep in my heart? The Spirit of the Way and the Shepherd. I put him at the centre of all the imagery and words and he tells me where the stream is deepest and the current, strongest.

What kind of poetry, which poets and why changed your life in high school and set you on the road to becoming a poet? Tell us about your achievements in the poetry field and how many books you have written? Is there anything else that you would like to add? What advice would you give to other would-be poets out there? Thank you for your time.

I used to love the works of George Lord Byron Gordon and his metrical poems and so I always wrote in iambic tetrameters. Then I discovered free block, lyrical writing, T.S. Eliot, Anne Sexton, Sylva Plath and Walt Whitman. My achievements are just the poetry published so far. Recently, via recommendation, I got to become a contributor at Ovi, a magazine based in Finland. Presently, I am working on individual poems as they come for a book. My advice to other would-be poets: keep writing, despite it.

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