Author Profile - Aisha Nelson


Sheilla A. Nelson (writes as Aisha Nelson) currently teaches English Language and Literature at the Alpha Beta Christian College, in Dansoman, Accra. After a combined major degree in English and Psychology, she did her National Service at the Department of English of the University of Ghana, Legon.

Her poem, "Revolt", was shortlisted in Poetry Foundation’s (Ghana) 2012 Political Poetry Competition. Some of her short stories and poems have appeared in The Mirror and The Globe (Weekend). A few have been performed and featured in formal readings. Also, one of her few plays has been staged.

Five Questions with Aisha Nelson:

1. How long have you been writing poetry?

I vaguely remember starting to write while still in Junior High School. It began with a slam book-of-sorts which I meant to give to my friends when they came visiting - not that I am that much of a people-person. It contained randoms like quotes, sketches, anecdotes, and thoughts, most of which insisted on emerging as poems. I found myself hooked, and my writings continued to grow long after the book was filled up.

2. Who are your favorite poets? Which poets have most influenced and informed your work?

I read as widely as I can. I draw my inspiration from my own experiences and the world around me. But I am grateful for having been nurtured by Professor Kofi Anyidoho and Dr. Mawuli Adzei, while I studying at the Department of English at the University of Ghana, Legon.

3. What do you hope to accomplish with your poetry?

Poetry provides me with a means to recreate or make meaning of my beliefs, thoughts, observations and experiences. And I hope that in sharing these with others we all come to appreciate both the diversity and universal nature of the human condition. In giving room for my audience to feel free to read or make their own meaning(s) of my writing in general, I hope to make impact.

4. Can you talk a bit about the form of this poem? Why did you choose to shape your poem this way?

This was inspired by a sort of debate about what kind of leadership solution this nation needs in times like these. It came to me as spontaneously that it was almost effortless. Its uneven lines and stanzas and the sporadic failed attempt to achieve a definite pattern of rhyme and rhythm echoes its caustic tone. Quite unlike the proverbial prophet-of-doom, the brevity and detachment of the last two lines-cum-stanzas from the rest of the poem is intended to project both the hesitation and the desperation of the persona about the last words of this rather burdensome message. The real message - I think - of this piece is therefore an urgent call for 'us all' to 'Revolt' against all that happens between 'cocked' (line 1) and 'short live us all!' (last line). That's the real 'Revolt'.

5. "Revolt" was shortlisted for the Poetry Foundation’s (Ghana) 2012 Political Poetry Competition. How did that shortlisting affect you? What value do you think such contests hold in the Ghanaian writing community?

I actually found that the poem had been shortlisted by accident. I didn't think much of it, probably because of how easily the poem came to me. But yes, I was happy for the recognition, and it did add something to my wanting to keep writing.

I believe that among many other innovations in our writing circles, such contests contibute significantly in raising the bar of our writing here in Ghana - especially for the younger emerging generation of writers.

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