Personality of The Month.
We have the pleasure of going head to head with Aminu Muhammad, a professional Estate Manager cum brilliant poet and writer. Respected bards, brace yourselves up as we bring to you this painstakingly honest interview.
PW: Can you tell us a short bio about the man Aminu Muhammad?
AM: I am your normal person. I have professional training in Estate Management and Mass Communication. I write and do photography with two published children books, The Moon and the Stars and Ndakpa in Kuso Forest. My poems and stories have appeared in anthologies. I was on the shortlist of the 2015 AMAB/HBF Nigerian flash fiction Prize. I curate the Arts-Muse Fair, a space for expression of African Arts and culture.
PW: Kindly take us down your voyage into poetry and writing in general .
AM: For as long as I can remember, I loved reading story books right from childhood. I could do anything to get hold of any book with bright coloured cover so I can explore its contents. This thirst grew with my age and when I was a teenager I started reading poetry and learning to write same. Plus, English was my best subject in secondary school although I was a science student. Joining ANA, the Niger State chapter, was the best phillip I needed to push me into the world of writing.
PW: You’re the curator of The Art-Muse Fair. Kindly tell us more about it.
AM: The Arts-Muse Fair is an initiative that seeks to provide virtual and physical space for the expression of African Arts and culture, especially works by emerging writers and artists. It is a response to the need to have Arts and Arts News brought into the mainstream of the media and our consciousness. Often, you find Arts News pushed to the fringes by the media, published sparsely and mostly only weekends. This isn’t helping the growth and development of Arts and Artists. These, and the need to provide a constant stream of News about Arts opportunities such as grants, residencies, and competitions are the driving philosophies of the Arts-Muse Fair.
PW: You’re familiar with Poetic Wednesdays. In what ways do you think PW has made real impact and how can it be better?
AM: PW has widened the space available for creative expression in the North. Although it is an online community of poets that attracts all, it is clear that its followership is rooted amongst poets living in Northern Nigeria. PW has made and exposed new poets whose writings may never be read without the mentoring and publishing platform that the PW provides. I see the PW team loaded with much energy but with less resources to drive the movement higher. I would love to see the PW collaborating more with other Arts Initiatives that may be open to supporting its projects.
PW: What purpose does poetry serve you and what is your favourite style of poetry?
AM: Poetry for me is a vent pipe that gives form and escape to my deepest thoughts. It’s serves to relieve me the burden of holding my tears, fears, dreams and joy embedded in my soul by safely freeing them into tangible oral and textual shapes.
PW: You are a multiple literary awards winner and recently, an AMLA fellow. Would you care to share with us the secret behind such success?
AM: Well, let’s just say I do what I do and I get lucky with others seeing and appreciating. I think the basic truth about life is that one must act first before he can be felt.
PW: Which among your collection of poems would you say is your favourite and why?
AM: I don’t have a favourite poem and here is the reason why, I am still writing.
PW: Apart from poetry? Is there any other form of creative or non creative writing you love or are into?
AM: I write fiction and drama. Photography loves me too as much as I love the new voice it gives me to visually tell my stories.
PW: What are your general literary goals in life and how can they address any social vice?
AM: My concern is the human condition, I’d love to see it better. This is what preoccupies my art.
PW: The literary scene in Northern Nigeria is changing. What would you like to say about this development?
AM: No doubt, the Literary landscape of Northern Nigeria is getting colored with more vibrancy and activities. It is pleasing to see Arts getting pushed from the margin of our society towards the mainstream, towards better appreciation and greater patronage. I attribute this growth to the persistent and consistent output of the various Art Initiatives operating in the region. Writers, Artists and Arts Managers in Northern Nigeria now understand that to wait for the government’s support for arts, which rarely comes at the right time and volume, is to undermine its production and development. We now see private Initiatives focusing on their arts objectives and producing results without much government’s support. Interestingly too, you find most of these Arts Initiatives majorly driven by the millennials. This points to a great prospect for Arts production and management in Northern Nigeria.
PW: Pen name?
AM: My pen name, which I doubt I want to use again, is Al-Ameen Sheikh.
PW: Favourite book?
AM: My favourite book? I have many books I like based on the effect they have on me. But I very much like “The old man and the sea” by Ernest Hemingway.
PW: Who is your PW favourite Poet?
AM: I like all the good poems on the PW. This also extends to the poets with these poems. No favourite PW poet though. I love them all and would love to meet each of them and enjoy the physical company of their distinct poetry and selves.
PW: What do you love to do in your leisure time?
AM: I know no better use of a leisure time than to still use it for learning. But I really do love to travel, physically and virtually, to places and phenomena never before known to me. If I had all the time and money, you would find me constantly travelling, with a pen, notebook and camera of course.
PW: Favourite Sport?
AM: Do I really have one? I just know that I don’t get the thrill others enjoy in soccer. I don’t know why.
PW: Thank you for your time.