“Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal, which the reader recognises as his or her own.” – Source unknown
Poetry is one of the purest art forms, and different cultures have used poetry in various ways. Throughout history, poetry has been used as a tool to express social context, recite History and Law. Its purpose is clear to see in religion and spirituality text and even through the music we listen to today.
The use of poetry is limitless…
You possibly look in front of a mirror every day, to make sure you look presentable to the world before you leave your home. However, what if the mirror could talk? Would it say, how confident and beautiful you are? Or would it tell you about your feelings of insecurity and loneliness? Often, we avoid confronting our true selves. However, poetry allows listeners to connect and explore their inner states inadvertently.
I had the opportunity to speak to an open and honest soul; an eloquent Wordsmith and someone who bravely speaks about love. She is the Author/Poet behind her debut book of conscientious poems, “Firstborn”.
Meet the British-Nigerian poet, Sarah Aluko.
Kofi: Do you remember the moment that sparked your interest in poetry?
Sarah: So, I fell in love with my year ten anthology in secondary school. I still remember the poem ‘half-caste’ by John Agard, and I used to (actually, still do) love watching ‘Def Jam Poetry’ on youtube.
It was something about the way a poet could control the crowd with their words, whether that be in written form or performance. I’ve been writing poetry since I was 15, but only became committed to my craft about a year and a half ago.
Kofi: ‘Def Jam Poetry’ showcase a diverse range of poets with different styles. How would you describe your style of poetry?
Sarah: This is such a difficult question to answer. In fact, I’m not sure if I have an answer. If I had to describe my style, I would simply say, honest.
Kofi: I noticed themes of love, adversity and empowerment, throughout your work, that you’ve published on social media – Do you feel vulnerable when you release your poems?
Sarah: Every single day I feel vulnerable. In my book, I became more honest than I’ve ever been. I delved into dark places that I had hidden for years. I explored my femininity, embraced my transition from a girl to a woman. When you write a book or put anything out there into the world, you have to fight your insecurities daily. Some days I could read my work with glee and other days, I would ask myself why am I even doing this? So yeah, it’s a battle, but you have to remember why you started. I had to write a note to myself to say that I was worthy; my book was worthy, and it deserved a chance to come into this world – I read this note every day.
Kofi: Do you remember the first piece you wrote?
Sarah: The first poem I ever wrote was called ‘My mother gave birth to the streets’ (I still cringe thinking about it), I believe it was about knife crime, but I was young, just trying to find my voice through poetry.
Kofi: Do you have a career outside poetry?
Sarah: I currently work in finance for an investment bank. To be honest, the only link is the one that flows into my bank account. I no longer despise my job anymore, I understand it’s purpose. My hope is to keep investing in myself until my poetry/writing is generating income for myself so that I can solely work for myself.
Kofi: Growing up African – parents usually steer their children to particular careers – Is that similar to your narrative?
Sarah: Well, luckily I have very supportive parents (especially my mum) who have allowed me to explore all my interests, although it did take them a little while to come around to the idea. So like many others, I was living the Nigerian dream and went to University and got a law degree.
I think it is important for parents to support their kids and their dreams. I understand their fear; they often ask themselves, will they be financially stable, do they have a backup plan? But the truth is, every industry can make money. So, if they are worried about finances, maybe instead of dismissing their aspirations as a ‘pipe dream’, they could do some research on the business side of things; show your child that you too are invested in their future, as much as they are.
Kofi: Congratulations on the completion of your first ever book! What made you want to write ‘Firstborn’?
Sarah: It first started, with me dealing with the war that resided in my chest. I wrote, as a way of dealing with my personal issues. I wrote for myself until I started to share my work and realised that so many others felt the same way.
Kofi: How would you describe your journey writing ‘Firstborn’?
Sarah: The whole process of writing to publishing, has taken roughly a year and a half. The journey has been intense, scary, and exciting, but most of all fulfilling. I have learnt so much about myself and business, during this process. I am still learning more and more every day, which can be overwhelming at times, but worth it.
Kofi: What kind of impact do you hope to have on people who read ‘Firstborn’?
Sarah: I hope to encourage others to embrace every single part of themselves, including the parts that are considered to be dark and ugly. I want to remind others that self-love takes practice, it’s as much a process, as it is a decision. It takes small steps daily.
Kofi: If you go back to the moment before you found poetry. What would you tell the young Sarah Aluko?
Sarah: “Start! Don’t be scared, just start.”
I would tell myself that you don’t have to be perfect before you start.
Sarah Aluko debut book, Firstborn is now available worldwide and you can purchase your copy on Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/firstborn+sarah+aluko
You can find more information, about Sarah Aluko by visiting www.sarahaluko.com
You can also find snippets from her new book on her – Instagram @sarah_aluko