with Jakky Bankong-Obi
twitter @jakkybeefive : https://linktr.ee/Jakky
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Jakky: I started writing in 2019. Before then I wasn’t really reading any poetry though like everyone else I knew some Achebe, Diop, Shakespeare, Yeats, etc. The only poetry book I had ever read from start to finish was “Essential Rumi” trs. by Stephen Mitchell. I didn’t have any poetry sensibilities as it were until I became active on Twitter and joined the writing community there. That’s when I truly started reading and writing poetry. That should give you an idea of how my first poems look!
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Jakky: I read so many poems truly and I’m still learning and trying to explore poetry so I can’t say for sure I’ve found my biggest influences. I’m just soaking it all up and asking for more!
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Jakky: I always knew I wanted to be writer, I just didn’t know what I wanted to write. I’ve also always being into journaling and making notes or writing down quotes from books I was reading. And because a lot of my professional life is media related, I’ve also done quite a bit of writing around different sectors. However, until I started using social media I didn’t really think of exploring writing as an artist.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Jakky: There are quite a number of people actually. But I think the first thing that has helped with writing is reading. Reading and learning from other poets and writers inspires like nothing else can.
As for the actual writing, I like to send first drafts around to friends and then use the feedback to improve the work. Even some of my friends who aren’t writers get to read whatever I’m working on. It all depends on what I’m working on.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home Influence your work?
Jakky: I grew up mostly rural, shuttling between my mother’s village and wherever my parents or grandparents happened to be working at the time. Mostly in provincial or municipal towns in south eastern Nigeria. I mean, I only got to go to Lagos for the first time at 16 in 1996. And for those 16 years, Nigeria was ruled by military dictators and because of my mom’s job as a teacher in the military barracks, which was quite regimented and stifling.
As an adult, I’ve done a bit of traveling and for me the underlying thing is always nature, culture (social or otherwise) and how these things shape us and make us who we are. This is what I try to explore in my own writing. I’m always seeking the intersection between landscape, culture and identity, whether I am writing about things like grief, desire, loss, love, joy, motherhood, politics etc. This is really what writing is about isn’t it? We are all just telling stories and inviting others to step into the worlds we have created either from experience or fiction with the hope that people can read them and see something of themselves there. This is what art is about isn’t it? To see, and to be seen.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Jakky: Everything is meaningful because of the circumstances in which each work is being produced. Aside being a poet, I’m also an editor with Icefloe press and I’ve done a few local projects and I consider everything to be a really meaningful. Frankly, I haven’t gotten over acceptances or getting solicited for work! It’s such a rush to get my work accepted or featured anywhere.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Jakky: I listen to a lot of music, go on long walks and watch sports with my son and my love. I hang out with my friends when I can though the pandemic has put a hold on that. I also read to relax, and it could be anything from erotic novels to pinterest quotes.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Jakky: These lines from my poem “ LITTLE CATASTROPHES” which was published by Pidgeonholes come to mind –
“because even in the absence of light, there is still so much life can / gift
the dank its own reason”
I’ve just been reading this poem because of the collection I’m putting together and they just resonated with me in this moment. http://pidgeonholes.com/2020/10/little-catastrophes/
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
My most recent Concession in the Asphyxia Issue 3 from Downriver Road: