Author talk: Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike

Joy, yearning and writing for yourself

“Joy should be the business of all writing,” said writer, poet, and scholar Uchechukwu Umezurike. On March 2, Umezurike was welcomed to Mt. A for a reading and discussion of his selected works. He is the author of the novel Double Wahala, Double Trouble and the forthcoming book of poetry There’s More.

Umezurike opened the event with his hybrid work entitled The Intimacy of Words, a piece he described as “digressive.” Umezurike layers and weaves the stories among each other, never quite finishing one before beginning another. He described this structure as a “gesture towards possibilities,” allowing the reader to evaluate what outcome they yearn for. 

This piece stood out to me, the story was unlike anything I had heard before, and I was hooked. Umezurike’s writing had the ability to give words to the indescribable. “Everytime she called my name, I wanted to hold her voice in my hand,” he said of his first crush. Lines of similar power and sincerity were woven throughout the reading.

“There are different entryways to how I came to writing,” Umezurike said. The Intimacy of Words is a collection of those entryways. From first love to his first dictionary, Umezurike covers it all. “This piece is also about yearning, how we yearn to become better partners, better students, better professors, […] and so, I want to create that sort of yearning for the reader,” he said. 

Umezurike also read three poems from his upcoming collection There’s More: “Bossed Up,” “Blooms in June,” and “Tamarack Shade.” These poems, and the collection as a whole, explore “home lost and regained, home created with others and with the land, home as ‘anywhere we find something to love.’” The collection will be available for purchase on March 16.

During the Q&A portion of the evening, Umezurike answered many questions about the audience favourite, The Intimacy of Words, but also touched on his writing process. “I resist thinking about [the audience]. Once you start becoming very conscious of that, you start [censoring] yourself, because you are trying to customize or tailor your art to a particular purpose,” he said. Umezurike explains that he writes for himself, with the purpose of exploring questions of his own interest. He encouraged taking the time to be present and draw inspiration from our surroundings, which we so often take for granted. 

I encourage you to check out Umezurike’s work. As he hinted, we may even see some poems about Sackville from the poet in the future.

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