Poet Extraordinaire: Interview with David Ishaya Osu

Welcome back! This week, I’m pleased to spotlight author David Ishaya Osu. David is a fiction writer and a poet as well as an editor. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Watershed Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art.

Recently, David and I discussed his favorite authors, his tenure at The James Franco Review, as well as his future writing plans.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I started reading and writing poetry in 2010. I do not remember making any deliberate statement about becoming a writer, except for the unexplainable fascination with words, metaphors, meta-worlds and beauty that consumed me and still consumes me each day of this life. Stating a favourite author is like choosing one out of all the blinks my eyes have had so far. The more I read, the more I encounter favourite authors. I enjoy Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Uche Nduka, Kim Hyesoon, Tomas Transtromer, Lidia Yuknavitch, Xandria Phillips, Rainer Maria Rilke, Michael Ondaatje, Michael Echeruo, Kathleen Jamie, Brenda Shaughnessy, Cynthia Cruz, Emily Dickinson, Doreen Baigana, francine j. harris, Solmaz Sharif, Ana Castillo, Walt Whitman, Safia Elhillo, Gloria E. Anzaldua, Luce Irigaray, Anais Nin. ASA’s songs are a fave. Also, I study Francesca Woodman’s photography with the same intensity I do poems.

Do you write every day? Also, do you have any specific rituals as a writer (e.g. listening to music as you work, or only writing during a certain time of day)?

Because my mind works every day, I write everyday; even when I do not spell something or put words on paper, the nonstop spillage of thoughts is another form of writing. When I was bedridden, I wrote in my head; and when I could use my hand, I pulled out everything saved in my memory and relocated them to a manuscript. I agree with Uche Nduka who said: “The poem has to be written whether by word or by silence.”  Also, my specific ritual is breathing, which, in all truism, is peculiar to every living thing and non-living thing. I am a list of milk, moon, and mirror and ghosts. I listen to both music and silence—ASA goddesses my spirit; maybe you should listen to ‘The place to be’ or just any of her songs, you will fall in love with meteors, I promise you.

You were the poetry editor for The James Franco Review in February and March. How did you become involved with the publication, and what were your goals as editor during your two-month tenure?

Editorship at The James Franco Review rotates around editions. So I was invited to serve as poetry editor for the February/March edition. It was particularly a wonderful experience, reading through hundreds of poems submitted. I was interested in seeing the ninth colour of the rainbow. Remarkably, the entire reading process opened me to new worlds. Because [we] need new worlds to stream in.

As both a poet and an editor, is it a challenge to toggle between the two? Do you prefer one over the other, or do you enjoy the way writing and editing complement one another?

It’s no challenge for me. I enjoy both. I’m simply kept alive by poetry; whether reading, writing or sharing it. The candlelight has its life.

Out of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite?

Interesting. One poem I do not hesitate to return to when asked is: “When I’m eighteen.

Where would you like to see your writing career in five years?

More poetry, more rejoicing. Books, books. Globetrotting and writing and sharing newer magics.

Big thanks to David Ishaya Osu for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find him online at Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!