Today we get the chance to talk to poetic flutist and long time NWA writer Mayi Ojisua about the egg of ideas in his stomach, and other thoughts on living in Chicago.
What is your name?
My name is Mayi D Ojisua.
If you had to give yourself a title, what would it be?
If I have to give myself a title, the title I’ll give myself is poetic flutist. To be a poetic flutist is to create a combination of fluting and poetry intertwined to enhance a poetic feeling and greater meaning, and give greater pleasure.
How long have you lived in Chicago?
I was born in Nigeria, Africa. I have lived in the Chicago area for the past 15 years, and it is where I have managed my own creative studio.
Tell us something about your neighborhood.
Uptown is an interesting neighborhood to live and work in. Uptown has cultural diversity and both ethnic and social mingling.
Tell us something about Chicago. Why do you live here?
I choose to live in the Chicago area because it is community friendly. And all the things I like to see and do are available. Public transportation, movies, and musical sites are put within my reach.
How are you affiliated with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA)? How long have you been involved with NWA?
I have been writing with NWA at the Bezazian Library writing workshop in Uptown for over 10 years.
Why are you involved with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance?
I am involved with NWA because everyone has something to say and NWA makes it possible for others to hear you. I have an egg of ideas in my stomach, and NWA has been helping and making it possible to lay and hatch the egg in my stomach.
What does NWA’s motto, “Every Person Is a Philosopher,” mean to you?
“Every Person Is a Philosopher” means to me that everyone has a dream or an egg or something in their stomach. NWA has helped and is helping me and others to achieve such dreams. NWA has become a vehicle for some of the stories and poems we all have within.
What is your arts background? How has the Neighborhood Writing Alliance changed the way that you think about the writing process?
I am the first poetic flutist that I know who is writing his poems with his flute and producing a calming poetic relaxation effect. I had never understood poetry, even though I admire poets and poetry. I feel translating my own writing with my own fluting changes the feeling of the poem. I want to include the listeners’ interest into the written word.
Tell us about a piece published in the Journal of Ordinary Thought that has spoken to you. Why did it stand out to you?
The pieces published by JOT have spoken to me in several publications. However to me, my own poem, “The Painting of a Poet” summarizes a complete Chicago and general social behavior.
THE PAINTING OF A POET
Mayi D. Ojisua
to figures of roses
Moving on my window
The moon stood,
beside the stars spread.
rested on two spider plants.
There was a mood
on the street.
The half awake,
reflect feelings of desire,
plums of pleasure
cottoned into bold
whispers of darkness.
I squeezed my pillow,
closed my window
just to silence
the Chicago wind.
Around the corner,
where brothers are dancing
for one loaf of bread,
a loaf left over
among the flowers
running after a pimp,
and those who have nothing to die for
are shouting to be king
The wind troubled my window
smashing into echoes
of a dead, cold city,
shreds and fragments of promises
from the lips of those
who are not yet to sleep.
The rain, trapped,
bleeding the tears of heaven
on a broken glass.
“The Painting of a Poet” was published in “Sticky Situations,” the Summer 2005 issue of JOT.
Why do you think the Journal of Ordinary Thought is important?
The Journal of Ordinary Thought is very important because the voices of the oppressed that had no access to be heard are heard through JOT publications. This is important to me, and it enhances my own creativity and gives me more room to explore and expand.
What’s a social justice issue on your mind right now? What is the most pressing issue in your community? Please explain.
The pressing social justice issues on my mind are family division, drugs, and homelessness. Families are divided. Homes are broken. Idled families become unhappy, and unhappiness is turned into short happiness like drugs and money. The quest for drugs becomes jail time and then out of jail to homelessness. All of the above have become victims of inequality in the activity of our daily living. These are social ills and injustices that must be addressed and eradicated.
What are your hobbies and interests?
My interests are writing and painting, photography, graphic design, composing, and producing my own relaxation music called poetic fluting.
What book has impacted you recently?
The book that has impacted me the most is Animal Farm by George Orwell. It shows an example of an oppressive society. It also shows how difficult it would be to set and obey the laws of equality. However, efforts are being made by various groups; writers and poets speak out on the subject of inequality, and someday, understanding will change our minds.
To read more from Mayi, and to hear some examples of his poetic fluting, visit his website: www.mayismusic.com.
In keeping with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance’s motto, “Every Person Is a Philosopher,” Meet the Philosophers is a column featuring profiles of members of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance community. Here, we survey their role in our organization and pick their brains about writing, social justice, art, and Chicago.