Nadia Hasan is a writer and poet living in Detroit, MI. Following wherever the path of inspiration leads, she strives to cultivate hope, awareness and empathy through her writing. Her work has appeared in The Mirror News under their “Through the Looking Glass” segment, The Michigan Ave. Creative Arts Journal, and Rewriting Mary Sue. She also writes paranormal fiction as N.J. Ember.
Congratulations on your new book! What is called?
Thank you! My book is called Waking the Wild.
I think the theme of the book would be growth. Most of my poems are about growing emotionally and mentally and the struggle between transitioning from a difficult period in life to one of healing.
How would you describe your poetry?
The majority of my poetry is free verse. I would describe it as visceral and evocative. I’ve noticed that people often react strongly to my poems, both positively and negatively. Either way, I take it as a compliment that I am able to make them feel anything at all.
What do you strive for when you write a poem?
When I write a poem I try to describe a complete narrative or emotion. I want them to be as true as possible to whatever experience I’m trying to create, but I also want it be logical. I want it to be accessible by both readers of poetry and non-readers, those trying to “get into “poetry.
Do you always know what want to write or do you just let your emotions spill onto the page and form words?
I’m emotion driven. I almost never know what I’m going to write about beforehand. Usually it stems from some lines that repeat in my head until I’m forced to write them down. I sit in front of the computer, center myself and begin. I try not to think too much about what I’m doing until it’s all out.
Can you tell us about poetry and literary-centered events happening in your hometown, Detroit?
The two events that come to mind are Progressionista and the Motown Mic competition. Progressionista is a book club founded by Shanel Adams for girls in Detroit ages eight to twelve. During each monthly meeting, they have women professionals (progressionistas) speak to the girls about their careers. Each career is related to the themes of the next book. The meetings also include interactive activities which help encourage further reading over that month. So not only does Progressionista foster literacy and cultural awareness, but it promotes female leadership and illustrates how important reading for fun can be.
Motown Mic is a spoken word competition held at the Motown Museum. The competition is held each Friday in April and provides a way for artists and local poets to share their talents. Two winners are selected each week and advance to the grand finale in June at the Garden Theatre for a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize.
Who are the poets you admire? What is it about their work that speaks to you?
There are so many! There’s spoken word artists like Alysia Harris, Miles Hodges, Zora Howard, Sarah Kay and Sierra DeMulder to start. There are also poets such as Amber Jerome-Norrgard and Ben Ditmars. I think their work speaks to me for various reasons.
I admire the first group not only because of the way they craft their poems but of the way they perform them. You really feel it and it stays with you. I’m envious of that. As for Amber and Ben, I think they write poems that are uniquely them. They leave so much of themselves on the page. Every poet I read has some quality that leaves an impression or some way of writing that teaches me something.
I know that the cover of your book has very personal meaning to you. Can you tell us more?
I lost both my best friend and her little brother this year. It was sudden, and continues to be something that I struggle to come to terms with everyday. We were both writers and many of my poems, if not written with her, were directly influenced by our friendship and the conversations we used to have. So when I was thinking about the look I wanted for the cover, my first thought was to incorporate things that had meaning to the both of us. I choose lotus flowers because she was the first person to tell me about the life of lotuses, how they rise out of muck everyday untouched by it and still sink back into it every night. I chose lilies because they were her favorite flower. It was important to me that she was represented because she was such a tremendous part of its creation.
I think it’s easy for people to forget that an artist and their work are separate. Even poetry, which is very personal and most often an intimate look at the poet is never a one hundred percent accurate portrayal. I want readers to know that even though many of my poems may seem bleak, that’s just a snapshot of whatever I’m thinking about at the time. Alysia Harris said it best when she said, “a poem is just a tombstone eulogizing a moment.” I have good days and bad days just like anyone else.
What can we expect from you in the future?
All the books! In addition to writing poetry, I plan to write paranormal fiction books under a pen name. I hope to put out at least two poetry books per year. I also want to write more flash/micro fiction.
Do you write under a pen name? If so, can you tell us why?
Yes, I do. I had always planned on writing my paranormal fiction under a pen name because I wanted a little bit of freedom to write without judgment. I wanted to be able to feel free to take creative risks. Maybe I just really liked the idea of having an alter ego.
What else have you written?
I’ve written and published short stories and flash fiction. My favorite one is called Bird Song and it’s currently up on Rewriting Mary Sue. From the Cafe and Beyond: A Collection of Poems and Other Writings was my first published book.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I would love to be able to draw. It would be nice to draw my characters the way that I see them or to create my own merchandise and promotional graphics.
What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?
Be proactive in learning more about people or things that are different from you, especially if your ignorance causes you to fear them. Treat everyone and everything with compassion, empathy and respect. Contribute something positive to the world through the gifts that you were born with. (We all have them. The trick is figuring out what they are.)
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
I love getting something in the mail that I wasn’t expecting. My favorite things are those which are handmade or handwritten, like cards and letters. I like being able to have a tangible memory of someone. I like being able to look at something and remember the way that I felt in that moment.
If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?
I watch Orphan Black, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Penny Dreadful, Scandal and every version of NCIS.
If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?
I would add a library and office. If I could only add one room, I guess it would have to be a library and office combined. I’d be fine with that.
Care to brag about your family?
I have the best grandpa in the whole world! You might think that’s an exaggeration, but it really isn’t. He does everything for me and sacrifices so much to make sure that I have everything I need. He’s also the biggest supporter of whatever I do. We’re pretty much opposites in everything and it drives us crazy. He’s neat and I’m organized chaos. He’s an early bird and I’m a night owl, but I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He’s one of a kind.
CONNECT WITH NADIA
(Referenced in Interview)