BookLife Talks with Billie Bioku
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'Unpaved Tomorrow'Bioku’s latest poetry collection takes on a different format, as the poems are “written in short story form.” We spoke with the author about her work, her advice to other poets, and why she would like to give Oprah Winfrey her book.
What role did poetry play in your life before you became an author?
I’ve always thought that poetry was a magnificent form of art but somewhat arcane and difficult to decode. I would read the works of different poets and immerse myself in their use of imagery, trying to understand their deeper meaning—it was a puzzle for me to solve. I wanted to write poetry that would allow readers to find meaning in the poems so that they could form their own conclusions. I found the act of writing poetry to be enjoyable and somewhat cathartic. In fact, writing poetry comes naturally to me. I have always loved writing and thought that my focus would be on writing think pieces. However, in my last year of law school, I started to take my love for poetry more seriously. As I wrote, I felt myself being transformed into a poet. I was able to find a place where my imagination could roam freely and I could write realistic stories in a fictionalized way. I knew right away that I had to share my work with others. My hope is that readers will be able to find solace and new meaning through my writing.
Unpaved Tomorrow is your third book of poetry. How does it differ from your previous two?My last two poetry books, We Ponder: Unsettled Minds and Untethered Grounds, were formidable collections of poetry. Unpaved Tomorrow differs in that each poem is written in the form of a short story. This book has an overarching theme of time periods that connects the stories in an impeccable yet unassuming way. I particularly enjoyed writing this book, because I was in a different place in my life than when I was writing the other two books. I had graduated from law school, which meant that, mentally, I was in a better headspace. The feedback I have received thus far about the book is that it is thought-provoking, inspirational, and relevant.
If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why?
I would give my book to Oprah Winfrey because she is an avid reader with a rampant book club. I came across an article recently where it was stated that she loves to read poetry every evening. I believe that she would greatly enjoy reading my books and find the poems relatable, fun, and entertaining.
Do you have any advice for other authors attempting to write their own poetry collections?
Yes, my advice would be to start by thinking about the story you want to convey. I have found that coming up with the title first makes it easier to pick overarching themes. Then, choose how many poems you would like to write and how many poems you want to go under each theme. After, begin writing poems that touch on the different themes both literally and figuratively. The idea is to have the collection be cohesive, even if each poem differs. Make sure to take breaks and have fun! Never stop writing, because your voice matters and is greatly needed.
Can readers expect more books from you in the future?
Yes, I am planning on writing another poetry book soon. I would also like to write a philosophy book in the future. Stay tuned!