Monday, March 28, 2011

Binyerem Ukonu - The Water was Hot (Guest Author)

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Binyerem Ukonu of Ink Upon my Paper is my guest author for today, and he'll be telling us about his debut short story collection, The Water was Hot, in the interview that follows. You have to pick up his book, I provided part of the blurb and it is truly an engaging read.

Tell us about yourself, a brief autobiography.

My name is Binyerem Ukonu. I first became a writer before I was called to learn how to design houses for both family living and office purposes. That is to say that I’m an architect. I am the only son of my parents, although my mum is late. I have five sisters, and all of them are older than I am. So, I have always had anything I’ve always wanted, and also people to fight for me out there, both in prayers and combat (laughs). Now, I am an author of two books – a collection of poems titled Ekwurekwu (a meal of verse), and The Water was Hot, which is a collection of short stories published in Delhi by Serene Woods. I was born in 1982.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always loved poems and the art of writing poetry. I always felt poets drew strength from a deity somewhere. How else could they have written those beautiful lines? I became a poet in 2002, when I lost my mother – Lady Georgy Ukonu. It was when we went into her bedroom to gather her belongings together that I found her chapbook of poetry. This is where she wrote either her poems or poems of other poets. I read from one line to the other, and felt the words taking over my head. That was how I became a poet. Then, I wrote for myself, and never wanted anyone to read my works, for the fear of criticism. A friend of mine, one day, stumbled upon a poem of mine that was carelessly kept. He read it, stole a few lines, and went to win himself a girlfriend with it. I had confidence in my works when I heard that from him. I’ve written a lot of poems, and many of them are online presently. My short stories, too, are gaining audience.

What inspires you to write?

(Laughs). This is one question I’ve always prayed not to encounter, because I’ve always heard or read other authors answer this same question. It’s scary. But I must say this. I’m inspired by chaos. And someone I told this, recently, told me to relocate to Sudan, where chaos is like street lights. But sadness inspires me most times. I am also inspired by the environment and the happy people in it. Most of my friends are becoming careful with me these days. They do not want to play a role in my stories. This makes me laugh. So, you can say that I’m a bit complex.


Discuss one of the stories in your book.

The Water was Hot, the theme story, is about a woman who fights through life with cancer, and gains strength from the love and unity that envelopes her family. A few times, people rumored she was dead, because no one saw her for a long period of time. One thing I most enjoyed while writing this story was how fast I was with it. It felt like I was writing a story that someone had already written before. I felt I was doing the right thing. And I cried most of the time. I felt fulfilled, knowing I had gotten to the end. Today, I read those lines, and they are like reading a story written by someone else. The main character became a person. A voice.



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