7 Answers – Interview & Introduction


7 Questions.jpgA few months ago, I was featured in “Seven Questions…” – a popular column of a UK based newspaper for the Polish diaspora. The interview format was quite unusual. I was given a number of one word/two-word questions to choose from and asked to develop answers based on whatever reflections they triggered in my mind.

When the interview came out I promised my English-speaking readers its translation, so here it comes – slightly adapted for this blog but true to the heart of our conversation.

Monika Ribeiro

Writer, Poet. Published two books with inspiring poetry and short stories – “Do Lend Me Your Ears” and “Love, don’t Fear” – currently writing her third book (epic novel). She comes from Poland, completed a master’s degree course in marketing and management at the University of Szczecin. She has lived in London for the past 15 years.

Colour

Black and white, hence brown… like my skin which reflects the fusion of two cultures – Nigerian (my dad’s side) and Polish (my mum’s). My parents met when they were students at the Technical University of Lodz. For the first few months after I was born, subsequently every now and then: I’ve lived there with them – in a student home. Skin colour means nothing because we all belong to one race – human race.

Place

The old town of Barcelona. The beach, sun, museums, beautiful antique buildings, music… One of my visits, about 4 years ago, is especially engraved in my memory. One morning, in the search of peace I discovered Museu Frederic Marés… I spent half of my day there – writing, staring at tourists and artists immersed in high-focus drawing… I lost the sense of time. On the other hand, London is the city where I don’t feel different – where I can get lost in the crowd. Here, I met my husband Miguel, started my adult life and gave birth to three kids.

Life’s Motto

Never Give Up because Nothing is Impossible. This thought subtly but consistently re-appears in my poetry and life choices.

Join me on Insta

Hobby

Writing. It’s my passion, therapy and career choice. It’s great when a reader or listener comes back to tell me how much they appreciate my creations, but the writing process is just as important as the final effect. During the process, I experience an emotional catharsis and feelings stronger than those I get whilst travelling because when you write you’re allowed to create new places instead of merely discovering them. The book I’m working on now is about love, friendship, the pursuit of happiness, finding God and fighting for your dream…

Music

It has to be positive and spirit lifting. Melody, of course, is important but first and foremost, I care about the lyrics and the atmosphere a musical piece creates…

Book

The Bible. 15 years ago, I was in Paris visiting Ayo (who authored the foreword to my book “Love, don’t Fear”). One evening, in preparation for travel, she was packing her suitcase: clothes, jewellery, a storm of colours. What struck me was that, in spite of a relatively small travel-bag, she packed three bibles – English, German and French… Many things have happened since then, but the Scriptures still are my main spiritual food. They helped me get rid of a few-year long depression and they’re the source of daily wisdoms I have not found in any other book.

Film

“Rocky” with Sylvester Stallone. A story about a small-time boxer realising his dreams of becoming the heavy-weight world champion. I watched the series a few times and will probably watch them again. Highlights – literal and metaphorical battle, facing his opponent but mostly himself, love… Main message – fight until the end, don’t lose faith, love and respect others…

 

If you speak Polish, see the first pic above with the original interview. Join me on Instagram too. 

Racism, Politics & the Spirit of Fear


Martin Luther King

Yesterday, I was verbally attacked for not being fully black (my mum’s white)… I couldn’t believe the hatred that came out of the person’s mouth. They directed racist abuse towards me – pointing out my background, my skin being fairer than theirs and my hair being too long to be “black”. Whaaaat?! Are we really going there, again? 

This happens to me every now and then (click here to read), but whenever it does it’s still a shock to my system, especially when it’s done by someone who’s close to my heart.

I won’t say who they were because I’m not here to fight the perpetrator, but I do want to come against the spirit (of fear). That person has been following American politics and got infuriated by president Trump’s racial attacks on 4 democratic women of colour… I understand why he felt angry, but he did to me the exact same thing Trump did to the other women. That’s what fear does – it makes you irrationally hate another… Reverse racism does exist. Since when are all white people responsible for evil actions of one or even a group of “their kind”? By that standard, should all black people be responsible for evil actions of one or a group of “their kind”? Moreover, being mixed-raced, should we be responsible for every crazy utterance of every black and/or white person? This… is… madness! We are individuals responsible for our own actions and nobody else’s. 

Instagram This Conversation

I don’t support the American president’s racist comments and the dangerous ways in which he carries on in his role. I don’t know much about politics, but my heart sank when he became the head of the state… Still, I don’t appreciate the vulgar way in which one of the women expressed her desire to impeach him. I understand her anger, but there’s a better way (language) to confront evil. We cannot fight fire with fire and we can definitely not fight racism with more racism… Two wrongs don’t make a right. Why do we remember and respect men like dr Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela? Because, despite injustice and cruelty, they responded with love and reason. They did not debase themselves to the level of those misguided by hatred and othering… 

We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen here. Bad people further their evil agendas… Is it difficult to manoeuvre through the darkness? Yes! The only thing that centres me is knowing that in the midst of it all, God is still in control. And, that there will be a time when all lies will be exposed and the truth will stand. It may not be  for another hundred years, or it might be tomorrow – but that time will come. In the meantime, we have to stay close to Him or our hearts will surely fail out of fear… 

I’d like to conclude with the following verses from the Bible which is what helps me with my own struggles in this area…

Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken…” 

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Extraordinary Things in Ordinary Places


Two weeks have passed since my poetry evening. I’ve had some time to reflect and would love to share my thoughts with you…

After-Party Poetry Evening.jpg

The event was a success. The venue turned out to be the right one, and it was full. Due to previously mentioned last-minute changes, I had less than 3,5 weeks to promote the show, hence filling it up was probably one of my main concerns…

Testimonial Joanna.jpgSome of the words attendees used to describe this poetry evening were: eclectic, organic, inclusive, something different… Paul, one of the guests, said that it was “an interesting, colourfully put together event”. 😊 David, another guest, apart from leaving a solid testimonial in the pic above, said the event was “low key, but nice”… People got inspired to write, create and many met other like-minded folks. Yuppie! For the purpose of this post, however, I would like to zero in on David’s initial thoughts – low key but nice…

Ostentatious is, in my opinion, the best antonym of low key. This event wasn’t that… I’m not saying there’s something wrong with showy presentations, but they’re not in my nature. Plus, if I’m honest, I didn’t have an “ostentatious” budget this time around.

Testimonial Desiri.jpgWell, even though my poetry evening could be considered low–profile – we had some interesting guests in our midst. There were award-winning authors, publishers and other creatives who’re experts in their respective fields. Why is this important? Because they’re the ones who can teach budding or fellow creative-entrepreneurs a thing or two about their craft… Then again, I think that some of the lessons many super–talented (especially young) creatives need the most are life lessons which you don’t learn at school.

I found the following claim in an article by independent.co.uk: “For people in Britain, everyday problems can seem like the end of the world – and most of us are guilty of complaining about things like bad weather…” I’m guilty as charged (every now and then)… It was extremely hot on the day! After the event, a few of us met at a local café… I had only brief conversations with most people, but one of them still resonates with me. The guest’s a filmmaker, whose first film won the Palme D’or at the 50th Cannes Film Festival. We spoke a little about her films which was fantastic, however, what struck me the most was what she said about preparation.

She said she didn’t like to complain about things she couldn’t change, and the weather (hot, cold, or rainy…) made no difference to her. She said – the only people who complain about things are those who aren’t prepared… The topic of preparation is deep and wide – it can include many different aspects, besides the weather. Yet, my take away from the conversation’s that preparation is key, and as the saying goes – by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail…  

Extraordinary things do happen in ordinary places. Don’t take people for granted or you’ll miss whatever help God may be trying to send your way. Also, remember – help isn’t always material. Sometimes, it is the right word at just the right time. I hope this helps.

‘Twas a good evening, everybody. Track my event journey by checking out the previous post and by following me on Facebook and Instagram @monikaribeiro.writer.

Poetry Evening – Only 7 Days Away


Free Poetry Event London

I’m beginning to get those butterflies whenever I think that my first poetry evening in years is only 7 days away! Thank God, in spite of initial roadblocks, I’m calm and positive about it… All in all, those are friendly butterflies – they can stay, for now, as long as they don’t misbehave.

It’s not butterflies that make this event special though, but the artists who offered to contribute… Poetry Evening with Monika Ribeiro & Friends Line-up Includes:

Lyrical Healer – Bestselling Author, Poet/Singer whose work was featured on BBC iPlayer, Virgin TV, BBC London radio…

Desiri Okobia – Author, Poet, English Literature Teacher…

PK Boadi – Multiple Award-Winning Gospel Musician…

Avril Swift – Theatre Actress as seen in “Daisy pulls it off” at the Miller Centre Theatre Company Productions…

Nigel Swift Contributes at a Theatre; Plays the Flute…

Monika Ribeiro – Author, Poet as seen in Polish Weekly, Goniec Polski, Nigeria MagazineBlack Heritage Today…

You may remember Lyrical Healer, aka Winsome Duncan, from my interview with her (on the subject of creative entrepreneurship). On that note, this event is also an opportunity to network with like-minded creative entrepreneurs.

Likewise, I had already introduced the author of “Diaries of a Visionary” and “Bodel” – Desiri Okobia who did a great job at recording the voice-over for my poem titled “I saw her smile”.

PK Boadi is a multi–award–winning Gospel musician whom I’ve also mentioned a few times before. Moreover, in my “other life”, as a journalist, I wrote about him winning AGMA Discovery of the Year 2012. He has won many more awards since then…

Avril Swift, in January this year, played Alice Fitzpatrick in “Daisy pulls it off” by an Irish screenwriter Denise Deegan. Having seen Avril in action, on a few occasions, I fell in love with her dramatic expressions. I’m super glad that she’ll be a part of this eve.

Nigel Swift, too, is an occasional actor who happens to play the flute beautifully. When he plays, I feel transported to another – very tranquil place in my mind.

Both Avril and Nigel will read and perform from my books “Love, don’t Fear” and “Do Lend Me Your Ears”. Topping it all off, Nigel will play a few beautiful melodies on his flute as well… 

I have no doubt that this will be an evening worth remembering… Still, if you’re unsure if it’s for you, find MORE INFORMATION HERE and/or watch out for brief previews in my Instagram Stories. I plan to post them daily starting from tomorrow…

Let’s Meet Offline. 😊

Poetry Evening – Let’s Meet Offline!


Stanley Halls EventEverything happens for a reason… It has been a while since I posted on my blog, I know… However, it’s been even longer since I hosted a poetry evening offline. It’s been too long… With that being said, I have one coming up in three weeks, on the 29th of June at 17:30 pm.

Place: Stanley Halls, London, 12 South Norwood Hill, SE25 6AB

This “Poetry Evening with Monika Ribeiro and Friends” started with a rather significant hiccup though. For a moment, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be writing this blog post. To begin with, last year, I was asked to host a poetry evening. Originally, the event organisers who asked me to do it, were meant to provide the venue… In April this year, we agreed the date and time. Everything was meant to be a–okay, but then… 3,5 weeks before the show, they asked me to change the date explaining that they had double-booked. Whaaaaat?!

I know I know, we all make mistakes. I’ve made plenty all by myself. Still, by then, I had already started promoting slowly and invited five artists to support me. They all agreed and they’re all busy people, so I really didn’t want to change the date which has been on their calendars for a few weeks already. Also, a few days before the venue cancellation, another person, who had seen me perform at other people’s events, DMd me saying that she’d change her work schedule to be there… I mean… changing the date of the event was not an option. I was left with a show but no venue and no promoters to support it… Great! That happened last Monday…

Thank God, without going into too much detail, I was able to find another venue quickly. 😊 That means that we’re back on track and can focus on preparing the show rather than looking for a stage to put it on. Yes, I’m left with less time, but I believe that the show is worth the hustle and that it will be much greater than the off-stage drama. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! 

So, if you are in London on 29.06.19 – please be there. I’d love to meet you, and I wouldn’t want you to miss it! Please RSVP by 27.06.19. 📮 I can’t wait to see you there!

Free Poetry Event – Click to Register Now.

How Everybody Runs – Poem


woman running

Did you notice how everybody runs?

I got caught up in it more than once…

These days, tomorrow happens yesterday –

Human-doings excel, but night blends into day.

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Did you notice how everybody runs?

Where’s the space for friendships,

Or for LOVE and romance?

Did you notice how everybody runs?

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It’s so easy to get caught in this chase –

We don’t like to lose, so we stay in the race.

Did you notice how everybody runs?

Working, like a dog, to improve their chance…

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To advance super-fast and burn out in advance,

Not to look into eyes – maybe… merely glance,

Not to feel anymore, not to laugh or dance…

Do you wonder why everybody runs?

My Poetry Collection & Self-Publishing Update…


Love, don't Fear - Book CoverSince publishing “Love, Don’t Fear”, I have learned a few valuable lessons not only about book publishing but also about myself. Previously, of course, I had discovered that I could do with a little more patience – you’ll find the post on this topic right here “If it’s Broke – Fix It”. 🙂 

Back to right now, though… So far, I have received great feedback from “Love, Don’t Fear” readers – thank you! Yet, I have also received some useful suggestions, on how to improve the book, from the pros. I believe that every writer needs an editor, not only because two heads are better than one, but also because of the strong emotional connections we all have with our works. Such being the case, I try to stay open to constructive criticisms.

On that note, yet digressing slightly, I am currently a one-woman band as far as publishing is concerned, but I am writing my first novel which I hope to publish traditionally… If you are a literary agent, open to submissions, and interested in my work, please get in touch. Let’s talk…

Back to “Love, Don’t Fear” – yesterday, the collection turned one. Happy Birthday!!! (note the emotional connection I was talking about) 😄

giphy

I thought this would be a good time for an update/upgrade if you like. Before I share what changes were made exactly, let me reassure those of you who have already purchased and read the book. The changes aren’t very significant. However, if you’d like to receive a FREE updated version, in the form of an e-book, please contact me at monika@monikaribeiro.net .

I decided not to change the book’s edition, because as mentioned – these changes aren’t that significant. Plus, I’ve updated the price too – partially to reflect alterations, but equally to reflect the time passed since the book’s publication.

To cut this long story short, after considering the advice given to me by two trustworthy (traditional and non-traditional) publishers, I have:

  • updated a few titles;
  • changed the order of poems to improve thematic connections; 
  • added two poem descriptions.

I hesitated about the last one because out of the two people who were my advisers – one said: “add descriptions” and the other one said “don’t”. Well, there are 25 poems in the book and only 2 of them have descriptions now. Based on the readers’ feedback, I believe that most of the poems are self-explanatory and relatable. Plus, I don’t want to completely take away the joy of the reader’s own interpretation. What do you think about this one? 

One more change, that I made on my own initiative, was adding a few additional images to enhance book marketing on Instagram, etc. By the way, please do join me on the platform if you haven’t done so yet – @monikaribeiro.writer 😊

So, yes, the book has been around for one year now, but I believe it is ever-green… It deals with relationships, people, emotions that are difficult to express and stories that happen or could happen in real life. This book is about love, life and doing the above without fear… I think that the need to read this type of stories will always be in us. I believe the book is a little bit like wine which gets better with time.

In closing, to complete this “Love, don’t Fear” update, I would like to share some of the words written by those who read and enjoyed it:

“…‘Love, Don’t Fear’ by Monika Ribeiro is such an amazing book – filled with heart-warming and heart-breaking poems… These poems made me feel less alone.”

Angelina, Nanny from Florence – Arizona

“It is a book for someone who feels challenged by their relationship and can’t find the words to express how they feel. You will discover your own truth in the emotions of these poems.”

Joy, Singer-Songwriter from New York

“I found myself in many of them (poems), especially the story of a broken friendship… Smooth language, very beautiful clarity of words, fantastic wisdom…”

Lina, Artist from Ireland

Please grab your copy of “Love, Don’t Fear” HERE if you’re in the US, or HERE if you’re in the UK. Its digital format is available on Amazon worldwide.

Alternatively, if you’ve read the book, please consider sharing your thoughts by e-mail or in the comments below.

Thank you for being here. I appreciate you! 🙂 

Made of Many Worlds – Poem


Bushy Hair Woman

I was born, brown-skinned and a black-eyed girl,

Into a blue-eyed spot in this world –

Blessed with black, thick and rather frizzy hair

Where hair tends to be silky, smooth, mostly blond.

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When I was a girl, maybe twelve years old,

I would lay my head down, on the ironing board

Because a real iron could tame my real hair…

Benefits seemed great… Risks? I didn’t care.

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Sometimes, I would hurt my neck

While trying to look more like my peers…

My silky, smooth hair would cover the scars,

But couldn’t heal wounds inflicted upon my ears.

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Finally, my strands lost all strength and shine.

Hurt, brittle and broken, they told me the truth:

Silky and smooth was not to be mine –

What was, however, was a gift… divine.

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Some say, I cannot relate to the black woman’s plight.

I’m not brown enough – they say, again and again…

And yet, in the white crowd, my skin’s far from light.

No blue sockets in my eyes, no blue blood in my vein.

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Some say I’m neither, but I share both bloodlines

So, I take the liberty to claim Angelou’s lines

“Out of the hats of history’s shame, I rise”

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise…”

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There are decent and wicked people, in every place.

As Shakespeare well said, many years ago,

“There’s no art to tell the mind’s construction in the face”.

This line could apply to the subject of race…

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There’s more that connects than divides us, you see?

I won’t get offended if you disagree…

But, do look beyond the cover, listen to my words –

We live in a world made of many worlds…

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I live in a world made of many worlds…

Even more come alive in the depths of my mind

I pray that this world, made of many worlds,

Becomes one in the One who is colour-blind.

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Besides, I’m the world that lives within me…

Letter by letter and word by word –

HOW I look at things determines what is…

My own world gets recreated, every day, by me.

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I’m no longer looking for my place in this world…

His sweet spot within me is what I’m striving for.

In the midst of it all, still, I have to believe…

That right now and after… will surpass before.

↓↓↓

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Conversations with a Clock – Poem


old-man-clock

He lived among waiters. They surrounded him
Waiters on the outside – a waiter within
Waiters for their birthday
Waiters for more money
For the kids to leave home
And rain to stop raining.

Once upon a time, he met a wise Clock
It could speak and so it spoke:
“Tick-tock, tick-tock …
If you teach your heart to be grateful and kind
When your time arrives you will not be blind
Tick-tock, tick-tock …”

This waiter was in a rush –
He kept chasing better times
Hence, his ears were widely shut
He’d much rather skip this chat.

Yet,
Tick-tock, tick-tock …
This clock was determined to talk:
“Your life will not last forever…
You cannot afford to be happy never
Tick-tock, tick-tock …”

That verse had the waiter seriously ticked-off
‘Well, I can! And, yes I will!
Clocks can’t tell me how to live!’

“Tick-tock, tick-tock…”

Quietly replied the clock.

giphy clock

Time waits for no one –
Be it Clock, or be it Man
Tick-tock, tick-tock …

Seconds, minutes, hours, smiles
Running fast before his eyes…
Many wasted, every day…

Always chasing what’s away.

.Without words, yet with each TICK
The clock found him more convinced –
Each day truly was his birthday
And life was a birthday gift.

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Slow Walking Man – Poem


Man Walking - Poem
‘Man Walking’ – image by Adam Podlecki

This bench of mine is a little far,
Thick fog & the rain keep blinding my eye
Yet, I’ve embarked upon a task –
Observation of that guy…
Walking, in a misty weather
I noticed him take…
Two steps forward, one step back.

He keeps walking though…
Slow, slow, slow…, but steady…
He keeps on… walking…

Oya! Oya! Honestly,
Someone, shoot a film about him –
Series called “Unhappy Feet.”
Same old picture, every day,
Rain drops falling on his head
Every day, the same old way…
This must be the pace of a snail!

He is rude. Never does he say “hello”
He stepped on my toe a few weeks ago!
Yes, I step on his toes – time after time,
But… my feet are smaller than his –
I’m a lady. He’s a man…

Err…

He’s a walking man, actually
While I am a seating lady…
Wasting my time watching him.

Eh?!
Yes, he might have covered but a little ground,
But I’ve just been seating here. I have covered none!

Oya!!!
Within his slow walk I have parked my nose
Focused on his journey rather than my own…

Oya! Oya! Oya, me!
Watch no more…
Girl, move! Move! Quick!

Meaning of “OYA!” – “Hurry up!” (Nigerian)

 

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