“One of haiku’s main appeals is that it focuses on nature or aspects of it. Haiku, in its brevity, captures those special moments in time when all our senses are awakened to the wonders and beauty of nature”
– Celestine Nudanu, Writer
Celestine Nudanu is a Ghanaian writer, a romantic at heart and a book reviewer. Girdblog had a chat with her about her writing life and her debut collection of poetry, Haiku Rhapsodies. We are delighted to share some of Celestine’s insights with you.
Girdblog: Who is Celestine Nudanu?
Celestine: Thank you. A simple question yet very loaded. Who am I? Celestine Nudanu is a middle aged woman who refuses to think like one. “I am a romantic at heart, and love a good romance story, though I shy away from erotica. Almost all my poems focus on love, or aspects of it. I love books. And I would rather buy books than trendy clothes. I’m a strong Christian with my unshakeable belief in the resurrection power of Jesus. I’m a product of the University of Ghana, Legon where I graduated with a BA in English and Theatre Arts, and MA degree in International Affairs. As well as being a passionate reader and book reviewer, I’m also a poet, with a talent for haiku, the short Japanese poetry form. I’m a work-in-progress though. I blog at Reading Pleasure. Yes, and I’m married with three boys. Oh did I forget to say that I love to laugh, at life, at myself and at laughter itself.
Girdblog: What was the inspiration behind your debut collection of poetry, Haiku Rhapsodies?
Celestine: I guess you could say I wanted haiku, the art form, the genre, to take root in Ghana and flourish. I fell in love with haiku two years ago and this love affair drove me to make it well known in Ghana. In actual fact, my fellow haiku poet, Mr. Adjei Agyei-Baah has been writing haiku long before I came on the scene. Another haiku poet Nana Fredua Agyeman indeed was the first Ghanaian to write haiku so far as I know and have it published on his blog. But there has not been any publication in hard print, until my collection.
Girdblog: Who do you write for / Is your poetry about your own experiences?
Celestine: I write for the love and the pleasure of it. My audience are lovers of literature, lovers of poetry especially micro poetry. As a matter of fact, few of the haiku I have published and those on my blog reflect any personal experience. Haiku is basically about nature, one’s observation of it and the fleeting impact it has on one. That moment must be as short as possible, and the impact though fleeting should be deep, invoking all of one’s senses. So my works reflect my observation of nature and yes, being a romantic at heart, I rope in matters of the heart in just three lines. What is life without love and life itself, the spiritual and death? These are the themes that Haiku Rhapsodies explores in just three lines with each of the works in the collection.
Girdblog: What was the hardest part about writing?
Celestine: I must say that writing haiku comes naturally to me. The brevity of the genre appeals to me so much. I love words, you see and I love to play with words. But at the same time, haiku is not easy to write. There are rules to follow, not just writing three lines of seventeen syllables or less. And for me that is the hardest part. The rules. I’m still a work in progress, as I keep saying.
Girdblog: What is the central message in Haiku Rhapsodies?
Celestine: Haiku Rhapsodies is arranged under five main themes or messages: Afriku, nature, love or the romantic which I term haiku my heart, the divine or spiritual and death. Afriku are haiku of African origin, focusing on her rich images, rhythms, and unique settings peculiar to the culture and heritage of Africa. Afriku in its simplest form, also captures thrilling African moments in nature. One of haiku’s main appeals is that it focuses on nature or aspects of it. Haiku, in its brevity, captures those special moments in time when all our senses are awakened to the wonders and beauty of nature; that aha moment when the ‘nickel drops’, and we are in tune with nature. This is what the second theme, nature seeks to portray in Haiku Rhapsodies.
Haiku My Heart are verses written from the heart, just that. Based on observations of human nature, nature itself, family, romantic love and yes, well just a bit of the imagination. They follow no pattern; just the brevity of the words, speaking from the heart to you.And often as is the case, what comes from the heart has a ring of truth in it.
The Divine is all about the greatness of God and our relationship with him. Are we heaven bound? Death the leveller! Is it to be feared, craved or welcomed? These are the questions the fifth theme in Haiku Rhapsodies pose. I dare say that these verses also capture that final moment of our lives in a poignant way.
Girdblog: Why did you choose this genre of writing?
Celestine: (laughs) I didn’t choose this genre. Haiku found me and chose me. I do have some other forms of poetry written though, other short forms of Japanese poetry like the tanka, shardorma. I also write free verse poetry.
Girdblog: What interesting thing did you learn while writing Haiku Rhapsodies?
Celestine: I appreciate nature now, its beauty. And through that I have come to appreciate more the greatness and beauty in worshiping God. When you appreciate nature you appreciate the greatness and magnificence of God. It is so profound and yet so simple an experience.
Girdblog: Are you working on any new writing projects?
Celestine: Yes. I’m trying to put together a second and better, I hope at least, haiku collection. At the same time I’m working on completing my full length novel.
Girdblog: What is a typical writing day like for you?
Celestine: My writing life is not organised at all. Bringing up three boisterous boys hardly gives me any proper schedule. I normally write at the office, during my lunch break or when I’m less busy.
Girdblog: Taking a favourite quote, line or experience from Haiku Rhapsodies, what would you say to that ONE person out there who needs that single burst of wisdom/inspiration to achieve her/his goal?
Celestine: I will give that one person the following haiku to reflect upon. We all interpret poetry differently but I believe these four will talk to that one person; to give him or her that single burst of inspiration.
the precarious road
of a crooked love
keep reaching for the skies
the sound of my voice
above the clouds
tweeting the goodness