Poetry brings me closer to myself – Ahmad Abdulsamad

In the third of series of interviews with winners of the PW second anniversary poetry contest, Salim Yunusa interviews Ahmad Abdulsamad, poet and Environmental activist.

Poetic Wednesdays recently celebrated its second year of founding. Can you tell us what impact being a member of this online poetry movement has made in your literary journey?

Wow! PW has really been an enabling platform for me to learn and develop as a poet, all thanks to its very colourful network of poetic minds. I am definitely not the poet I used to be before the PW experience. Some very dear poets I met on PW have unlocked a lot of my poetic ice walls and closed roads. So, it's really safe to say PoeticWednesdays has been a major influence in my evolution as a poet. I can't be thankful enough for that.

What can you say about online Literary Movements and the impacts they make?

They are really doing great. Until recently, poetry has largely been regarded as a grotesque, banal and uninteresting art, meant only for a rare few in the classrooms and the libraries. But thanks to the online literary movement's exploitation of the social media surge, poetry has been able to do what it does best - reinvent itself. Many people now find it as appealing as or even more appealing than other forms of art. It is no small achievement that youths, young teens and even adolescents are now positively embracing poetry; garnering positive energies and cognitive mastery from it, and even going as far as trying to instill their own ideas of self and societal change with it. Their efforts have also helped in creating awareness and bringing problems closer to their solutions. At this rate, poetry will again become the reckoning force it used to be in morphing human civilizations. So, a very big kudos to these movements and their masterminds.

You are a winner of the recently concluded PW 2nd anniversary poetry competition co-sponsored by The Arts Muse Fair.  How do you describe that moment?

It was really a happy one. To be regarded as a poet alone is humbling, so it will always be a thing of joy and honor to win anything that has to do with poetry. Also, huge thanks to The Arts-Muse Fair for supporting movements such as the PW.

What purpose does poetry serve for you and what's your idea of an ideal poem?

Essentially, Poetry brings me closer to myself and to the universe, I am able to truly evaluate and introspect both when I write, and so most of my writings are just a reflection of these. Then I really love the euphoria of that creativeness and flow that just takes you over while at it. I am a human who's mostly on the "energy saving mode", both the mental, the physical and the emotional energy, so my ideal kind of poem is the one that provokes me with its OWN energy, irresistibly jumping me to life, You know... coursing its electric ripples through the still lakes of my soul. That's an ideal poem for me.

Can you take us through a social issue you're very passionate about and what you think can be done about it?

It has to be our poor attitudes to the natural environment. Our social patterns of thoughts and actions have really harmed the planet. The earth is 4,5 Billion years old, mankind is only about 140,000 years old. If you condense the earth's lifespan into 24 hours, then humans have only been here for 3 seconds!
Yet look what we have done to the planet! We have changed the climate, drove animals we met here to extinction, poisoned the air, the oceans and the soil, melted glaciers and destroyed beaches. We now have stronger floods, stronger storms, hotter radiations, warmer air, brief winters and irregular rain patterns. Our water bodies are drying up, the Lake Chad is a heartbreaking example of that. Deserts are getting drier and forests are fast becoming bare lands. We are destroying the earth, the only place that tolerates life in the entire Universe, so much that we are already searching for new homes in mars and the moon - in just 3 seconds of our existence here.

The Good news is that the impending cataclysms that await the future generations can be pacified, if we change our attitudes to nature. We should endeavour to plant more trees as a replacement for the ones we remove, landscape our cities and homes with greeneries, reduce our emission levels, switch to alternative energy sources away from fossil energy, protect natural ecosystems and wildlife, handle wastes responsibly and engage sustainable agriculture. Many UN policies are driving towards solving these problems. It can also begin with you. We did the damage, so it's only fair that we fix it.

What advice do you have for budding writers?

The advice is to read and be yourself - don't write for acceptance. Many budding writers may find the advice too simplistic and ordinary, but there's no other advice that holds water if one truly aspires to become a writer - or anything at all. Read everything that dares to cross your vision, from signposts, to plate numbers, to product sachets to emblems. Just read - randomly and deliberately. You simply can't give what you don't have, and the only way to give content is to have content. The only way to contain anything meaningful is to read - voraciously.