Women and Words 2018 – Florence John Shirima

Florence John Shirima is a 25 years old Tanzanian poet. Her current day job is at Amana Regional Referral Hospital in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania as an intern Doctor.

‘I wouldn’t live out my passion for health and fitness, teaching (through different platforms), writing and reading. Does seem like a lot, yes, but then I wouldn’t be me if any of these passions weren’t part of my life.’ – Florence John Shirima

What inspired her to take up poetry:

It being a classic means of expression, a podium to air out my thoughts was what attracted me to it. Poetry has been used as a medium of education by some of the people who admire and so I thought to myself what an opportunity to be part of this family. In addition to that, I can’t sing, rap, draw or paint…so poetry was it for me.

Her poetry is:

I would classify it as inspirational. Rarely do I write about love. Not that I find there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that I’m always moved to inspire those who read my work.

Has being a medical practitioner had any bearing on your writing?:

NO! I began composing way before I got myself engaged with the medical field. However, after getting my hands on in the field, poetry has become my beautiful escape as that world – the medical world – can be tiring and exhausting.

On an ideal day, your poetry…:

1. Inspires! I wish the people who read my work get inspired, have faith candle burn just brighter and their hope fragrance be a little bit exotic.
2. Is a Chance. I believe – through my own life experiences, people do need to be reminded that life in a nutshell is a basket gift filled with 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so many more chances that we can take on.

Challenges so far:

Writer’s Block – Just running out of ideas and being empty headed for days. This affected mostly my consistency.
An audience – As I mentioned above I rarely write about love and so that meant I didn’t have a bigger audience and that discouraged me a lot and even made me to want to start composing about love and romance because my fellows who did, got a bigger audience and boy did that break my heart.

Rising over them:

90 days challenge – I once listed to a podcast ( I don’t remember whose I listen to a lot of them) and the person said that to add consistency in his creativity he decided he’d come up with a new idea for his business every day for the next 90 days. And once I read that, a light bulb went on in my head, and I took on a challenge. So every day before I got out of my bed I’d compose a piece about anything. I did so for the next 90 days and after that I didn’t have to worry about writer’s block. My creativity muscle was and still is bulky and juicy.

Stuck to my purpose – We all love attention until it’s the wrong attention. I decided to stick to Inspiration writing because I knew somehow, somewhere I was inspiring people who maybe didn’t feel the need to hit the like button or put down a comment. So I stuck to it….and here I am having this interview. All I did to overcome the discouragement that came along with not having people understand my work was to remember why I do that particular kind of poetry and stuck to that reason.

Poetry in Tanzania:

Times have changed and so should we. I think we should embrace the modern poetry just as people have embraced modern ways of transport and communication. Poets have now come up with very creative ways to make poetry entertaining and edifying as well, so why not?

“Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people” – Adrian Mitchell

I think it’s true. People become poets out of every other reason but to capture the attention of their readers, and they do so by writing what they mostly feel and not necessarily addressing the issues that the society – their readers face. And so most people become irrelevant and so does poetry. Contrary to most poets my emotions are poured out when I’m addressing an issue I know for sure the society is facing but rarely (and I use this term because I have deviated before) do I write about my feelings as though I’m venting.

Who influences your writing:

Khalil Gibran
Maya Angelou

Trends?

I don’t!

Tanzania poetically:

The beautiful stars that ordain the darkest of nights. To these people gaze and find a reason to give tomorrow a try.

One word:

Kanozo. (Since this is not an English word, so I’ll tell you what it means. It means The Ink and Echo) And that is exactly who and what I am.

Footnote:

Often we find ourselves hopeless because we feel alone and think that nobody else understands what we go through. Before you give up, try poetry and find your tribe, like I found mine.

You can find Kanozo on her:

Instagram ID: _kanozo_
Facebook: Kanozo Anecho
Snapchat: Kanozo231
Linkedin: Florence Shirima
Whatsapp: +255683945222
Email: florencejohn2712@gmail.com

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