Welcome poet Arit Emmanuela Etukudo.
Arit Emmanuela Etukudo is a Nigerian-American multi-media creator whose work is born and exists in layers. Like the face, it aims to be in control of all the senses. By creating symbol heavy work her objective is to shape what is breathed in, seen, felt, understood and digested by the audience. Her practice focuses on ideas of self and identity.
She received a BA in Cinematic Arts with a minor in creative writing from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2016. During her time at the university she was also involved in theater where she interned at the Baltimore Theater Company and had her short play “HAPPY” produced by the Interrobang Theater Company in Baltimore, Maryland. Her creative writing also led her to being published in the literary journal Bartleby on multiple occasions. While pursuing her degree she wrote and directed many short films, including “Blackbird”, which had many features and won Best animated/Experimental film at the DC Indie Capitol Awards.
In 2017 she began her MFA in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University where she had her start as a self-taught sculptor and began merging her creative skills. During her first year in England, she was part of three group exhibitions, including AfterMath at Nottingham Contemporary. Her visual work has also been exhibited at venues like The Baltimore Creative Alliance and Art all Night DC. Her work also expands to performance and spoken word pieces.
She is currently on Erasmus at Ecole Superieure Beaux-arts in Le Mans, France and plans to continue expanding her work across mediums and countries.
Tanisha D. Jones: Welcome to my blog. I’m excited to introduce you to my readers. First question, how did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
Arit Emmanuela Etukudo: I have had many painful moments in my life and a lot of the time, those moments stay inside of me. They live under my skin and weigh me down. I decided to write this book in order to release them. I believed that if I was honest with myself and my emotions while writing the poems I would be able to find ways of moving on from the pain.
TDJ: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
AEE: My love of storytelling came from listening to my father tell stories. He told stories as though he remembered every single day of his life. From a very young age I have been in love with the art of storytelling, whether I am reader, listener or speaker.
TDJ: My grandfather is like that. 91 years old and can still remember stories from his childhood as if it were yesterday. I think I get my storytelling gene from him.
AEE: I feel like when you grow up surrounded by great story tellers, especially ones that you have a close connection with, you have no choice but to become a storyteller as well.
TDJ: What were your goals and intentions in this book? How do you plan you achieve them?
AEE: My goal with this book was to give people reading the encouragement they needed to release and grow from their pain. I want to create a type of solidarity between everyone that has read and will read this book. I have put the book out there so all I am able to do now is let the people that are guided to it read it.
TDJ: What was the hardest part of writing?
AEE: The hardest part of writing this book was definitely challenging myself not to hold back on my emotions. I wanted the poetry to be as honest to me as possible and this meant that I would have to expose my inner self to the world in a very personal way.
TDJ: I think any good writer has to open themselves up in some way or another. All writing needs to evoke some emotional response.
AEE: Exactly, I think creators in general need to completely open themselves if they want to make truthful work that people can connect to.
TDJ: What inspires you?
AEE: I am inspired by so much; movies, music, stories, people and life in general. Every single part of the universe has the ability to spark new thoughts, ideas and motivations for me.
TDJ: Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
AEE: Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Chinua Achebe are two authors who have influenced me deeply. Reading their work at a young age taught me how to push the boundaries that had been taught to me. Through them I learned to speak and think as magically as I wanted and that I did not have to follow certain rules just because they were the norm.
TDJ: I love Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and I’ve read Things Fall Aprt several times. Now, I’m helping my daughter get through it. She has more insight into in 10th grade than I did in college.
AEE: I feel like people should start reading these artistically challenging books at an earlier age. It’ll open up their creative minds early and give them insights that could really help them in the future no matter what subjects they want to pursue.
TDJ: What process will you go through to get your book published?
AEE: I have published my book through Createspace. So it is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Indiebooks, Alibris and many other sites.
TDJ: What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
AEE: The honesty of my book and the depths that it is willing to reach is what makes it stand out from the crowd. It is a book that connects people through their pain, something that is often hidden.
TDJ: What do you like to read in your free time?
AEE: I enjoy reading short stories and prose in my free time.
TDJ: Anything in particular?
AEE: I like finding new writings online or through suggestions from my friends or sometimes I re-read some stories or prose that I have in the past. I’m constantly reading “Eleven” by Sandra Csineros and “Here we aren’t so quickly” by Safran Foer. These two stories always revive my spark for writing because I think they are written so nostalgically, beautifully and poetically.
TDJ: What projects are you working on at the present? What do your plans for future projects include?
AEE: At the present time I am working on a lot of small visual storytelling pieces where I use self portraits to speak about my identity and my life experience. In the future I plan to continue with both my visual and written work and expand them in all forms, including; film, novels, stage plays and television.
TDJ: I’m sure we will be hearing from you in the near future. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
AEE: Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions.
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