In the first installment of the Women and Words series, I had the pleasure of interviewing a very talented lady who certainly has a way with words.
Ruth is a Nigerian poet/ writer who loves to express her work, mostly on her blog, anastasiaruth.com. She was a member of Babacock University Literary Art Society (BULAS). She has also co-witten various works with poets and short story writers from all over Africa. Some of her works have been published in the Radioactive and Valzcognition anthologies respectively.
SoulfulMiss: Where does AnastasiaRuth come from?
AnastasiaRuth: AnastasiaRuth is my pen name. I love the name Anastasia so I just put it before my name; Ruth. Some people, however, think Anastasia is my name. I really don’t mind since it means “Rise to Glory”.
SM: At what age did you start writing?
AR: I can’t actually remember at what age exactly it was, but I knew after primary school that I enjoyed words and how they came together to mean just one thing. I think if I hadn’t misplaced my diary, I would have a record of how I started.
SM: What drew you to poetry?
AR: What drew me to poetry maybe music but then again, I never really enjoyed reading anything but poetry. I have read other genres of literature but I have only found myself with an understanding and enjoyment for poetry. In school, I understood poetry and was involved in a creative club. Often times when asked to make presentations, poetry was always my best bet!
SM: At what point did you realise that its something you really wanted to be doing and what encouraged to pursue it?
AR: I tried other genres and settled for poetry as my strength, not because I, soley, think it is but because I have also been told I am good at it. What better way then could I have used to conclude on what I should be doing? Thanks to those who enjoy my work as well.
SM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AR: I am inspired to write by the issues of life. Some from history, some from what I may call a thought on things I think may happen or even what may be happening. Writers, really, are the observers of society.
SM: Is poetry just a hobby that you do in your spare time?
AR: Yes and no. Sometimes it is a hobby and other times it is like a mandate to tell a story using a poem.
SM: Let’s talk day jobs. What’s your 9-5?
AR: I don’t have a 9-5 job. I have a blog that has an audience waiting for a show!
SM: What do you think should be done to make poetry a major art industry in Africa like we have seen the African music industry become in recent years?
AR: I wish we had a poetry museum. If there are any, I know nothing of them. I also hope we have more spoken word artists given platforms to perfect their skills from the day they decide on poetry as their love.
SM: Are you involved in any projects currently?
AR: No, not at the moment.
SM: How do you find time to write with such a busy schedule? How do you manage to juggle and balance everything?
AR: We all find time to do what we love.
SM: Did you have any fears when you started? How did you overcome them?
I thought I was the worst poet alive, but thanks to time I found out that everyone gets better at what they keep doing. I will, however, say that because I am still writing I am still overcoming things. I am a shy person and have never tried spoken word but I admire those who do. So like I said I am still overcoming.
SM: Do you think your gender affects how you or your work are perceived and received by your audiences and peers?
AR: Personally, I have never had someone say, “You write well – for a lady who writes poetry!” And I don’t think anyone should think a man writes better that a woman. So I guess, I don’t know if I am perceived differently.
SM: What’s the one thing you have learnt since you started writing that you didn’t know before and one you wish you knew when you made that decision to start writing.
AR: I have learnt to let poetry flow naturally, without forcing myself to compose a poem out of everything I encounter.
I wish I was involved in poetry groups prior to now. I wish I started writing together with other poets who were already spoken word artists and publishers. Its always good to be around those who know more about what you want to do. I published some of my poems before, something I wish I never did. It was a disaster project for me and even for the publishers themselves. I don’t even like mentioning that I ever did that, thats why it doesn’t appear in my bio.
SM: Any advice for a young girl who wants to follow the same path you took to become a writer?
AR: Keep writing, someone will notice you and your work.
Thank you again to AnastasiaRuth for sparing time from her schedule to share a bit of her world with us. You can find her work on her blog, anastasiaruth.com .
Join me next week as we speak to another inspiring young woman about her journey with words.