Egged on by his childhood years’ literary passion nurtured by his parents, Chima Ihebuzor gradually asserts himself in a turf peopled by past and current giants and brimming with the promise of new story tellers. Ahead of the launch of his maiden published work, The Power of Dreams: Century of Poems, he spoke with Stanley Nkwazema
Please could you briefly walk me through your literary background?
My name is Chima Ihebuzor, a rookie author preparing to launch my first literary work – a collection of poems. I reside in Abuja with my father and two brothers. Writing has been a passion since I was a teenager and I have always liked reading and discussing books. Now I am getting set to make a career out of this passion.
When did you start writing?
I began writing at about 15. My secondary school, the International Community School (ICS) would often give me literary projects to do. I always loved the stories I had to read for literature classes and I always had a good time writing about and analyzing stories. I also had a certain talent for writing poems. I once had a poetry slam in ICS where I read one of my poems and got a good reception. For a while I slackened in writing but over time, regained my passion. This project started when my dad convinced me to write 12 poems in one week as a project. When he saw how good the poems were, we decided to expand it some more. This was sometime in 2016.
What is the focus area of your poems?
It’s a cross between psychological and sociological writing. Like how certain events or traditions can affect certain people. For example, how colonialism impacts a people or how war can sunder a family.
How many pages is this poetry book and what do you hope to achieve with the work?
It is 128 pages. I hope that with the success of this work of poetry, I can continue my writing career and hope to expand my writing expertise to include novels because it is where the real success is these days
What inspires you?
It can come from something I hear on the news, a certain event or occurrence. Inspiration can flow from even thoughts, how I am feeling right at that moment or even certain feelings I have had in the past; like something that made me happy, depressed or scared me.
How long did it take you to compile these poems?
This book contains a few literary works I had written in the past but I did not really start the compilation till 2016. I concluded it in 2018. So it took me three years to complete it.
You said you are dedicating this book to your mum. Why?
My dad also encouraged me to start this project, but my mum has always been very encouraging of me and my brothers. She talked about how much I read and how much I loved writing. As much as my dad was the one who gave me the idea to start this project, my mum was also pushing and encouraging me to do it as well. She gave me the courage to dig deep into myself and push on with it. She pushed me to be passionate about things. From a young age, she saw how much I loved to read and how much I loved writing. Without her, this project would not have come to fruition. That is why I dedicated this book to her.
What did you study for your first degree?
I studied Law with Criminology in Hull for my first degree. I studied Literature and English in Nile University for my Master’s degree. I wanted to do Literature in English because that is what I was really passionate about.
How do you feel about your mum’s absence at this crucial moment of the culmination of your dreams?
I am sad that she is not here to see it. But at the same time I feel that she is proud of me for having done it at all and I hope that I can continue to make her proud even if she is not here. This means a lot to everyone in my family – my father, my brothers and myself. I know if my mum was here, it would have meant so much to her.
My siblings are also encouraging. They even ask me about it sometimes and whenever I feel like writing a poem I share it with them.
Are you a member of the Abuja Literary Society and who are your mentors?
Yes, sometimes I share my poems with the society? I have Dr. James Ile who was my literary Lecturer in Nile University and the recently deceased Ikeogu O.K. He won a literary prize. I listed a poem and a reference he wrote. He read my poems and he was very encouraging to me and it meant a lot to me.
So what is your launching date?
The date is November 3, 2019 and its taking place in Owerri. That’s my father’s town and basically where my family members often gather for special occasions and I want to believe that this is a special occasion.
What is the title of this poetry compilation and what inspired the title?
‘The Power of Dreams: Century of Poems’ is the title. The compilation has over a hundred poems and the Power of Dreams is something I’m motivated by. Literature is something I love. This is me saying how dreams can come true. This is something my parents have motivated me to believe and my teachers that I have had the pleasure of been taught by have motivated me to believe.
Your counsel to youths – from age 16 to 26?
Stick to whatever you’re passionate about; always drive yourselves towards it. If you feel lost and alone, never be ashamed to seek help. Do not be ashamed to ask for advice, if there are things you don’t truly understand.
Who proofed your poems and would you like to continue writing or go into academics?
I had my father, Dr. Ile, Mr. Ikeogu and a friend of the family Mr. Ekpo proofread the poems. Mr. Fabian Okogu published the book via his publishing firm in Nigeria. Oh yes absolutely I want to continue with my writing, hoping that in the next two or three years at most, I will have a novel prepared. I also want to publish more poems and have a better collection.