Salaam, fellow poetry lovers! Hope you are all doing splendid. My name is Hana Aw-Dahir and I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia but raised in Canada, Alhamdulillah. I feel I am dimensionally different and try to live in a manner where attaining knowledge and life experience is my inspiration for poetry. At the end of the day, I am human being with great faults and even greater attributes.
When did you first start writing poetry and was there any particular incidents in your life that inspired you to write?
I started writing poetry at the age of 18 and the first poem I ever wrote was for my high school graduation ceremony. I was part of the committee and was asked to write a speech for the evening festivities. I wrote a poem instead called Eclipse and it’s a short poem describing how time is ever so fleeting in the midst of moments. I still remember that day and poem fondly.
What does "being creative" mean to you?
Being creative is forgoing all restrictions and expressing yourself in a manner that transmits the message within your soul. It is something that is unique to all of us but few exercise that ability. What hinders our ability to be creative can be a fear of judgement, inner self doubt or that feeling of being exposed. I love to share my work because it allows me to illuminate on all the injustices, cruelty, and poverty that is sometimes not displayed within the media. Being creative allows me to get outside the box while sharing my findings with others, so they can do the same. Creativity is a fun process no matter how you choose to share.
As well, I try to keep in mind when I write this magnificent Islamic quote, “Whoever among you sees an evil action, then let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.”[Muslim] As long as I write, I will continue to uphold this message of making a change if I am unable to so by hand, In Sha Allah.
What do you try to communicate with your poetry?
What I try to convey through my poetry is images of struggles, hurt and resilience, which are the human condition. I don’t force myself to write; rather I try to let a moment or a feeling engulf me while regurgitating the message to paper. Anything can inspire me but lately the reoccurring theme within my poetry is hope. What I mean is, everything can crumble around us but if we have faith in Allah (God), there is hope for change even in the bleakest situations, if we believe. Also, I feel I need to be a freedom writer and talk about the struggles of Somalia, Africa, and Canada to bridge the gaps of humanity. Even though so many things divide us, more things unite us as creations of the creator. So, I try to convey that in a story style type of poetry which is in line with my ancestry.
What do you do when you go into a dry spell of some sort or how do you write another piece when you have been away from it for some time?
I usually don’t have dry spells because there is always something to talk about. Once life ends for me, I will stop writing poetry because there will not be a need after death. What helps me write is “doing the different” as I like to call it. It means constantly doing something apart from the norm. This could include: attending an unusual event, reading a random book or conversing with someone new while waiting for a bus. Always being open to life, new experiences and seeing beauty of simplicity of things, allows me to constantly find something to write about. Also, I find some poems need to marinate meaning you start but finish at a later time. I find those poems are usually written better and with a clearer message. Regardless, writing puts me into a great mood, Alhamdulillah.
Do you sit and think through every word of every stanza or do you just write freely and allow the words to flow?
Usually, what brings me to write is a need to grab a pen and paper and frantically transcribe what is permeating through me. To be honest, I don’t know the direction, length or the feeling I am conveying until I have completed the poem. Occasionally, I am even taken back by my own writing because sometimes it’s lost in translation to me until it’s done. I know it’s kind of weird but it’s something I have grown to admire within myself. I feel it is a blessing/gift and therefore, I don’t put restrictions on something as beautiful as writing.
Who are some of your favorite poets?
I don’t have a favorite poet, unfortunately. I usually don’t read other poets work because I feel it may affect my own style. That being said, I do love me some Maya Angelou like everyone else for her open candor and lyrical beauty of her work. Also, my home girl Sharon K is an up in coming poet who I admire but besides that I don’t actively search for others work.
What advice do you have for aspiring poets? Any word of advice for closet poets?
My advice to aspiring poets is to believe in yourself; the message within you and the power of your God given voice. A single voice, no matter how shaky, how quiet or underdeveloped can produce a change. Just a few years back, I only wrote poetry for the sake of writing but I soon realized words are merely words until they are spoken from heart of the writer. Once expressed something magical happens. People start to understand you or at least appreciate your message or relate to what you have conveyed. It’s a wonderful feeling to leave a piece of you on stage, once you have performed a powerful poem. As an aspiring poet, do not fret, merely take your time and breathe. Start with writing and then reading out loud to yourself, and then sharing it with one other person you trust and branch out from there until you are comfortable to perform. Also, I found it helpful to find likeminded individuals who share my passion for poetry. My friend Sharon and I would challenge ourselves by picking a topic, writing for two minutes and sharing with each other what we have written. It was neat to see the different styles and direction each of us would take for the same topic. Lastly, to those writing for the first time, don’t try to be anyone else but you. I mean those who mimic other styles and have lost their inner voice within themselves. Simply be you, be true and always be genuine in everything you do :)
Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank TNP for this opportunity to be featured and for showcasing my poetry since 2010. Also, I would like to thank my family, friends and my community for being so supportive in pursuing this once seen hobby. Big shout out to my siblings for being amazing, supportive and snapping the loudest in poetry events while always reminding me to continue what makes me happy. God blessed me with each and every one of you, Alhamdulillah. Also, I would like to thank Allah (SWT) for providing me with another means to expressing and challenging myself. Lastly, thank you for taking the time to read about me, Hana Aw-Dahir.