Girdblog meets up with Robbie Ajjuah Fantini, author of Talking Robbish to talk about writing and her debut collection of poems. Find our interview with the “warm, friendly and open” poet as follows.
Girdblog: Who is Robbie Ajjuah Fantini?
Robbie: A question that I always find most difficult to answer, I’m shy and quiet but with a sensitivity that picks up lots that feature in my poems. I love laid back atmospheres that allow me to be myself (warm, friendly and open). I’m drawn to unpretentiousness which explains my craze for children. I’m careful about handling people’s feelings which sometimes makes it difficult for me to write some pieces that could be considered ‘too strong’ I do it out of love and I believe real love can never be too strong. I am generous and what I give in any form, I intend it to bring added richness.
Girdblog: What was the inspiration behind your debut collection of poetry, Talking Robbish?
Robbie: After lots of lame excuses and constant prodding from friends, I finally took myself seriously as a poet and with notebooks bursting at the seams, I decided to push fear aside and publish it.
Girdblog: Who do you write for / Is your poetry about your own experiences?
Robbie: I write for children, I write for anyone looking for release through humour, for anyone who is daring enough to look into their hearts and see the ugly side of self. It’s not pleasant, but it’s freeing. Several of the pieces definitely express my own personal experiences, yes.
Girdblog: What is the hardest part about writing?
Robbie: Believing/coming to terms with the fact that I am a writer and that in fact I am writing with a compelling message or story to deliver. For some of the messages, the only way they cannot lose their import is for me to drop them as hard sayings, hard words which could be taken as offensive. It is never my intent, I only have to serve my stuff exactly at the right temperature or lose its ‘done-ness’.
Girdblog: What is the central message in Talking Robbish?
Robbie: Resilience, hope, healing, love and fun.
Girdblog: Why did you choose this genre of writing?
Robbie: I didn’t, that is why I refer to myself as the accidental poet. I actually woke up one morning with a strong compulsion to write, as I did, it unfolded itself in the form of a poem. I didn’t choose this and I wouldn’t have because I always thought that poetry as a literary form was too restricting. I’ve come to love it though. Somehow too, giving in to that has peeked my interest in branching out to include writing short stories for children.
Girdblog: What interesting thing did you learn while writing Talking Robbish?
Robbie: That I cannot suppress what is given for me to express, that when one finally finds expression for one’s passion, it’s most freeing.
Girdblog: How do you come up with the ideas or concepts for your books?
Robbie: I usually don’t decide what to write, I call them random triggers and I can get them at any time at any place, for any or no reason.
Girdblog: Are you working on any new writing projects?
Robbie: I’m writing my first children’s book actually inspired by a poem I dedicated to all children in Talking Robbish. I’m also developing characters for what I hope will turn out to be a series for children also.
Girdblog: What is a typical writing day like for you?
Robbie: I really do not have a pattern I go by when I write. Whenever I get an inspiration, I quickly jot it down. Sometimes, I actually finish a poem depending on the urgency I feel about it; some of them can be that compelling. Perhaps, when I’m further along as a poet, I might develop a process, but for now all I need is for a thought to strike me anywhere at any time, as long as I have something to capture the inspiration, a poem is born.
Now, where I might have some structure is when I’m, proofreading or grouping the poems by themes, then I would set strict deadlines and stick by them, everything else then would have to wait.