A Cup of Coffee with Uchechukwu Nwafor

I'm Uchechukwu Nwafor. Most of my online friends call me 'Will', 'cause the meaning of my name means God's Will. I'm from and currently based in Nigeria. I'm a fashion designer by day and a poet round the clock! I just concluded my apprenticeship in a fashion school, but really the skill runs in our family (my mum and her mum are really conversant) so you could say I just went for a touch up lol! But I'm still hungry to learn more in the fashion field. I'm the youngest of two boys and I love to type in small caps (pretty unruly for a 'writer' eh?) E.e Cummings did so too, so it's cool! (Sorry Uche, I totally edited the small caps for this interview, please forgive me).

When did you become a poet?

I started writing poetry in 2016. A certain writing competition was in circulation then, hosted by a telecommunications company. The link was shared in a WhatsApp group and I just decided to jump on it. It was really good day I guess! And since then I've never dropped my pen. If you're wondering, I never turned in my submission for the competition. I listened to really negative feedbacks when they said it wasn't good enough.

How do you know it was the right medium for your stories? 

Because as corny as it may sound, poetry chose me. Considering how we collided, it was some otherworldly force. My heart really feels at peace after each poem. It's as if I carve my existence into being.

What are you working on next? 

Currently, I have no collective body of work! So my primary goal is to have a collection of poems! (Uche, we know a great little publishing house that would love to work on your first book with you haha).

How do you beat writer's block? 

I just let it run its course. It stops eventually. Immerse self in nature, engage in creative activities, listen to songs, read poems, but most importantly, I always listen attentively and jump on the tiniest voice or chance of a forthcoming poem

Do you feel that sharing your poetry is a vulnerable process? 

Yes and no. There will always be someone or people out there that can wholly relate to what I'm trying to convey and that really builds my confidence whenever I get such kind and graceful remarks. But prior to that, I get tensed that my walls will come falling down because sharing really personal pieces with readers means inviting them in without even knowing if they'll be kind or judgemental. Even the thought of bothering others with my issues scare me

Do you take poetry classes or read books on poetry? 

No I don't take poetry classes. But I think that would be really cool and enlightening! I read books on poetry at any given opportunity. A different perspective is always welcomed!

Do family and 'real life' friends read your work? 

Only a handful of family and real life friends read my work. Truth be told, not everyone gravitates toward poetry 

What does 'good poetry' mean to you?

For me, it's about the transportation to the land of mutual feelings you share with the writer. Imagery is great too, but most importantly it's the ability of the writer's work to live through you. The thrilling serendipity, that feeling lives forever!

What is your writing process like?

First and foremost, I need peace and quiet. I rarely write with music on. I always find it conflicting, as the words in the air collides with those in my head and heart. I originally write on my notepad, but recently I've found myself writing on my phone, because really thoughts hit me at anytime they don't care that the notepad is blocks away. I always jump on the first thought I get. I also can't help to edit while writing, some say it's counterproductive, but really it's been working for me just fine.

What are some common themes you see in your own work?

Love, love love! haha, I mean the world needs more love to topple hate right? But really, I write on whatever my heart is set upon. It really makes me feel content when I get positive feedback on how my poetry tries to cover a wide array of issues. Writing on societal issues also makes me feel more conscious of my place and mark in the grand design of things, no matter how infinitesimal that mark is. art lives forever, so the mark will always be here long after I'm gone.

Who are some of your literary or artistic crushes? 

I'll start with home, playwrights and novelists Chinua Achebe and Wold Soyinka are gods in their own rights. I'm also intrigued by the works of Christopher Okigbo. Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, E.E Cummings and many others have really put out works that I'm utterly enthralled by.


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