Search
  • guts publishing

Ugochukwu Damian Interview - Cyber Smut

Damian's poem 'Survival' appears in our Cyber Smut anthology. Join us at our virtual launch on 15 September. For pre-orders visit: gutspublishing.com/books

Tell us about your work and how you got into writing?

Thank you. My poem 'Survival' is purely fictional. It revolves around the lives of queer people, and the impact social media can have on them, especially in a hostile environment.


I wrote the poem hoping that my reader would feel connected to the many struggles of being queer—either through access to proper health care, or even hook ups, and in extreme cases, lynching. The poem also explores revenge porn and how such could ripple fear into a queer body. In spite of that, still in the poem there’s fear, dance, and clubbing, which I think is important, and reflects the community, because queer people amidst the push back still find time for joy and laughter. In all, it’s really about what survival is for queer individuals.


On writing, I believe it has always been a part of me. I’ve always had this urge to tell stories, but the kind of books I was exposed to while growing up didn’t help in nurturing that desire. I remember writing this little story at the age of 12 titled 'Table Ten Wahala', which is basically about the dramatic moments my classmates and I experienced in our assigned table at the refectory in secondary school. After which I went off writing for a long time, not until I discovered Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I like to say that my journey into writing isn’t linear, which I am grateful for, because if it were, I doubt I would have stumbled on poetry while trying to hold my writing handlebars properly. So now, think of it as a bicycle handlebar, on one hand is poetry and on the other is prose, and because the process of writing is also a journey, I am trying everyday to have a proper grip of it.

Do you consider yourself more of a prose writer or a poet?

Because I have a stronger grip on poetry than prose, I’d say a poet who writes prose (fiction).


Can you tell us how you arrive at a poem?

It’s quite dynamic. Most times the poem haunts me, and it usually comes as a line, that keeps throbbing my mind until it’s written and then I try to build it up, not knowing where it would lead. Sometimes I figure out in the middle of the poem, and then rework the whole draft to properly beat into shape, other times it takes multiple drafts to discover the purpose of a poem.


What are your ambitions?

In response to a question like this, my mind always sways towards Ellen Bass’s poem 'The Thing Is'. In a part, she writes, "To love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it." I think that line sums up my ambitions.


You are currently interning as the Contributing Interviewer for Poetry at Africa in Dialogue. Can you tell us about this role?

I finished the internship a few months after sending my bio across. Nonetheless, Africa in Dialogue is an interview magazine that archives creative and critical insights with Africa’s leading storytellers. As a Contributing Interviewer for Poetry, I had the opportunity to interact with Africa poets, usually in a long, free flowing, organic conversation. It’s important to note that the dialogues are not pre-planned, and as such give room for more flexibility, which I think is the beauty of it.


How do you feel about being published in an anthology called Cyber Smut?

I’m so glad that my poem found a home here, and also grateful to be part of this community of writers pushing boundaries with the anthology. I have been reading the introduction of Cyber Smut over and over again, and I think we cannot overemphasise how important it is to tell stories of how technology shapes our lives, both in a smutty way and otherwise. I’m excited and can’t wait to dig into the anthology.


Can you describe yourself in three words?

Non-conforming. Reticent. & Sad.


* * *


Ugochukwu Damian, Nigerian writer & poet, is the 1st Runner Up in the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2019. He was one of the 21 mentees in the second cohort of the SLM Mentorship Programme and an alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop. His works have appeared/forthcoming in African writer, The Rising Phoenix Press, Barren Magazine, The Penn Review, and elsewhere. He is currently interning as the Contributing Interviewer for Poetry at Africa in Dialogue.

43 views

©2020 by Guts Publishing. Proudly created with Wix.com