This is something new that I’ve been working on, which is what I like to call mini-interviews. This is where I ask some questions and the author of this month’s book, Ms. Bah, will answer them and provide a little more information about herself, the book, and her journey to get here. This is so that you (the readers) can get a peek into the mind behind the words and stay connected to her on social media.
Here’s a little more about Ms. Bah and her journey to bring you Black Girl Shine, which I’m almost done reading! Yes, her book review will come at the end of the month. 😉
C Jaye: Tell the readers a little about yourself.
Ms. Bah: Hey fellow book lovers! I’m Aissatou, a bilingual copywriter, wellness blogger, and poet. I began writing poetry 10 years ago and Black Girl Shine is my first globally-published work. When I’m not writing or editing, I like to take in what my city has to offer in terms of music, food, arts, and culture.
C Jaye: What inspired you to write this book of poetry?
Ms. Bah: I was at a point in my life where I felt ready to share this story about growth and self-discovery. At this point, I had created enough written poetry in my notes, which all had a common theme. Ultimately, I decided to put together this poetry book that was very much inspired and made possible by the Black people and female leaders in my life.
C Jaye: How did you get into writing poetry?
Ms. Bah: I was always a fan of quotes, which to me, are impactful and inspiring words similar to poetry. So, I began reading more poetry, including modern and traditional works alike, and decided to write my own by filling up notebooks and diaries.
C Jaye: I’ve noticed that there are no colors used in your illustrations. Why is that?
Ms. Bah: This was the designer’s choice, which I really appreciate. The illustrations are meant to accompany the most meaningful moments in each piece. I invite readers to fill in the blanks or imagine the images in colour if they wish to do so. That would be really cool!
C. Jaye: Did you draw the illustrations as well?
Ms. Bah: I wish! My illustrator is Rabi. You can view more of her work here.
C. Jaye: Which two poems are your favorites? Why?
Ms. Bah: This is such a difficult question! I have many favourites, but ‘Black Girl Shine’ would be one of them as it’s the very first poem I wrote for this book. The other poem I really love is ‘The King’ because I wrote it like a mini-story and included it to acknowledge the Black male figures in my life who’ve stood by me in times of hardship.
C. Jaye: From start to finish, how long did this process take (to complete the book)?
Ms. Bah: It took me three years. This amounts to about a year and a half to write all 100 poems, half a year for editing, and another year for hiring people to finalize the work. You can find more details on my process here.
C. Jaye: How did you push through writer’s block?
Ms. Bah: I took breaks when I needed to. This book is like my baby so even though I was eager to share it, I still wanted to do it well!
C. Jaye: Where is your favorite place to write?
Ms. Bah: My bedroom! You would not believe the amount of times poems came to me while I was trying to go to sleep, haha. I kept my phone and a notepad on my night table for just that reason.
C. Jaye: What would your advice be for others looking to write or publish?
Ms. Bah: You should do it and you can do it! Create a rough outline of what the book will look like and then get to writing. In terms of publishing, there are several different routes. Do your research to find the best option for you.
C. Jaye: What is next for you? Are there more books to come?
Ms. Bah: Right now, it’s all about spreading the word on Black Girl Shine. I’m also currently working on a poetry chapbook, which will be centered on mental health.
If you want to find out more about Ms. Aissatou Bah, what she’s doing now, and what she’s up to in the future; please find her on social media: Twitter, Instagram (personal), Instagram (poetry), Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.