Q&A: Ashraf Booley

zamantungwa | September 25th, 2014 | current issue, Q&A | No Comments

Ashraf Booley first sent poems to Poetry Potion in 2012. This poem here below, A Story of the Mind, was featured in our fifth anniversary edition.

At the moment of awakening
another story ends.
Like a book with missing pages,
no ending.

A state
that awakens the silence
of the unconscious.
Where the dream-maker
calls upon
flying elephants and leaping giants.
I played hide-and-seek
with Ahmed and Dave and Joy,
I do not know them.

I found myself
in a place in my head
where I am not myself.
I awake
to a story
I half-forgot,

Since then, he has become one of our favourite poets. He’s an English graduate from University of Western Cape and a business analyst whose love for literature and poetry in particular makes his work exciting. We quizzed him about poetry and the future.

Poetry Potion: How did you get interested in writing poetry?
Ashraf Booley: I started writing poetry at sixteen – a sullen teenager in search of his identity and purpose in life, questioning institutional beliefs that were imposed upon me, the status quo, and the many other perpetual societal ills. Naturally, I started journaling my feelings and the world through my eyes as a form of catharsis. It just happened to be poetic…

PP: How much of your work reflects your life?
AB: Pretty much the bulk of it. The way I see it, all elements of the earth are [restrict]interconnected in some way or the other, so I’ve always managed to relate broader subject matter to my personal life and vice versa. My writing has, however, evolved to a stage where I’m able to break out of my many comfort zones, which I believe is key to becoming a better writer, and generally, growing as a person.

PP: In one of your bios you indicated that you were going to move away from business analysis to full time writing. Has this happened? [restrict]What is driving you to pursue the life of a “poor” writer?
AB: I’ve since joined the wonderful world of media. My new job sees me writing about food, another subject I’m fervent about (I make more than just a great curry, mind you!) In retrospect, I think I’ll just continue writing poetry after hours (and admittedly, during my lunch breaks, on the train to and from home, and, er, at some other unusual times and places I’d rather not disclose). Being employed full-time allows me to support myself financially, and I frankly do not wish to pursue the life of a “poor” writer. It’s a hustle out there so you need to be flexible and equip yourself with skills that will add value. It’s not impossible to have the best of both worlds in this industry.

PP: How has studying creative writing shaped your writing?
AB: My creative writing course has given me a better idea of what writing is publishable, and how to hone my work to meet this standard. It has also equipped me with the necessary planning and editing skills.

PP: Share with us your favourite poet and poem and tell us why it your favourite? If it inspired any of your poems, please share that poem as well.
AB: Rustum Kozain.
Favourite poem? That’s a tough one, but if I had to choose, it would be between A Different Time and Leaving by Rustum. They’re both filled with interesting and engrossing metaphors, but are simple and evoke vivid imagery. In both poems, the poet manages to describe romantic encounters in an unclichéd way, which not many are able to do. (The poem below is inspired by Rustum Kozain’s work.)

Albeit the end

Once more, I want to wake
to your body huddled wholly in mine
and the lustre of your face
bathing in unwelcomed morning sun
that wrestles you into a new day.
Once more,
I want to trace my fingers across your bold bushy brows
that meet at the inner ends,
converging like star-crossed lovers
and subject myself to the mundanity of another simple day
– clean, eat, converse, make love, sleep. Repeat.
In sullen silence,
you took from me my life:
And robbed my mind of the present moment,
and took with you my sanity.
And now I but exist
and still, I swim
on my island of hope, though slowly its sinking into the abyss,
for I know that though life’s woes have shaken our faith,
our souls are anchored in fate’s everlasting bosom.

PP: Can we expect a book of poems one day?
AB: That’s the big goal. I have my very small collection of published and unpublished works, which will hopefully, in the near future, grow big enough to be considered for publication as an anthology of poems.

PP: If your life were a book, what would the title be?
AB: Exhaling Memories.[/restrict]



this article was published in our print quarterly number seven, Words.

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