Q & A with Rania M. M. Watts, writer and poet
Rania M. M. Watts self-published her first two books Cement Covered Ink Quills & Rarities and Summer to Summer Rewind! Her third book, Cockroach Blueprint, was published by KUBOA Press in 2017. Rania returned last year to self publish her fourth book Accordions & Moustaches. Rania’s also been published by the 48th Street Press Broadside Series and the Open Minds Quarterly special classroom edition, which has been used to educate college and high school students on mental health issues. She has written for two music blogs based in the UK, as a reviewer and journalist, The Punk Archive and Music Gateway, respectively. Rania has had numerous detours away from poetry, including earning a Social Service Worker Diploma from Centennial College. The focus of Rania’s studies encompassed: HIV/AIDS Awareness, Prevention, Advocacy and Suicidal Ideation. She dabbles in myriad of art mediums, however, is most at home with a pen, crayon, eyeliner, quill and any type of parchment. Always deemed a freak of nature because of her outlooks and perceptions, Rania’s allowed her imagination to dominate her core since the age of 13 when she told Mr. N, her Grade 8 teacher, that she desperately wanted to flee to Europe with a typewriter and create poetry in fields of long grass… Connect with her on IG: @cement.covered.ink.quills & @poetryolympics. You can also find her on her blog or on her Amazon page.
GB: Rania, thanks for taking some time to talk. Can you share a little bit more about yourself? Any background info that’s NOT in the bio?
RW: One thing, my bio doesn’t state is that I am a mother of 3… so life gets busy sometimes in this house — between homework and projects there’s propensity for constant loud noise in my home. There’s always something to do and a lot of the time writing has had to take a back seat to what I really want to be able to accomplish poetry wise. But I have to admit children do not hinder the creative process but; also have the potential to prosper because at their age any thing is possible. It really forces me to look inward and realise they are right — anything is possible.
GB: The Poetry Olympics project you’ve built is incredibly refreshing in a world full of insta-noise. What’s the inspiration? What’s its manifesto?
RW: To be honest with you, writer’s block is the inspiration behind The Poetry Olympics. Last year around this time I felt as though I’d completely lost my voice. My writing had dwindled to absolutely nothing. I did not want to touch a pen or go to the computer to write anymore. I was beyond depressed because I had no idea what I was going to do if I did not write poetry. I thought I had lost my love of words and that they would never come back. My friend Tony reminded me that it was just writers block and that I could overcome it and then started to suggest a bunch of activities I could do to get my voice back and then he said “you could have the first ever Poetry Olympics.” When I heard that I ran with it right away started a new page on my site just for the Olympics and opened an Instagram page exclusively devoted to the Poetry Olympics. Its manifesto is simple, it follows the basic principles behind the Athletic Olympics that occur every four years which is: Friendship, Excellence and Respect. Last year we had book prizes that had been donated this year we are doing something different. We are asking those who wish to donate prizes for either a song or spokenverse piece. There are still spots left actually so if anyone wants to donate they can send up to a max of 5 songs or spokenverse pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GB: Is there any advice you have for someone looking to launch their creative career?
RW: The only solid advice that I could really give is to stay true to yourself and the work you create. Because if you are disingenuous with the words you create on a level that should never exist as honesty to yourself is your biggest weapon. I’ll be it sometimes, it doesn’t matter what others think of you, in the grand scheme you have to put yourself and your creativity first before you reach out for criticism. And to most definitely regardless of your background or adversity simply bloom where you are planted regardless of the terrain. One can prosper anywhere with a hard amount of work and the proper inspiration.
GB: What’s your process like? Do you have any takeaway routines or strategies?
RW: My process is simple, I have a note pad where I chicken scratch whatever ideas I have in my mind — at the time — then either transfer it to a good copy or sometimes I go right to the computer. My moods go up and down a lot so to have a stable process is not something that exists in my mind. Or other times I’ll turn to my phone — it’s ridiculous how many notes I have on there.
GB: What other types of art do you like to experiment with? Why?
RW: I like to paint and layer acrylic paint — it’s such a soothing feeling to feel the paint give under a heavy-handed brush in creating nice smooth strokes. I also have an ancient IBM flowchart stencil where I explore drawing various geometric shaped art before colouring it in. I like drawing with shapes the lines need to be very precise which I feel gives me a sense of control to not create messy art — even though art can be messy on so many levels.
GB: If you could use one word or phrase to describe your work’s message, what would it be and why?
RW: The human condition. I’ve always been interested in learning about different people and their truths — probably why I like to interview so much — you gain a strong insight on your subject and are at times able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The human condition and the verity of humanity has been a subject that has been a genuine source of interest since I was in second year at Centennial College. There is just something I find so fascinating about learning other peoples truths.
GB: Who and what is on your MUST-READ list?
RW: Oh, that’s a tricky question there are so many, um first and foremost you, Scott Laudati, Karina Bush, Eric Keegan, Christina Hart, Sonja McClure & Joh Lupin to name a few.
GB: What does “success” mean to you?
RW: When one person reads my blog and takes something positive from it. There is a lot of ugliness in this world, I try to write about subjects that can be difficult where adversity brings you to the top plain. I’ve never measured success by money as it can come and go so easily.
GB: What’s next for Rania M. M. Watts? Got any upcoming projects we can look out for?
RW: I’m currently working on my fifth book, Verity. It’s a dialogue book that contains 33 different conversations with different items, people and places.
Interview originally published in May 2019 at ONLY HUMAN. If you enjoyed this conversation, please recommend, comment, 👏👏👏 and share. Sign up for the Bing Bang Co. newsletter to see more!