Pleased to have you as our guest for this week on the “Women of Arts” section of mchaymaker.com
Thank you for having me.
Before we start talking extensively, can you kindly tell who you are? I mean your real name, stage name relative to what you do, and what you do as an art in details.
My real name is Samuella Julia Conteh and I am from Sierra Leone. I have always used my real name in my work, until fellow poets across the different online poetry groups, started addressing me as “Mama Poetry”. I grew to love the name and its connotation, and started using it too.
I write articles, short stories and have even tried my hand at playwriting but my main thrust has been poetry.
I am a member of the Sierra Leone Writers Forum, an online writers’ forum and a Board Member of PEN-SL Centre, a chapter of PEN International, a world association of writers with membership in over 100 countries. I am also a member and active participant in over fifty online poetry groups. I have been awarded the medal of Ambassador de Literature for Sierra Leone by Motivational Strips, one of, if not the fastest growing group in affiliation with many vibrant groups recognized by several governments, lately Seychelles. I have received many awards for my contribution to literature and also dozens of certificates for active participation in many of these groups. I am also Matron of the International African Writers’ Association (AIWA), a group of writers from almost every African country, with its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. I am currently President of the Sierra Leone Chapter. My works have been featured in many anthologies in Sierra Leone and abroad.
*When did it all begin for you, and how did it start?
I have always loved reading and writing since my school days. Together with some school friends, we had even toyed with the idea of writing books when we were at middle school. We were quite influenced by writers like Enid Blyton and Barbara Cartland. I had always loved writing little pieces and would write birthday messages for my friends to give to their friends and families. It was only when I was in my late 20s, that a boss of mine, who happened to be a poet saw some of my works and told me I had the flair for poetry. He introduced me to the poetry circles and I have never looked back.
*What was your inspiration for starting and has it changed over time?
I was always a deep thinker and had a knack of looking at issues in more ways than one. I love humanity and I have for a long time believed I needed to share my story to inspire others.
*How has the journey been so far?
It has been quite a remarkable journey, more than I ever dreamed and it is getting better, with my desire to widen my horizon on writing in general and poetry in particular. The journey to this point has been fulfilling and the reviews are good.
*What impact has/is your work had/having on society?
I write on a wide range of contemporary issues like family, love, society, culture, human rights, gender, women and children, the marginalized and disadvantaged. I use every opportunity to write and raise awareness on these issues. Many young people see my drive as inspiration for them to take their art seriously.
Enjoy these excellent poems by Samuella Conteh
*Have you commercialized your arts yet? If yes, how difficult has that been & If no, what are your reasons?
On a very small scale, yes I have. Its nothing much but quite fulfilling if you can get anything at all for your work. Difficult, because people in my country do not understand they need to pay for the creativity of others.
*What is the current state of the arts industry from your perspective as a writer?
Oh My! It is widening out. It is becoming more attractive and networking via social media is bringing growth to the arts. Also, the internet has provided a mine of resources for anyone who cares to develop their arts.
Some of the international anthologies Samuella Conteh is featured.
*Are women appreciated in our arts space? Comment extensively if possible on the state of women in arts.
Yes, women are being appreciated. It is one field where I am yet to see discrimination against women based on their sex. It is an open field for anyone who thinks they have a passion and want to develop a career in the arts. There are so many opportunities out there to create safe spaces for them and also give them visibility.
*Looking back, do you regret ever embarking on this journey?
No, I have no regrets. For me, writing is therapeutic, for the writer and the reader and you may never know when you would be helping a dire situation. Besides, this is a dream coming true for me.
*Any setbacks in your field of endeavor and how you think it can be overcome?
Progress is slow, compared to elsewhere. People need to showcase what they have got, mentor developing and aspiring writers and artists. People also need to maximize their passion for reading and appreciating the work of others. That would include patronizing and supporting writers so that they would be inspired to do more.
*What are the plans going forward for you as an artist?
Besides contributing to national and international anthologies, I am going to concentrate on publishing my own collections. Also, together with others, work towards using writing to address issues of injustice, wars, corruption, crime and other social ills, with the view of creating awareness and building a better world.
*Any other things you would like the general public to know about women in arts.
They should allow nothing to stop them from dreaming and striving towards the fulfilment of those dreams to maintain their relevance in global development.
That brings us to the end of another episode of Women Of Arts and as usual a very exciting one at that.
You can follow our guest on social media via Facebook at Samuella Conteh.