The Spirit of a Scribe | Poet Wanjiku Wanjiru
Joce: This lovely poet we’re speaking with today is one that I discovered on Instagram. I wasn’t sure who she was, since her page has no photos of herself! But her poems were so captivating I wanted to reach out. Hi Wanjiku! Can you share some info about yourself to get us started?
Wanjiku: I am Wanjiku Wanjiru and Wanjiku is my mother’s name. These are names from the largest tribe in Kenya, Kikuyu, which I was born as. I have been writing since my school years but I started sharing my writing online on Tumblr from March 2017 and progressively found a new community on Instagram and Twitter in 2018. My responsibility as a writer is to be as honest as I can with my writing so as to reach out to those meant to find, to act as a mirror that ‘all you feel is okay, it is valid, it is how we truly know what we are for by understanding what we are against’ and simply to inspire change.
Joce: That is wonderful how you were able to share your work across all those platforms. So where are you living now?
Wanjiku: I am from Kenya and currently residing in Nairobi, Kenya. Love it though I move around.
Joce: I see you have a book out called Under the Mango Tree. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about this book and what it means to you?
Wanjiku: Under the Mango Tree is very close to my heart. It is about my journey of self-discovery put in a sequence of 5 independent yet cohesively chapters as the previous one builds onto the next. It’s my first born and it signifies to me an open portal of new sparks of creativity and sets the pace for future projects and to actually out do it.
Joce: Here is a question I ask everyone. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Wanjiku: I would tell my younger working/writing self is ‘you are doing the best you can, that’s more than enough.’
Joce: I love that. Releasing yourself of the pressure we put on ourselves. Do you think the Internet and social media contribute to the well-being of poetry?
Wanjiku: Like so many things in life, there are pros and cons. Social sites are a great tool to get immediate feedbacks for your work, to gain a reading audience and to connect with like-minded but the not so encouraging side to it is, everything sounds almost the same, plagiarism, the pressure to put out new content on a regular basis – which really does water creative works down and becomes mundane or like I said before, sounding nearly the same. If an artist truly understands how they work with their creativity and are confident with it, then social sites will only encourage their growth as individuals and as artists.
Joce: What was the last book you read?
Wanjiku: Half of a yellow sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Joce: What music inspires you to create?
Wanjiku: I am inspired by 70’s, 80’s through 90’s and early 2000’s sounds because I grew up listening to my mother’s music playlist and I like pop too.
Joce: What do you see for trends in poetry in 2019-2020?
Wanjiku: More conventional rules broken hahah! And wonderful creative surprises and ventures.
Joce: What are some obstacles poets face in today’s culture, if any?
Wanjiku: There’s the struggle to be fully branded and marketed before you can find a willing publisher for your body of work irregardless of how good you are due to an influx of poets – which I must add are very talented, and few willing publishers of modern poetry.
Joce: What topics are you drawn to when you write poetry?
Wanjiku: I am very aware of my environment and highly observant so by default I write a lot about life and I love it.
Joce: What are your final thoughts to share with other creative minds who are reading?
Wanjiku: To writers, artists, poets and creatives in their respective fields understand that your work is meaningful, doubt shouldn’t halt your gifts and talents, don’t dim your light. For our supporters, readers and publishers, we can only be grateful for the space our works find on your walls as galleries. As for the critics, I am grateful for your well-meaning feedback but don’t invalidate the creatives’ works without truly understanding it, it would be best to have said nothing at all, clarify and point the positives to encourage then offer constructive suggestions. Thank you so much.