I would say, first and foremost, I am an educator. Writing and publishing came about when I started to share some of my pieces with a friend who would become my business partner in our publishing house, Peacock Press. I would say that my book Because I Can is an anthology of everything I have been through in my life. It really doesn’t get more personal, emotional and vulnerable then what I have written. I have always found writing free-verse poetry very therapeutic. It allows me to express my inner most feelings which I might not necessarily divulge so freely under normal circumstances. The response that I have received from readers so far is that a lot of people have been able to relate to it and see themselves in the different pieces. I have also grown up with poetry being recited and revered in my culture. For example, during our New Year which marks the first day of spring, one of the elements to the “set up” of our ritualistic practices is to have the book of Hafez as a central marker to the start of the New Year.
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
I’m a big believer that our perspectives in any situation truly define us. I am also someone that has had so many different forms of hurdles come at me throughout my life, that it no longer affects me. I just move on to the next thing. I do this by not dwelling on the “loss” for too long. I know if it was for me, it would have worked itself out. I know I put 125% in everything I do, so then the potential lost opportunity wasn’t supposed to be mine anyways. With every closed door, another opens. I know that’s super cheesy, but it’s so very true! I have also learnt that I have to ask for what I want! How will you know if you don’t at least ask or put your name in the hat?
What books are you currently reading?
I usually try to read a little from some of my favourite poets at night before I go to sleep. Probably the only time I get to be able to indulge in this. I would say that this lack in actively reading is mostly because currently I am also self-teaching new software tools and implementing this new knowledge into my training and advocacy work through e-Tree Group which takes up so much of my own personal time. But the last amazing book which I read, and which I constantly recommend, was “Fifteen Dogs” by André Alexis.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits? How did you handle it?
I have been blessed with an incredibly supportive family and group of friends. I have always done everything I have wanted and have had full support from my family and friends. They understand the reasoning behind everything that I pursue.
What would you do differently in hindsight?
So far nothing! There have been several ups and downs. But we are happy with the progress we have made.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success?
There are multiple factors:
*The undeniable pursuit to constantly create a platform for inclusive storytelling
*Ambition, motivation and drive to think outside the box to develop and grow the business
*Strong communicative, creative partnership that has been the foundation of our success so far
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?
The energy, work and balance everything takes. Learning to prioritize every aspect of your work, life and family. To learn to give yourself a break, and to also prioritize your physical and mental health among everything that’s going on. To know that it’s OK to say no and that just because a new project might seem interesting, I don’t have to agree to it right away.
What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?
Start with your local community to get to know who you are first before anything else. Remember that there comes a time when you will have to step outside your own bubble and that there might be warranted hesitation around this. Have an honest conversation with yourself as to how much you want to put “out into the world”. You dictate this so don’t lose control over it. Also, when in doubt about your pursuit, ask yourself, what else would I be doing if it wasn’t for this right now?