June 14, 2024
Interview

10 questions for Basira Idris, moderator for PIN Cross Country Poetry Celebration 2024

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  • April 26, 2024
  • 5 min read
10 questions for Basira Idris, moderator for PIN Cross Country Poetry Celebration 2024

By Eriata Oribhabor

You have just been appointed as the moderator for Poets in Nigeria (PIN) Cross Country Poetry Celebration (CCPC). What’s the initiative about and what are your expectations?
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Cross Country Poetry Celebration, which is an initiative of Poets in Nigeria, is aimed at celebrating the art of poetry and poets on the same day in various locations in the country. This is achieved through uniting as a nation under the same umbrella (PIN), irrespective of ethnic or religious background, as it is focused on a common goal of promoting art and literature. It’s an event where we gather to embrace and celebrate our differences.

Before your appointment, you hosted CCPC Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State. How do you intend to manage the two positions?
Alhamdulillah! Hosting the CCPC Birnin Kebbi was successful because of the love and support I got from my family, friends, and team members. I didn’t do it alone. Meanwhile, as a firm believer in teamwork, I am confident that this additional responsibility won’t weigh us down. I have my team at arm’s reach and plan on inviting someone capable to co-host this year’s event, as I moderate the national.

You are behind Zapoetryhouse which is a fast-growing poetry promotion hub in Nigeria. How did you come about this initiative and how is it fairing?
Zapoetryhouse was birthed from a thirst for seeing poets and poetry enthusiasts unite and support each other without envy or any form of unhealthy competition. I believe that the sky is large enough to accommodate everyone, and we could all shine. One poet’s light doesn’t have to diminish another’s. Again, each poet has his/her unique voice and style of writing; so, we don’t have to be the same to support one another. Unity does not mean uniformity.

About how Zapoetryhouse is faring, we are doing well and our poets are embracing each other’s light. As against an unhealthy competition, we embrace collaboration which is a stepping stone to the betterment of the poetry community.

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Basira Idris

What’s your opinion about poetry appreciation in the country with particular interest in the northern part?
Let me say here that the art of poetry is getting more recognized and appreciated, particularly in the northern part of the country. Of course, I will have to appreciate the resilience of our northern poets who closed their ears to criticism and showed that as northerners, we are who we are. Even when the colonizers came, they met our forefathers as poets and writers. So, poetry is our identity.

What do you intend to do differently this year as moderator?
With regards to this year’s CCPC, we will look forward to having the event in various locations within states and also to collaborate with state governments to see that our message reaches far and wide.

You were rewarded for hosting the most outstanding CCPC event in 2023. What’s your reaction?Alhamdulillah! That was a dream come true. I was proud of our efforts and ecstatic that it got recognized. I mean, it is Kebbi State: A northern state in Nigeria being awarded the most outstanding location out of all the 36 states. Permit me to say that we have the bragging rights for a year and we are using it well!

Do you have a collection of poems in the offing for publication?
A few years ago, I started working on a collection, yes. But I must say we are still taking baby steps in this regard.

What’s your professional area of specialization? Why poetry?
I studied Biochemistry with an interest in nutritional biochemistry. I am currently pursuing an MSc in that field and doing a lot of activities under that. But poetry is my haven. It is what I run to whenever the sun sets and the dawn refuses to break. I always say that I didn’t choose poetry; rather, poetry choose me. This is because as a science student, the perception of a lot of people is that it is impossible for one in my chosen field to excel in arts. But this is something I am passionate about and I believe this voice would never be silenced.

Could you leave us with a stanza from any of your poems?
Here is one from one of my spoken word poems titled ‘If Tomorrow Starts Without Me…’

If tomorrow starts without me,
tell the girlchild to not let her voice be silenced alongside mine,
to take the mandate and shine.
Let the girlchild know that ‘to talk back’ is not a crime.
Let the girlchild know that silence isn’t her second language, and
to say ‘No’ is not a crime.”

What words of inspiration do you have for us?
I will end this with words from one of my poems:

Never waste away your today, live for tomorrow

These words and the entire poem inspires me to live and take chances. I can take out the noise, and be focused… knowing that every second I fail to utilize is a tomorrow diminished.

* Oribhabor, a poet, is the President of Poets in Nigeria (PIN) Initiative

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