From a Newtown Literary contributor: Nadia L. Bongo

Writer Nadia L. Bongo’s work was featured in issue #17 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed her about her writing and her answers are below. For more, you can follow her on Facebook at Nadia L Bongo or at her Linktree.

When you think of Queens, what first comes to mind?


When I think of Queens, I think about Jackson Heights, the private little gardens, the different people, the plants, and the Queens Public Library branch two blocks from my place.


How does Queens influence your writing?


Queens influences my writing because it is such a green area; I truly enjoy looking at the trees and little gardens on my way to the train station. When I moved here a few summers ago, there were fireflies floating around on the sidewalk. Nature has a fierce beauty that astounds me. Moreover, living in a diverse and affordable neighborhood gives me more time to read and write, instead of worrying about rent.


What is the last piece of writing you read that made you laugh or cry (or just especially moved you)?


The last piece of writing that made me cry was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.


What inspires you? Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your poems featured in the journal?


Everything inspires me: books, movies, dreams, and even conversations, especially absurd or fantastical ones. It also has to be etched by a physical sensation. For instance, my poem “Orange” was inspired by my conversation with a woman who complained that her older Chinese relatives never give proper directions. When I last visited my own country; a friend of mine gave me directions to her new house in the vague manner we do in my country, and I felt at home.


“Out of Focus” came from how lonely and cold I felt sitting next to a friend who kept looking at his reflection in the glass window. “Luxury” came from the thought that wealth does not always mean comfort, especially for children. Finally, “Body Parted” was mainly inspired by my lovely walks in Queens. They make me feel so aware of my body and how fundamentally asymmetrical it is.


What does your writing process/routine look like?


At my desk, I can get stuck because I have time and distractions, so I write in different places. When I struggle with something, it helps to write on the subway going somewhere far. The best for me is to go out and start writing at the library or a coffee place for an hour or two; then it gets easier to continue the work at home later. When I revise a poem, I put on Sade’s music; if the poem clashes with it, then something doesn’t work. Finally, I also attend creative writing circles and workshops.


When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?


Before the pandemic, I loved going to the library, museums, and to the movies. I also love reading, watching movies and a few series. To unwind, I sing a lot and listen to music. Many of my friends live far away, and I love catching up with them on the phone.


What writing project(s) are you currently working on?


I’m working on a poetry collection that was supposed to be about colors, but it’s taking on a life of its own. I also love writing fiction, and I am trying to make progress on a novella I started a year ago.


Thanks, Nadia!

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