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Monday, June 29, 2020

Interview: Yacoob Manjoo

Author name: Yacoob Manjoo
Title of book we’re promoting: Let it Flow
Genre of book: Poetry anthology
Yacoob Manjoo is a South African writer, blogger, and communications professional. His work has appeared in various publications, including The Coinage Book Two: Journal of New South African Writing; ProductiveMuslim.

I met Yacoob through a writer's FaceBook page.  He has several published articles on AboutIslam.net.  Several concern the important holiday of Ramadan.  Here is a link to one on self-care:

Becoming Your Best Self In Ramadan

Here is our interview:

1.     When did you first start writing toward publication?In early 2016, and everything was finished in late 2019. The book is a collection of material I’ve published on my blog, so the content itself ranges from 2006 until 2019. But in between, there were plenty of changes made to the material to get it to the best possible state.

2.     Do you write full-time or around another job? How do you schedule your time to write?My full-time job is in communications, so writing is part of my everyday work. However, the personal and creative writing is done in my spare time. I don’t schedule it, but when I am inspired, I try to take the time out to write. That can be difficult at times, but I do my best.

3.     Where do you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for books?My stuff is mostly poetry, so it’s pretty much everyday life – challenges, joys, reflections…whatever comes, comes.

4.     What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?Trust in your own creative process and output – always stay true to your own heart, regardless of what others may be doing. You have a unique voice and a unique offering to give the world, so don’t try to conform to trends. I strongly recommend reading / listening to the work of Seth Godin – who offers plenty of wonderful advice for creatives (and pretty much anyone putting out a product or service).

Also, that common advice about ‘read everything’…I don’t agree. We’re already flooded with content, and you need to leave mental space for your own creativity to flourish. That can be more difficult if your mind and heart is full of the words of others.

5.     Please tell us about your current release.It’s an anthology of my personal writing – poetry and reflections – called “Let it Flow”. The title stems from the ease with which most of the material came to me – almost as if it just came through me, without me actually doing any work.

The blurb reads: "When inspiration strikes, there’s no choice but to write. You become the instrument through which fears and dreams, hopes and frustrations, and thoughts hidden from the world all flow – cathartically – onto pages that reflect snapshots of life. "Let it Flow" captures a journey of poetic self-expression through the author’s twenties and thirties – evolving from an insecure young man, through marriage, fatherhood, and the toils of adult responsibility. Coupled with spiritual reflections on life and the world we live in, this collection hopes to inspire, uplift, and benefit all who browse its pages."

6.     Can you read / provide us with a small exert? (optional – under 200 words)
Wet, winter days have gone,
sun streaming through once more.

Bare branches –
once naked and alone,
now clothed –
in hues marking the season of rebirth,
as the One Who gives life
displays His inimitable power,
bringing life after death,
light after darkness.

Take lessons from these signs:
for, whilst personal winters may dampen your spirit,
rejuvenation is just around the corner.

And all that you struggled with –
trial after trial, weighing down on an already-tired soul,
will, too, come to an end.

Like the caterpillar
that remains within its chrysalis for a period,
transformation was always underway.

And as time brings a new season,
shed the attachments that no longer serve your development,
and emerge
as one more beautiful,
ready to float through life's currents –
the good and the bad,
all part of the journey
to becoming
a better you.

7.     What exciting story are you working on next?
I’ve gathered enough material for a follow-up anthology in similar vein, but I’m not rushing it at all. I’d like this new one to be a more visual experience, with the graphics complementing the text – setting a mood which settles before the reader gets into the crux of the poem or reflection.

8.     Anything additional you want to share with the readers?In today's world, thousands of books exist to teach and entertain readers. There are also the 'practical' ones - about self-help, business, and much more. Then there's politics and news, causes, and a whole lot more.

But poetry - that follows the path of the impractical. Superficially, that kind of material may be of little discernible value in today’s fast-paced, information-dense, politically and economically-obsessed world. But it's immensely important. As humans, we relate to each other through sharing experiences. Sometimes, if we can convey our experiences and ideas well enough – through a story, a poem, or a thoughtful reflection – the one who receives gains far more than just knowledge, or a temporary thrill. As a reader, you are inspired. Encouraged. The words resonate with you on a deeper level. You *feel*. It’s said that what comes from the heart goes to the heart. Poetry comes from the heart, and it hopes to penetrate the reader's heart in a way that other types of books cannot. That’s why you should give it a chance.

For a far more effective explanation, there’s this little book called “How Poetry Can Change Your Heart” – by Andrea Gibson and Megan Falley. It’s a remarkable read I’d recommend to everyone – even those who feel they have no inclination whatsoever towards poetry.

9.     One more time, where can someone go to purchase your book?The e-book is available on all major platforms, and the print edition is available in South Africa via direct order. I can also ship internationally, if readers are willing to cover the exorbitant shipping costs. Info about the book, including a comprehensive free sample, is at: https://dreamlife.wordpress.com/book

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