We meet with Mariam Eisa Al Qubaisi, 21-year-old Emirati author of Woven Words, a collection of poems, reflections, and short stories that will be hitting bookstores in 2018. The book will be the first of its kind to be published and sold in the UAE.
We chat with her to find out more about it and her writing process, her inspiration, and her beginnings as a poet on social media. She also exclusively shares an excerpt from her book with us.
Tell us about your book.
My book is about my experiences in life. It shows the things I have been through or even the thoughts I had. It shows my journey when I started sharing my writings in social media. It’s deeply close to my heart, because my writing through social media has helped me get through so many hardships in life and also has allowed me to share my happiest moments.
How did your writings come together as a collection?
I didn’t have a goal in mind or even know that the amount of writings I had in my Instagram could amount to a book! I wrote for the sake of writing. As a gift to me, my sisters and friends collected and designed a book out of my writings on Instagram for me to appreciate my writing and to encourage me to continue to write and share with the world. The first edition came out recently (in small printing). I am planning to edit and with the will of Allah bring it to bookshops in the UAE.
When did you start writing poetry?
As young as I can remember. I was in middle school when I wrote my first poem, and I felt happy. It was a great accomplishment for me. My best friend introduced me to poetry and taught me how to write it, and after that, we would write together and share our poems.
From where do you derive your inspiration?
Everywhere; experiences that happen to me, a moment of clarity and reflection, widely shared topics and things that happen around the world…. I like to write about writing, my love for books, about depression and sadness, how to overcome obstacles, about the winter season in Abu Dhabi… I write to comfort myself.
What is your writing routine like?
There is no routine to my writing. I write in the spur of the moment, and like all writers, I have moments of slumping in which I slow down and not write. But that’s normal.
You write both poems and prose. Are there cues that help you decide whether a particular subject should be a poem as opposed to prose?
Anything could be a poem and anything could be prose, but if I wanted to deliver more emotions using less words, I’d write a poem. If I wanted to expand on details, to draw a more intricate picture with more feelings and emotions, I’d write prose.
Do you think poetry is a gift someone is born with?
I think anyone can write, but to be a great writer—that takes a talent. Poetry is not a gift that someone is born with; the gift is much more the way this person can convey a reader’s feelings in words. The way they can evoke emotions, to make words heal readers, to make them feel like they are not alone, that is a gift.
Poets you look up to and why.
My fellow Untitled Chapters poets: Shahd Thani, Afra Atiq and Asma Al Jailani. Their poems are beautifully written, and they inspire me so much. I look up to them because when I joined Untitled Chapters, they helped me (along with other UC members) realize myself as a writer. Asma’s writings are so intricate and beautiful; as for Shahd’s poems, they make me feel nostalgic. Afra’s poetry makes me laugh and feel strong.
Do you write in Arabic?
Yes I do, and I love writing in Arabic.
Is it more challenging to write in English than in Arabic?
Arabic used to be challenging because when I began writing, I started in English. I just recently started to focus on Arabic writing because I have always found it beautiful, and I have seen that Arabic has a much deeper way of expressing my feelings than English does. Arabic has more eloquence than English does, and I have always been fascinated by Arabic poetry and literature.
What makes a good poet?
Passion, that fiery sensation to want to send a message to the world and to make people know that this is how it feels. That brewing passion in the poets’ hearts is what makes them brilliant. I believe that passion makes everything stand out.
Your goals for 2018 and beyond.
My goal for 2018 is to finish editing the first edition of my book and get it out there. I want to write more, to inspire more, and to write more books. I want to expand my reading list too. In 2018, I want to become a newer, more improved Emirati writer and give back to my country as much as it has given me.
A piece of advice you’d like to pass along to aspiring poets out there.
Write poems, recite poems, and be yourself. Every writer writes differently, and no one writes better than anyone else. Everyone writes at their own wavelength. Never give up, because one day, the world will have your writings in their hands and they’ll love you for it.