Creative writing has simplified my academic journey – Maradun

Jalaludeen Ibrahim Maradun, a poet and writer, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English Linguistics at the University of Bergen, Norway. The immediate past Deputy Dean of Student Affairs Division, Federal University Birnin-kebbi, dissects his literary journey with AWAAL GATA and how it is aiding him scholastically.

Why haven’t you released another book since your first collection was released in 2012?

Before the poetry volume, I had earlier published a novella “Beyond the Setting Sun”, precisely in 2009. I was in my final year at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto then.  After Trance was published in 2012, I started working on a more serious novel. I don’t want to share details of the storyline now because it is still a work-in-progress, but one of the central themes is female empowerment. I grew up in a society where women are less-empowered. They are not encouraged to participate in politics or any other serious economic activity. The majority of them don’t go for tertiary education. They are not encouraged to compete with other women in other parts of the world. My goal with the story is to increase awareness that may help in reducing women’s vulnerability and dependency in our society. I rushed “Beyond the Setting Sun “and I don’t want to repeat that mistake.

Did “Trance” reach the mileage you envisioned for it?

I can conveniently say yes.

How did you become a writer and what do you eventually want to achieve through it?

It all started in my father’s library where I played with books of diverse literary genres. I still remember how I had fun with Alex La Guma’s “A Walk in the Nigh”t and many other books my father used. Then I drew some inspiration from my teachers back at FGC Sokoto and subsequently my lecturers at the University. As a student of life, I decided to explore the world for myself – the world of putting down my thoughts. To start sharing my rough short stories and poems, I joined the National Association of Campus Journalists (NACJ). I would report news and equally publish my creative works on-campus press boards with ease. In my third year in the university as an undergraduate student, I was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Vanguard Press Board and also Editor-in-Chief of my department’s MELLSA Press Board. From there, a certain consciousness began and I started to weave dreams as I felt pen’s supremacy rushing through me from my head to the tips of my fingers and toes. I started writing so visibly that I could not deny it. My main goal is to inform the reader.

Growing up, which were the books you were mostly dieting upon, and how have they left lasting impressions on you?

I was reading everything that came my way. I enjoyed reading Leanne Banks the author of “Troublemaker Bride” (one of those How to Catch a Princess series). I enjoyed reading the thriller writer of all time Rene Lodge Brabazon Raymond well-known by his pseudonym James Hadley Chase. I read more than 60 of his books and my best remains “The Vulture is a Patient Bird.” I enjoyed everything from my namesake the 13th Century mystical poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. I also enjoyed reading the works of Sylvia Plath, Chris Abani, Kofi Awoonor, William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, and David Rubadiri. I still read Abubakar Imam and some interesting Hausa literature. I was also enthused by Achebe’s “The African Trilogy”. Abubakar Gimba’s works have the greatest influence on me, especially his “Sacred Apples”, “A Toast in the Cemetery”, “Innocent Victims”, and “Trail of Sacrifice”. I also loved and still ib love with Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s “Ambiguous Adventure.”

As a scholar of socio-linguistics, did your romance with writing influenced your scholarship choice?

My choice of area of specialisation in the field of linguistic science has no direct link with my being a creative writer – for me, they are two different things and I manage them differently. Interestingly, there is a strong tie between sociolinguistics and creative writing, especially if we look at the linguistic inflections and their nuances which creative writers tend to employ in their literary works. For instance, we can talk about non-standard language varieties in literary writing which can form the basis for sociolinguistic analyses. So creative writing can be a source for sociolinguistic research since we deal with real language use in society – you can call that descriptivism. One thing I know is that my romance with creative writing has significantly simplified my academic journey as an aspiring linguist.

How do you juggle between the two?

I am an academic during the day and a creative writer at night.

What challenges have you been facing as a writer?

Well, I cannot think of any serious challenge other than those challenges every aspiring writer faces, but I am not happy with the waning reading culture among the African youngsters. It discourages.

What are you currently working on and when should it be expected in the public?

I am working on a lot of things at the moment, though I focus more on my research project. I shall return to active writing very soon, and I hope to resume with a renewed dedication. I cannot project when I would produce my next creative work, but it may likely be an epistolary one – I am not sure.

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