Iroro Azanuwha: Not a typical poet

Some people might say that I don’t look like a typical poet. I’m ok with that.

When I think about “being a writer” the interesting fact is that on and off I’ve always written in the background, but for specifics when we talk about pen to paper I’d say it’s been 18 months of serious writing. My eldest sister was always the writer in the family, a trained reporter. I remember I would always read over her work when she created something new. I was in awe of her talent and had the utmost respect for how she overcame her illness to become a writer.

When she passed away – only a day before receiving her master’s degree in creative writing – I remember standing on the stage with my other sister to collect her masters on her behalf, and it was at that point I decided I must write. I must pick up the torch and run with it and allow the fire from that torch to ignite something within me other than grief. So nearly two years on, I write because she wrote first.

The first time I wrote a poem was when George Floyd was murdered, In fact I wrote two poems. The first was called “The Sound of Silence” and the other was called “8 minutes and 46 seconds”. I haven’t looked back since. I think that’s when my journey into poetry really started. I believe poetry is very much like fine art and an amazing way to share life experiences without any or much interjection. You’re given a slot and with no distractions and you can deliver a powerful message. I think this for me is the real power of poetry. How it can share those messages that feel hard to fit into other forms. Some people might say that I don’t look like a typical poet. I’m ok with that.

I’ve always liked the surprise element in life. I remember seeing a man at an open mic. His name was Paul Potts and he worked for a well-known mobile phone company at that time, he introduced himself and belted out a version of Nessun Dorma that brought the audience to tears. Like I say I’ve always liked the surprise element. So I’m totally cool with this perception because perceptions can be changed and that’s what I hope to do with my work. It would also be great to encourage others to find their own creativity no matter how others perceive them.

The term “Man Up” is dangerous in my opinion because it automatically disregards the emotions and feelings of some men.

I grew up in a very alpha male era. If you showed you had a softer, less abrasive side, it was considered a sign of weakness and not a strength. In addition to that, the number of men I know who are now struggling with severe mental health issues privately because of the inability to express how they feel is enormous and I believe it’s still not highlighted enough. The term “Man Up” is dangerous in my opinion because it automatically disregards the emotions and feelings of some men. But it’s a phrase I hear all the time used to try and encourage young men and boys. My poetry tries to highlight vulnerability and how it’s ok to show this side, it’s almost like breaking the stronghold of society’s labels.

I’m a strong believer that poetry can help you express these kinds of issues. It can be redefined with each piece you write. It can draw you to a person or draw you towards something else. Individually it can be all those things mentioned but personally I find that I pull poetry out of me in such a raw form and then I try to make sense of it. I hope it makes sense to those who read it. And at the very least that they understand my message.

The privilege of being called a poet means so much considering two years ago I was just someone who wrote stuff. I completed my first manuscript last year and I’m now working on my second.

I would love to be a poet that someone else felt that wanted to listen to.


About Iroro

Black and white picture of Iroro looking towards camera wearing sunglassesIroro Azanuwha is a poet from Liverpool – His writing looks at the authentic self and parallels of what is seen and what is unseen. He uses poetry as a platform to communicate individual narratives, thus encouraging others to create their own narrative through words. He believes it is a key component in aiding healthy mental well-being

Twitter: @IroroPoet
Instagram: iroropoet

Photo credit: Colin Potsig. Back to Behind the Words.

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