Lolla Mohammed Nur: From journalism to poetry

Lolla Mohammed Nur accepting her Community Leadership Award at the 4th African Awards Dinner hosted by Mshale on Friday, September 20 2013 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo: David Mendolia/Mshale

Lolla Mohammed Nur is moving on up! After a year as community engagement editor at the TC Daily Planet, she’s now working on another kind of writing as a Givens Writer. According to its website, the Givens Black Writers program engages “emerging African American writers from diverse genres in an eight-month program providing mentoring and peer support, building literary community, honing literary craft, and producing new works.” We asked about her plans and reflections, and here’s what she said.

What kind of writing do you plan to work on?

I plan to work on my creative writing. I’m really interested in focusing on poetry and establishing myself in that field. Most of my writing experience has been in journalism, but I’m interested in exploring creative non-fiction and even fiction, in addition to poetry. I think the Givens Fellowship will allow me room to further explore myself as a writer.

I think it’s really helpful to be in an environment where there are other black writers and peers supporting me. There aren’t many places like that in the Twin Cities. We will hold ourselves accountable and push one another in meeting our writers’ goals.

Have you been writing poetry for long?

I’ve been writing on and off since childhood. I’ve been an avid reader since I was five. My mom bought me books all the time and I read all the time. But life and work gets in the way of focusing on that kind of writing and reading. I haven’t had time since college. I’m trying to be more consistent with it now.

Who are some of your favorite poets?

Maya Angelou, of course. I’m going to mix poets and prose — Audre Lord, Toni Morrison. Those are my top three in terms of classical black feminist writers. Currently writing— Warsan Shire and Nayyirah Waheed.

Any advice for aspiring poets or writers?

I’m also still finding myself as a poet and a writer. What I wish someone had told me when I was younger, as a young woman and a budding poet — I wish I had a mentor from my background who encouraged me to pursue that kind of writing. Because I didn’t have a mentor, I didn’t think I was good enough or that it was worth exploring. But now I feel the opposite way — I don’t think there are enough voices like mine in that style of writing.

If you want to write, go for it — put your voice out there!

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