10/17. Interview by ND
Interviewer: Thanks for agreeing to this interview.Tell us a little about yourself.
Amby: My pleasure.My name is Amby Ezem from Nigeria currently living in the UK. I’m a pharmacist and author. A noise maker at times and other times , surprisingly quiet.
Apart from writing and pharmacy (ing), I sing and play the drums.Is that little enough ?
Pls, pardon me in advance if I get informal with you once in a while.
(I have received a go ahead from the gods and elders to that regard).Are you married?
(laughs) that’s OK. Feel free.No I’m not married
So how long have you been writing? What/Who inspires your writing and what exactly do you write?
I’ve been writing for about 15 years.What inspires me ? Everything and everyone ( a bit random ) but everywhere around me is bursting with inspiration, and everyone too is an embodiment of inspiration. Even a word said, a little action observed, or a sentence heard strikes alot in me. Then apart from everything and everyone , I pay attention to my experiences and things that happen to me directly. What exactly do I write? I write poetry and prose , short narratives and drama
So, what has your greatest success been so far in the writing business?
The opportunity to present my pieces before people both in UK and Nigeria.The feedback I get from people on how inspired they are and how the words resonate with them . It’s always humbling and surprising.
Hmmm… I see.After all, what greater joy does a cook have than in seeing people savouring, relishing and complimenting her delicacies.Kudos for that
I am sure you also have some memorable bitter experiences growing up as a writer, especially from Africa.Could you share some of them with us?
One major one : not being appreciated and encouraged enough but I had to toss waiting for that to come and reach for it myself in myself. I became my biggest fan and I still am.Yes because you write and think , yes!!! finally but then no one is welcoming. Or they throw this saying , “you and this hobby” at you.I’m like brush. Hobby? Please
Then apart from the lack of support as the case may be, what other factors do you think limit young people from embracing the Art and Act of writing in this 21st Century?Especially in Africa
It doesn’t pay the bills. Few weeks ago I was speaking to a friend who writes really good and he said he needed to make money so he had to set it aside. I should say , at first it doesn’t pay the bills but once word gets out there of your work then I believe it turns out well but that’s where patience , consistency and determination comes in. Apart from that , writing good requires dedication and patience which most young people don’t have nowadays.
I remember being advised by a Professor many years ago as an upcoming poet to rather channel my enemy into music, in the likes of 2Face Idibia, cos the average african youth would rather spend on music and entertainment than stick his nose on a book*
That’s indeed true but irrespective of the average , we have that few ( growing few ) who are still keen on books.
Knowing the challenges and limitations of being a writer today, what would your advice be to any child who wishes to have a career in writing
I’ve been asked a similar question . This is my reply:
Wow.This is so inspiring.Briefly stated: “Don’t stop at waiting for opportunities. BE PREPARED FOR OPPORTUNITIES”
You have a published work: Soul’ s Exhale ( breathing & bleeding ). Can you tell us briefly about the book?
It’s a book of poetry and prose . 5 chapters , 258 pages .Each chapter represents few sections of my soul . With the 1st on womanhood , 2nd on relationship gone sour and then the healing. The 3rd on love in all its beauty. The 4th on family and the fifth ties everything together shortly.
When was it published, and how has it fared, market-wise?What are your marketting channels and how can one get it?
It was published in July. It’s done fairly good but would get better.
I’ve had people order more than one copy which has been so exciting (happy dance). The first support came from my personal network ( I repeat networking would save you ).My marketing chanel : I’m presently working on photo series , I’d be doing give aways, I did a bit a of quiz at my last performance at Wales and the prize was my book. I’ve also contacted a few blogs in Nigeria and Scotland. Presently it’s available on amazon, Barnes and nobles and shipped worldwideHope to get it in Nigeria by December. I also use my social media platforms. I recently released a spoken word poetry album to give people a feel.
Fusion. the album
We honestly can’t wait and I must get a copy before then.
SPOKEN WORD ALBUM?How can we get/access it?
I suppose it can be downloaded?
Yes it’s available on soundcloud.Fusion. the album
Then before I give room for questions, lastly:YOUR WORD FOR WSA, PLEASE
My word for WSA: Thank you for starting . Thank you for not holding back. Thank you for pouring yourself. Thank you for soaking it in and giving out the beauty of your words.
Thank you very much Dearie.You’re such a beautiful soul.An Angel clothed with humanity, I must say.
We will now entertain one or few questions from the house before drawing the cutting.
Thank you so much for your kind words.
Selected Questions from the audience
A lady- Thank you so much for your insight. We just celebrated day of the girl child, so:
(a) what message do you have for women in general
(b) what message do you have for colored girls
(c) 5 women you find iconic and why
(d) if you had 48 hours to live, what would you do and what would be your last words
e) is there any of ur works that you used your profession (pharmacy) as imagery?
f) How have your experiences shaped your art?
g) Are you happy to do collaborations?
Thank you for your questions. They are too lit.
a) my message to women – There is need to understand ourselves.
The need for realness with themselves.
when she hurts,
listen to her .
when she needs to be alone,
soak in the solitude.
when she needs to be in a crowd ,
sorround her but sorround her with people of great benefit.
And one important message, we are not a sin . Our womanhood is not an after thought and we are not a feeling ( to those men that like to whisper – “I’d make you feel more like a woman”)
b) For colored girls– This one is close to my heart because it is black history month and I was invited to present a piece weeks back.
My advice for coloured girls-
you too are God’s creation .
Beautiful brown , black dust
breathing in the very life of God.
You are not a disease
all that you are is sweetness
in your melanin is honey.
Do not scrub away the colour
or feel the need to change
because of another person.
Your colour is not a flaw neither
is it a signpost for all things
angry, loud and stereotypical.
c) 5 iconic women
My mum – she is the embodiment of all things art and strength. Most times I am amazed that I carry such powerful genes in me.
Maya angelou ( if my memory serves well, she was the first woman I knew in poetry). I watched her interview months back and she resonated with me so much .
Toni morrison – I discovered her late but I’m glad I did at last. This woman is raw with her work . I hope to get there someday.
Princess Diana – I watched her documentaries and it amazed me how much she went through especially in the arms of her “prince” and royal family (according to the documentary) and how she could come out strong after suffering an eating disorder . Also how she understood that there was more to life than standing tall and glam which made her reach out to those in need.
Then, the women in my lineage – I recently started paying close attention to them and their individuality and I see myself in their experiences
d) if you had 48 hours to live, what would you do and what would be your last words- I’d give all password to someone especially my laptop and bank information.
My laptop because they contain numerous drafts and work to be released and other important information and my bank details so those I love can get the money. Also all my belongings to charity.
My last words – All my love to those around me and Lord be merciful to me and recieve me to eternal rest.
e)Is there any of ur works that you used your profession (pharmacy) as imagery?
I love your question !!!! yes I’ve done a few pieces related to pharmacy, and as we speak I’m working on a bigger project in that regard. It is taking time but I’m so excited for it. The few people I have shared it with gave off mixed feelings. A few thought it was brilliant and the rest, thought it did not make sense and wasn’t possible and that’s beautiful as I am ready to shock them and also shock myself. The idea came last year and it’s been started but enough research needs to be done and is going on. That’s one thing I like about writing , research.
f)How have your experiences shaped your art?
It makes up majority of my inspiration so my experiences from being a woman , a pharmacist , a singer , relationship with people , my culture and being in diaspora . So far, everything I write rotates around these apart from thought our experiences that is, sometimes I draw from the opposite of my experience trying to wear the shoes of others other than mine.
My experiences have moulded me even more as a writer and I’m ever so grateful. Although a few are painful and may stir regret, I try not to push them aside. I try to soak in all the inspiration whether it makes my heart heavy or not
g)Are you happy to do collaborations?
Few general comments from the audience
” This is so beautiful. You are doing really well. Your interview is awe-mazing. I hope to meet with you in person. Congrats on your book”.
“That’s wonderful. I’m encouraged and inspired.
As many wonder why I should combine a health course with writing”
“Angel on sight. Good interview though”
“Nice interview… Keep it up dear… Brilliant!”
In reply to:Apart from that , writing good requires dedication and patience which most young people don’t have nowadays
“Not only nowadays, it has always been like that for ages. Well done for your part..”
“I too admire Maya Angelou! Thank you for the answers! They are sooo complete I can’t even add anything helpful”
“Wowww!!!!!!! A wonderful interview….”
“Interesting interview. Wish you success in both pharmacy and writing”
“Well done guys.The interview was on point”
“I enjoyed the interview, apt questions, apt answers..
“Thanks for such a beautiful interview and Amby, thanks a bunch, you rock.
“Great discussion. well done”
Now my official thanks : thank you so much for being so engaging and warm. To you, my interviewer, you were awesome.All my love to you all