CANDID CONVERSATIONS: Mona Soorma talks to Ismael Mansoor

Hello and welcome back to Candid Conversations!

Today, I have an interview with a wonderful writer and poet, Ismael Mansoor. He is a fan of online writing and likes to make sure he has written something every day so he can go to bed happy. His pet peeve- people who want to correct his writing! He wants to learn at his own pace and in my opinion, we must respect a writers space.

You can reach him on his blog, “This Engrained Heart” or on his Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He also makes great videos in Sign Language so that the deaf can understand them. Buy Ismael’s books on his Amazon Page.

Over to Ismael…

Hi Ismael. I am so glad that you agreed to talk to me about your life and work, Let us begin with your life at this moment. What is a typical day in your life like?

Ismael Mansoor, smiling at the camera

Hi Mona. My typical day starts with waking up late. My sleeping pattern has messed up during lockdown. I often wake up much later than I intended. My girlfriend brings me coffee because she is an early riser. After having my breakfast, I open my laptop and start browsing blogs, poems and social media posts. Sometimes I daydream for endless minutes. If the house is dirty, I help and clean. I help wash dishes. I cook very rarely. I bring my girlfriend coffee and tea throughout the day. I make her happy. Before I go to bed, I make sure I have written something. I go to sleep happy!

How did you begin to write? Do you have a favourite genre or form of writing? What role does poetry play in your life and writing?

I began writing affirmations in 2010. I was going through a hard time and affirmations helped me to remember the good things in life. After writing affirmations, I started writing quotes. I also began writing many different genres. I do not have a form of writing because I write as many genres as possible. I think I favour the personification genre. The role poetry play in my life and writing is important. It gives me hope and improves my way of thinking about the world.

What is your opinion about the popularity of poetry in today’s world?  What is the role that poetry can play for the world and humanity

In my opinion, the popularity of poetry in the sense of books are decreasing. However, I can see that poetry in the sense of online writing has increased dramatically. I prefer online writing because the writers themselves can display their own work without the decisions of the book editors. The role that poetry can play for the world and humanity is huge. Poetry can connect hearts, souls and minds. It shows what is real inside. Poetry is not just about the cover of the book, it is about what is inside.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you as a person and as a writer?

The coronavirus pandemic has affected my life. I am no longer working as I was working part-time at a university. I am a Honours student however my situation is difficult. It’s been hard studying without face to face classes. It has not really affected my writing because no matter where I am, I am still able to write. I can write anywhere. It has also helped me to improve my thinking about the future. This led me to buy my blog ‘This Engrained Heart,’ which was a big step for me. The blog will show the world how a Deaf person can write about various things.

What are the challenges that you have faced as a deaf writer?

Ismael Mansoor using sign language

At the beginning, I normally write what I think or feel. Most people did not understand what I mean. Maybe it is because English is not my first language. Maybe it is not what people are used to. My big challenge is how often people has edited my writing. It has made me feel uneasy. I wanted them to read and understand with hopeful feeling. I wanted to show them one day that they do not need to edit my writing. My writing has improved a lot since 2010 and people wanting to edit my writing has decreased!

 

Please tell me about your recent and upcoming work and projects.

I set up my first paid blog, ‘This Engrained Heart’. Before setting up the blog, I used ‘My Deaf Mind’ blog. I realised it is time to set up new blog because I wanted my work to be official. I decided to get a new blog name because I feel that it is important to realise that this is a new and different beginning for me as a writer. My friend, Richard D. France (also a Deaf writer), said to me, “Think about the grains in a tree trunk – you see the tree rings recording its growth and each ring has its own story to tell. One ring does not tell the whole story because the ring is ever expanding. A bit like you!” My upcoming works are to re-introduce signing poetry in South African Sign Language (my home language) as well as educate Hearing people that Deaf people can be amazing writers, performers and artists.

Now, let us have a round of some quick questions-

Your favourite book

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Wow! Great choice! Favourite way to spend a lazy afternoon?

Nap!

Ah! My favourite too. If not a writer, what would you have been?

I’ve never thought what I would be. Maybe a man of the earth!

Hmmm… If you could live in any place in the world, what would it be?

In a cabin surrounding mountains in England.

Ismael Mansoor in a garden

What are some of the things on top of your bucket list?

Travel the world with my girlfriend, mediate somewhere like Nepal and become a bestselling author.

May your dreams come true! But first, let us talk about the dreams that have already come true…

Pat your own back moment- What is it that you are very proud of having done.

Getting 50 runs in cricket after relocating to Gauteng.

Wonderful! There aren’t many in my country either who don’t love a good game of cricket.

Role reversal- Come, sit in my seat for a while. Would you like to ask me a question?

What is your interests in life?

Now that is something I can write a whole book about! But in a nutshell, I love creating. It can be anything- a poem, a knitted sweater, a tie and dye scarf, an exotic meal, an oil painting, a new website… it is quite unpredictable what I would be doing next. I love to learn new skills and do everything myself from scratch. I also love sports, outdoor activities and animals, especially dogs. Reading is another interest that has been with me all my life.

What advice would you like to give to aspiring poets and writers?

Never listen to what people tell you to do because you are on your own path. Because no matter what, they will always say something until you succeed.

That is something to pin up on your wall! I am going to try and remember that on the tough days. It was fabulous talking to you and I know everyone who reads this is going to love your candid answers.

Wishing you every success in life!

 

 

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