It is morning but still dark here. My clock reads 6:35AM but I still feel blind in my room. My curtains starve the room of light and establish a certain types of darkness. There's no power at the moment. I live in a Third World Country that struggles to provide power for 24 hours. Sucks to be a Nigerian because of that and many more reasons but I am in no mood to complain. I grab my phone and check my emails. New rejection letters with kind invitations to submit at a later date. There's one acceptance letter which I get to after scrolling past the rejection letters. I smile in the tiny glint of light my phone gives out.
"A life of doing nothing is death"
— Sylvia Plath
I go to Twitter to read some news, updates and check up on my favourite presses, magazines and writers, poets exactly. Something from there always lights a fire in my heart and I think it's astounding that something so small as a quote or a short text could cause me to open my Word Document application and write.
I write with music playing. I have a rolling playlist that keeps experiencing frequent changes. However, some artistes/bands are never taken away. The likes of Coldplay, Kid Cudi, August Alsina, JCole, Eminem, Lil Wayne. Kid Cudi is my favourite in that list since his brand of music deals with depression and its effects. The fact that one can be smiling so brightly with energy like the sun but still have so many uncomfortable issues that strip off the glow on their face. The music is soothing. Reminds me that the art I create is no different from theirs. Especially Kid. My poetry is intense, introspective and revealing. I write with a heart that has soaked up many tears and unmentionable thoughts about grief, loss and drowning in the shadows of gloom.
I do not write with my computer even if it's what my peers make their magic with. I use my trusted phone. I write with a dictionary application turned on so I can crosscheck certain words that may seem unclear to me. I take time to write so that my prospective readers can enjoy my work to the fullest. I write for myself first but I have realized that having a handful of committed readers is gratifying for me and my mindset. It is comforting to know that some persons enjoy your work. Thrilling even. I can take up to two hours to draft a single poem. Sometimes, I have really good days when I am blazing hot and I write up to five poems in a day. Then there are the days when I struggle within myself to churn out the will to even start a single line. I believe my poems must have interesting starter lines though I do not allow that belief overshadow my efforts.
I try to balance being a poetry reader for Barren Magazine and writing my own poems. There's so little time in 24 hours but still I try to get what I can. I read poems everyday. This is possible due to my subscriptions to Poets.org and Poetry Foundation's online newsletter. It helps me a lot especially in the way of seeing new poets and different styles. I realize that reading more helps sharpen my thought process and I stand by this every time.
I share my work with some trusted friends who offer suggestions on how it can be made better. Over the years, I have noticed a steady growth in the quality of my work and it is amazing, really. Small things really do grow into great thing given time and effort.
'The only luck I know is hard work"
There are days when the body does not feel inclined to make any effort to write and I know this because I start to feel weak, drowsy and lay down for a while. There are also days when my hands cannot stop typing and my mind cannot stop creating mental illustrations of the things I think about. I believe in poetry as a version of art that comforts the pains we all face. It is not a lasting solution but for the fact that it relieves me at times, I cherish it and pour out myself into what I write. Every day is spent emphasizing the notion that I write because it straightens my life and gives me purpose in this cold dark world.
"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences"
— Sylvia Plath
"I write only because there's a voice within me that refuses to be still"
— Sylvia Plath
Michael Akuchie is a Nigerian emerging poet. He studies English and Literature at the University of Benin, Nigeria. His recent work appears in Barren Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Ghost City Review, TERSE, Mojave Heart, Kissing Dynamite, Burning House, Neologism Poetry Journal and elsewhere. He is @Michael_Akuchie on Twitter. He is a Contributing Editor for Barren Magazine.