In this interview, a new author talks exhaustively about his new book. Sarafadeen Ibrahim, popularly known as SA Ibrahim on social media platforms, discusses his debut chapbook titled 'Rebirth' with The Scribe Post. Rebirth was published by Authorpedia, alongside other chapbooks on 25 September 2020.
TSP: Tell us briefly about yourself.
I am SA Ibrahim. A poet, content writer, and copy editor. I would just like to call myself a writer, simply. I do commercial writing. I do academic writing, and personal writing. I am also an SEO expert.
TSP: Tell us something about your debut chapbook.
My debut chapbook is a catalogue of documentaries. Before I was chosen into the list of the ten authors whose chapbooks would be published by Authorpedia, I had nursed the thought along the line of my writing career to have a chapbook, or a collection that would be a documentary of my mental health challenges. It's basically a documentary of my mental health challenges, most of which I personally faced, while a few of them are not what I experienced first hand. It addresses issues around mental health, hence the name Rebirth.
TSP: Tell us about your journey around writing.
Formally, I would say my writing journey started in 2018. It started on a refutational basis. In 2018, there was a wave of trends about sex dolls, pop psychology, the media trying to justify the acceptance of sex dolls. And being a humanist, I so much appreciate the complexity of the human body and believe it's one of the forces that drive the universe. If humans were not in the universe, I don't subscribe to the school of thought that the universe would keep existing. So I felt I had to refute this. I wrote my first refutational article on why sex dolls should be inexistent, or why they are needless. My mom writes, and as I can remember some years ago, she would give me essays to write, and she would mark them. I can't entirely call them writings basically. When I read the essays years later, I was doubtful I wrote them, because I don't remember so much from my childhood. So, basically, I can say my writing journey started in 2018.
TSP: How long did it take you to write Rebirth?
The poems in Rebirth were not written once. Some of the poems were written when I was in my therapy last year. For example, Self Harm was written when I was still in therapy. Same as Personal Effect which is the first poem in the chapbook—they are like confessions. Some of the poems were written last year, some others were written this year. But the first poem 'Personal Effect', which is the oldest, was written when I was still on mental therapy.
TSP: What inspired you to write 'Rebirth'?
My mental health challenges inspired me to write Rebirth. I felt a lot of people, specifically Nigerians, can not, or find it difficult, to relate to mental health challenges. And this makes us as a people minify the challenges of people who are mentally challenged. We minify their pains and address it as if they were cowards. I didn't know much about mental health, until I was hit by it. I feel the experiences of people with mental health challenges should be brought close to Nigerians. This could make them more empathetic, sympathetic, and it could make them guard their own mental health, too. So, in a bid to personalize it, I had to write for people who are still depressed, schizophrenic, people who still have high anxiety levels, bipolar disorders and other disorders that put them awake for weeks, and deprive them of balance. There is so much importance on physical health that we forget mental health is equally important. If you have malaria, you could easily buy a malaria drug at an affordable price. But the price of mental health is expensive in Nigeria. In cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, an hour and thirty minutes of therapy session can be as expensive as #20,000-80,000. All these inspired me to write Rebirth.
TSP: Has publishing changed how you feel about writing?
Publishing is just a start. Personally, I have an issue with identities. I have always run from being tagged a poet. I feel I am not good enough to be called a poet. But as Rainer Maria Rilke says in most of his essays in which he drives home the importance of ascribing to a tag. So, publishing hasn't really. I do hope to publish more books, more collections in the mental health aspect. I feel being published is a burden as people expect you to attain a certain standard in your writing as a published author.
TSP: What are you reading presently?
I do not read a book, just a book at a time. For poetry, I'm reading Arrival of Rain by Adedayo Agarau for the third time though. Also, I'm presently reading Nawal El Saadawi's The Essential in which she has essays about modernism, politics, feminism and what have you. And David Daniel's October 21st.
TSP: Who are your favorite Nigerian poets?
This is a huge question. Well, I do not have a poet majorly as a model. But I read more of some poets than others. In no particular order, Pamilerin Jacob writes well. In fact, when my chapbook got published, up to six of my readers asked if I read Pamilẹrin Jacob, I said I do read him a lot. I've read 70% of his published works. He writes about mental health, too. Nome Patrick Emeka, Jeremiah Agbaakin, Wálé Àyìnlá, Kọ́láwọlé Adébáyọ̀, Rasaw Malik Gbolahan, Agunbiade Kehinde, Jide Badmus, Adébáyọ̀ Àgàràú, Àrẹ̀mú Adams(I used to model my poems after his poems), Osawaru Praise, Samuel Ugbechie, Tukur Loba Ridwan.
Rebirth can be downloaded for free using this link: https://www.wrr.ng/download/
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