Good Morning and welcome to another bi-weekly edition of my interview series. Today, I’m interviewing the talented, inspiring, seventeen-year-old, poetess, and writerNelly Mgendi who prefers to be called Nelly Cherry from the blog Nelly Cherry. Please take time to visit her site, she has many gems of poetry to be read.
1. Nelly, Please Tell Us About Yourself:
My birth name is Nelly Mgendi but I have adopted the name Nelly Cherry and that is the name I prefer to go by. I am Tanzanian by birth and currently living in Kenya.
In a nutshell, I am adventurous and I like to discover new things. I’m funny and as some would say, I am quite the drama queen. I was also raised in a humble religious home.
When I was younger, I never liked poetry or writing whatsoever, even though, I was a huge fan of reading books. Back at home, people didn’t think of me as anyone extraordinary, as someone who had hidden talents. All of that changed when I came to Kenya where I am treated with love and have support. People don’t see me as the plain and uninteresting “Nelly Mgendi” but “Nelly Cherry,”a girl who is full of surprises.
Moving to Kenya made me realize there is more to who I am as person than I or other people thought back home. I found a passion for writing in Kenya. At first, I hated it, but I grew to appreciate writing and learn about writing and creativity in-depth. Today, I love writing and cannot live without it; writing has made me a better person.
As the saying goes: “ Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This was extremely applicable for me and how I judged writing before I fell in love with it.
2. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
I considered going into writing when I was about to finish my O levels in school. I bought a journal to express my thoughts and started writing. Through social media I saw various different blogs, and decided blogging my writing would be a great idea. Before WordPress I joined Blogspot, a blogging platform I didn’t enjoy. So, I signed up for WordPress where I felt welcomed by a wonderful and warm community and my dear friend Vester Miles.
I decided to permanently, use WordPress for my social media platformfor writing.
“Today, I love writing and cannot live without it; writing has made me a better person. As the say goes: ” Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This was extremely applicable for and how I judged writing before I fell in love with it.” – Nelly Cherry
3.What Does Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
Poetry is my comfort zone because it is where I get to express myself. I’m not an open person so poetry is where I can show who I actually am. I write because there is more to who I am than what people label me as being. Writing gives me comfort and it helps me forget about my own problems. Also, it gives me some sense of hope and purpose in life. Writing aids me in dealing with any situation which comes my way. It helps me express and cope with emotions, issues, and situations, as well as use my imagination.
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
All of my writing begins as I perceive the people around me. I look at and dig deeper into my surroundings and the events that are currently, happening around me and in my life. I also find inspiration in music of different genres. I search for the ‘storyline’ in a piece of music and the bigger picture behind the song I’m writing about. I find motivation to write as I read about and read the works of other writers and poets who are not afraid to write what’s genuinely on their mind.
“Writing give me comfort and it helps me forget about my own problems. Also, it gives me some sense of hope and purpose in life. Writing aids me in dealing with any situation which comes my way.” – Nelly Cherry
5. What Time of Day do You Most Like to Write and What Are Your Current Writing Projects? Do You Plan on Publishing Your Writing?
I love writing in the morning when I have a clear fresh mind, but sometimes I write anytime, whenever I’m inspired to write.
My current writing projects include the poems: “Summer,” “Happy Father’s day,” “In Misery,” “Faded,” and “Abandoned Soul.” Also, I am working towards writing a book. I am planning to publish some of my writing in the future. But right now, I’m going to continue blogging on WordPress as a way of publishing my writing.
6. Can You Describe the Process You Go Through to Publish Your Writing? What Is Your Writing Process Like?
It is a long process for me to publish my work. I am still trying to get an editor which is why my work is currently on hold; however, I do have a writing process.
First, I write my ideas on a piece of paper or on my phone. Then, I look around for more inspiration and write the ideas I have on my Mac so far. If I don’t have a complete idea, I listen to music. Then, I go back to my Mac and write what the music has inspired in me.
After I am done, I ask my friend Ashley to provide me with further suggestions or tell me what she thinks of what I already have written down. Opinion from a ‘first reader’ matters a great deal as their opinion helps me decide on what I will continue to write. The first reader may have her own ideas or thoughts on my writing. I often, combine her ideas and my own when I’m writing.
7. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing and/or Reading styles and/or Genres?
I prefer fantasy and science fiction genres. I love science fiction because it can includespecial effectsin film. You are able to visualizeideas and live in your head with creative ideas in science fiction. Also, I love reading the science fiction genre as it has imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, and time travel. One of my favourite books on fantasy is called: Crossed Borders. In science fiction, my favourite books are the Divergent Series and Hunger Games.
“Opinion from a ‘first reader’ matters a great deal as their opinion helps me decide on what I will continue to write. The first reader may have her own ideas or thoughts on my writing. I often, combine her ideas and my when I’m writing.” – Nelly Cherry
8. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers? Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share With Us Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?
My advice is to never stop dreaming and never give up. Also, never be afraid to voice your ideas and write what’s in your soul. If writing is what you love, you need to put your time and dedication towards it.
As well, learning to listen to other people’s ideas is extremely helpful to you as a writer. If you’ve a problem, don’t be afraid to ask because learning never stops. Don’t be afraid to show your work because you’re afraid of other people’s opinions. Write and show the world who you are. Write what you feel but while you are writing, consider other people’s feelings.
I love when people express their thoughts and ideas on writing and it brings new thoughts and ideas to your own writing. Also, having people critique my work is valuable. Listening to what people want to say in regards to my writing, and what they think I should improve on helps me write. One of the most significant values I have learned in life is:“Learning never stops.”
“Don’t be afraid to show your work because you’re afraid of other people’s opinions. Write and show the world who you are. Write what you feel but while you are writing, consider other people’s feelings.” – Nelly Cherry
9. Please Share With One of Your Favourite Pieces of Poetry.
Hidden in the closet like playing a game of hide and seek,
I lock myself inside afraid of getting out.
Am locked in, afraid of releasing myself in the wild,
Afraid of breaking out as fear takes over my mind.
Embracing, exploring, discovering who I really am,
I finally go out of my way and show the world,
Breaking the walls I have built inside me,
Coming out and showing my true colours.
(By Nelly Cherry)
10. Here Are Some Links To Some Of Nelly’s Other Pieces of Poetry:
Thank You so much Nelly, for sharing with us your journey to becoming a writer. It is exciting and inspiring to see you put so much of yourself into your work. I can see how passionate you are about writing and your poetry, it’s wonderful to see. Thank you as well, for your wise and motivational advice to other writers. Nelly’s blog can be visited here: Nelly Cherry.
Would you like to share your writing and writing process with otherwriters and bloggers? Would you like to be interviewed such as Nelly? Drop me a note on my contact page and I will send you some interview questions. Thanks for reading 🙂
Hey everyone. I’m thrilled to share with you an interview on a wonderful writer, teacher, and blogger this first week of July. His name is Christopher Leo Couch of Clcouch123. Please check-out his blog, he’s a fascinating, kind, and learned writer.
Please Tell Us About Yourself.
My name is Christopher Leo Couch. Christopher because my mother liked the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and Leo because it’s my father’s first name and his father’s and so on back. My last name is Couch because centuries ago, members of my clan made cushions for medievalfurniture, furniture otherwise made of only hard stone and brick.
I was born in Louisville, Kentucky; much of my family is from and in the Southern USA. My immediate family moved to Pittsburgh when I was young, then to Cincinnati. I moved back to Pennsylvania towork. I live in Mechanicsburg, a small town (borough) near Harrisburg (the state capital).
I grew up with four siblings, three brothers and my sister. I am the middle child. As such, I had to be an older child or a younger child, depending on the nature of the situation. The nature of the situation was rarely made clear to me. I never knew which child I was supposed to be and when. As a child, I had a busy imagination. I enjoyed stories and writing them. I made little worlds out of my train set and other toys such as models of spaceships or Lincoln Logs.
2. What Type of Profession Did You End Up Going Into?
I went into teaching, which became the substance of my work. I taught college while incollege. Later, I taught my way through Graduate School and teaching paid the bills. I discovered I had great concerns for the accomplishments and growth of my students. In my initial studies and since, I developed a learner-centered approach to teaching that has evolved by experience and further training.
As an educator, I’ve worked in schools and churches. I’ve worked with all ages of students. I find it appealing to teach a range of all ages. I enjoy working with babies, children, youth, and adults. I have degrees in Communications, and English, and I’ve studied religion. I’ve also, taught both public speaking and writing.
I am Christian though probably a lousy evangelist. I enjoy meeting those from other religious traditions and learning about their faith. I spend time with agnostics and atheists as well. I can articulate my faith well and I’m a devotee of the apologist C. S. Lewis; however, I believe if we’re all going to last in this world, we’re going to have torespect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.
” . . .I believe if we’re going to last in this world, we’re going to have to respect each other first. Rather than attempting to talk someone into my way of thinking and believing, I prefer to listen and respond. Then, I’m able to learn and relate to where others are in their spiritual beliefs.” – Christopher Leo Couch
3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
About a year ago, I had heart surgery. My recovery was slow and I couldn’t do much of anything. One activity I could do was write, so journaling became a daily practice. My spiritual director (once) had recommended I keep a blog. Why he suggested this, I’m not sure. I had already found WordPress, but I began to write on my blog more often after his suggestion. I enrolled in Blogging University (the WordPress offered courses). I also participated in a WordPress poetry writing class. I built a basic blog, giving myself enough options so that I could write blog posts, read the blog posts of others, and respond to other WordPress blogger’s comments.
I haven’t done much in a sophisticated fashion with my blog concerning graphics and other technical aspects, but I’ve been posting and corresponding daily for several months now and am learning as I go.
4.What Does Writing Poetry Mean to You? Why Do You Write?
Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write, I think. Poetry is the way I meet the world. Maybe someone else somewhere, said this more profoundly, but for me this is how I can explain it. I write poetry to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise—a way to play with words—which is fine. I play that way. Usually, there’s more at work behind the poetry, even in the playful parts. I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.
“Poetry is an impulse for me. I write poetry because I have to. It’s the reason I write . . .I write poetry to to explore, as I imagine many do with this form. Poetry can be an exercise -a way to play with words . . . I write to speak, to say something to the world, and to engage the world.” – Christopher Leo Couch.
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration to Write? Do You Find There Is a Time of Day You Most Like to Write?
Many things inspire me to write such as current events, a moment of beauty, and the concerns of myself and other people. I’m inspired to write when words come to mind or heart which I cannot let go of.
Currently, I most like to write in the early evening and revise in the afternoon the next day. I often enjoy writing first thing in the morning, when my mind is new and I encounter the world in an open way (or as open as the day and I are going to get).
6. What Are Your Most Current Writing Poetry Projects? Any Hopeful Projects You Are Working On?
I’m working on composing a series of psalms. I’m not the first person to express psalms in a new way. I’m not sure how I began working on this project. A psalm, simply put, is asong to God. Perhaps, I was writing out a prayer and thought there might be somethinglyrical about it. At any rate, I continue working on writing a series if psalms.
It’s also been a dream of mine to study and train for an MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve applied to various programs, though have not worked out a method to afford taking courses in a Creative Writing Program, which is why it’s a dream. But I do have an active, waking dream to lead a creative writing class.
While recovering from my surgery (I must have had more time than I recall), I drafted averse novel for a young-adult audience. I have great fondness for the genre and have been delighted to teach it, study it, and simply read it. I’ve written works, often indramatic voice, for groups and special events; I’d be glad to continue writing works such as this.
I’d love to publish my work, of course. I have mentioned in my blog a dream of mine, to have a collection of my poems published in hardback form. I want my poetry to be a book as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal—or divine—aspects of earth.
“I want my poetry to be a book just as the kind of works I look for in bookstores and come upon as treasures abstracted from the mortal — or divine — aspects of earth.” – Christopher Leo Couch
7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing in the Future?
I published numerous works while in graduate school and in my scholarly life. Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.
For the last church in which I worked, I wrote a devotional series and for a Lentenobservance. I wrote The Way of the Cross—a kind of liturgical writing which has been composed over centuries. If you go to the The Trinity Camp Hill Website, you’ll find my Way of the Cross and the entire experience rendered on line.
8. Can You Briefly Describe the Process You Went Through to Publish or Are Going Through to Have Your Writing Published?
I imagine if I seriously wanted to publish widely, I would need to have a literaryagent, if not an advanced (terminal) degree. What I often do, is send my writing to a groupwhich might be interested in printing it. Sometimes I’ve been commissioned to write certain pieces. Sometimes sending your writing to interested parties works and sometimes it doesn’t.
On a side note, I’ve heard there maybe a new planet discovered in our solar system. If so, it’s going to need a name. I posted a poem about my choice of Minerva (Roman god of wisdom), which many of you (thank you) like as well. I also sent my suggestion to NASA. Maybe, they will like my name choice as well?
“Most of my work, even poetry, has been published in journals. My favorite of these works is an article about ancient riddles and their use in The Hobbit.” – Christopher Leo Couch
9. What is Your Writing Process Like?
I’ve described something of my writing process above; I write. It’s not usually so hard, because I know I’ll write stuff that I won’t keep. But I’m still writing. The computer is especially (truly, really) helpful with my writing. I can draft, move things around, and create new saved versions and files. It’s so easy now with the a computer. Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).
I usually write in response to something—even if it’s only in wondering why orhow. Sometimes, I write something and then put it away. (Again, wonderful computer) I have many pieces of writing saved and stored on my computer (without proper back-up, I’m sure). At times, writing is difficult, because I am writing about somethingdifficult. The recent death of my close friend is hard to write about. Sometimes writing is more straightforward and other times, writing is like playing. The act of writing is a chore (physically speaking) but I’m fine with it’s physical demands.
10. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading Styles or Genres?
I read poetry, young-adult literature, and regular mysteries. Sometimes I read varied genres forfun and sometimes for work. For work, I read about pedagogy and religion. My favorite mystery works are by Aaron Elkins who sometimes writes with his wifeCharlotte Elkins. Charlotte also writes on her own. My sister and I share mystery titles and our reviews of the books we both read. But, young-adultliterature crosses pleasure and work, as does poetry.
“Sometimes, I wonder how I made it through my Master’s Degree using a typewriter. (A mechanical word-calculating device networked to nothing but the typist).” – Christopher Leo Couch
11. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?
Write! Don’t wait. Write. Share. Get reader response and write more!
When sharing your writing before revising (and after, since writing is an organic process and not artificially linear), choose those whose opinions about your writing, you generally respect. These opinions do not have to be from folks who are writers.
If you would like to know how to increase your vocabulary when writing — read. You can read anything. I suggest reading writing you like.Rosema from the blog: A Reading Writer writes about wonderful books to read along with meaningful poetry. Please check-out her blog in the link above.
12. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Which Is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?
I’d like to thank you, Amanda, for arranging this interview. I’d also like to thank everyone who reads my work. I’d like to thank those with whom I interact with online, because your work invites response.Thank you! Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery—but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.
“Don’t let writing be a mystery which stultifies. Writing is a mystery –but the good kind. When it’s fair and correct, give credit where credit’s due. Identify sources and inspirations.” – Christopher Leo Couch
Can You Share With Us a Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favorite or Most Loved Pieces?
The first poem is playful. Grandmama used two words in “Collecting Words,” which I especially like. I use these two-words here:
“Pie Outside Can’t Hide”
By Christopher Leo Couch
Crimp pie crust,
Not too hard, ‘cause,’
Dust to dust.
Enjoy the crimp,
With elf and imp.
When fall is crisp.
We bake our wares,
To cool on stairs.
Magic food alert!
My second poem is more soberly reflective:
By Christopher Leo Couch
Just after five,
I have not been asleep.
Pain shoots through,
My leg, a single line,
As if a wire was pushed,
Then something threw,
A supernatural switch,
And a low current of too-
Warm electric sting,
Courses through tired,
Having surrendered the,
Day’s labors into,
Aspiration’s night of,
Barely keeping guard,
Letting go of awake,
To turn into dream.
In hope to re-knit and,
Measures in the body,
And the mind.
It’s a cycle that’s supposed,
Why then is pain,
Ruining what I’ve made?
I want to rest then rise,
With normal consciousness,
Beneath the skin.
More of Christopher’s poetry can be found on his blog here.
Thank you so much Christopher for doing this interview for me. I enjoyed learning about you, your past, and your future aspirations. I wish the best for you in life, completing your MFA in Creative Writing, your psalms, and a hardcover book of poetry.
Thanks for reading this bi-weekly interview series. I have another fantastic interview lined up in the next couple of weeks. If you wished to be interviewed on writing and/or blogging, please reach me on my contact page on the top of my blog.