Annastasia Uwandu Chinonsois the winner of Wakaso Monthly Poetry Prize organised by the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation for January, 2020. The prize which carries N20, 000 cash is sponsored by Aisha Wakaso. Annastasia is an Abuja based Poet who loves to express her emotions in lines and ink, reason why she writes better in first person singular pronoun. She is a 300 Level undergraduate of Mathematical Science at the University of Abuja. She loves to smile. Also, she is a brilliant contortionist. Here, Olumide Ojo Emmanuel engages her on her idea about poetry.
TNR: Poetry, what is it to you never felt and defined by any writer?
ANNASTASIA: I think poetry accepts me, I see poetry as a shell that I can always crawl in, to gain relevance. I do not just see it as genre of literature, to me, it’s a genre of respiration, where you inhale figures of speech and exhale your own emotions freely in other to live a pain-free life.
TNR: What is poetry doing between you, its maker, and the environment in which you live and make it?
ANNASTASIA: I think poetry is playing a great role in shielding me from the pellet’s mediocrity. In a world where everyone seems to be in competition with one another, one needs extra abilities, talents, looks, affluence, and a whole lot of them to be unique. This is the major role of poetry in my life.
TNR: Poets often talk about the spiritual essence of poetry, what is that?
ANNASTASIA: Sometimes, the need to write makes me want to meditate, be emotional and bare my soul to my body, I think it is a very easy portal to connect to my subconscious mind, something that no other physical activity does for me. Nothing has ever been more spiritual.
TNR: What is that personal feeling, observation or even conclusion that keeps coming to you as a writer of poetry, on the element that will set you apart from the poetry written by others, in the years to come?
ANNASTASIA: If I said consistency, I would be lying big time. With the little experience I have gathered over these few years of writing, I have come to conclude that writing your feelings is the key. There were these times I had forced myself to write yet, I find it difficult to put down even an alphabet. I don’t write because I want to rhyme because in the course of it, I end up, not passing the intended message. I don’t write because I want to play with words although, I enjoy it so much. As difficult as it may seem to be, I try to look beyond depths, write my soul then, if there is any room for wordplays, I call them bonuses!
TNR: Sorry, why are you writing poetry?
ANNASTASIA: Strange as it may seem, I think writing poetry has helped to keep me away from suicide. Most time in depression, it has helped me to write down my sadness and I think it’s better reading sadness from a page than actually feeling it. That’s why I enjoy writing poetry.
TNR: Tell us five profoundest lines of yours, ever. The ones you thought were the living words, to have come out of you in poetry, prose, essay or any form of your art?
ANNASTASIA: My profound lines… Ehhm… I have a lot of profound lines but I won’t call any one my favourite as most of them seem to resonate sadness but one line that comes to my head whenever I think of poetry is “They thought they had buried the fruit of my existence and gave me pains to console me. But they never knew I planted those pains and watered it daily with my sweat tears and blood”
TNR: Which poet or literary piece has had the most influential mark on your writing?
ANNASTASIA: I can’t lay my hands on any literary device at all. I am a poet who doesn’t enjoy reading. And as for the poet that inspires me, Ananastasia is her name.
TNR: Do you consider poetry as the greatest of the literary art?
ANNASTASIA: Yes, I consider poetry as the greatest of the literary art because it’s my favourite.
TNR: What do you consider as the most astounding ingredient in any poem?
ANNASTASIA: I would consider Depth, Message and most especially, Point of View. I think writing poetry in first person helps me to pass my messages clearly without losing any of its contents.
TNR: What other form of poetry have you tried writing?
ANNASTASIA: I hate to write poems where I’d have to follow certain rules, so I enjoy writing free versed poems.