Q&A with Nnadi Samuel

A collaged image, consisting of a protrait of Nnadi Samuel, the cover of issue #19 Echo, and a rectangle of red rockface texture. Nnadi has dark skin and wears a long-sleeved light-red and white striped shirt with gold embroidered detail on the front. His hair is dark and cropped short on the sides. He is looking off to the left with a serious expression.

NNADI SAMUEL is a graduate of English and Literature from the University of Benin, who lives in Lagos (Nigeria). His works have been previously published in PORT Magazine, Gordon Square Review, Seventh Wave Magazine, Rigorous, The Blue Nib, The Elephant Magazine, Inverse Journal, Journal Nine, Eunoia Review and elsewhere. He won the Splendors of Dawn Poetry Contest April 2020, got shortlisted in the annual Poet’s Choice Award and was the second-prize winner of the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize (EOPP) 2019 contest. His first chapbook REOPENING OF WOUNDS is forthcoming with WRR Publishers. He is a co-reader at U-Rights Magazine. On Twitter he is @SamuelSamba10.

Our Associate Editor, Sam, interviews Nnadi Samuel about his suite of poems in #19: Echo.

Your suite of poems, ‘An Event of Sighs’, seems to turn over a few very personal themes. The poems are shaped by impressions of grief and loss, processing relationships to parents, and the active state of holding emptiness. Was this a difficult suite to write? What do these poems mean to you?

This particular suite of initially five poems, ‘An Event of Sighs’, proves very personal, considering the fact that I wrote them in my most vulnerable state. At that time, I had a lot of doubt about myself & the little things I do for poetry. These poems mean a whole lot to me, as they touch on sensitive issues— especially, the habit of my father who talks less when he is in dire need. Here, I find myself inheriting a large portion of his silence, which deprives me of the benefits to trade words with my peers & siblings. Writing this suite came naturally for me, even though the choice of words was quite difficult, as it ought to be. And, it all felt like a found solace, becoming a more permanent resident in my thoughts, when it found a home here with Suburban Review.

The whole suite seems to be aware of its own linguistic construction, and is playful in its treatment of language. Do you find that your writing process is an intentionally creative engagement with language?

Yes, I do find my writing process an intentional creative engagement with language. Being a student of language myself, I love to experiment with words a lot. I love rhymes, wordplays & an implied meaning on serious subjects, running across lines. That has always been me, since my first art. Which is, however burdensome, because I try to mime every phrase in my head before spilling them out, & coming back to it long after I must have left. I love my quiet times a lot, & sometimes I get in trouble rummaging for such in our small shack.

Are you working on anything at the moment? Where can we find more of your work?

Yes, I’m stocked to be working on my second chapbook, Subject Lessons. A bit of an experiment, where I cull terms from various elementary knowledge into my poems, to depict the human experience. Although, a little backlog from work, I am more excited for the feedback gotten from a few submitted, & hope to get the rest out in due time. In the meantime, my first chapbook, Reopening of Wounds, (a compilation of old poems), came out yesterday (25th September, 2020). Here is a link to download for free.

You can also find some of my works online.

Here, a few links:

Makeshift Borders

Seeking Greener Pastures in Symptoms That Fevers Me

For Boys lacking little things as Sleep


Lunaris Review, Issue 12

Many thanks for this amazing opportunity to share.