Updated: May 29
The Poet Speaks Podcast: Amanda Eke
Tsunoda Stylings is a Japan-based agency that strives to create successful, responsive websites that are fast, easy to use, and built with the best techniques. At Tsunoda Stylings, we search for new and experienced small business owners looking to promote their businesses without breaking the bank! Not too long after we opened our doors, we received a request from an outstanding spoken-word artist that wanted her website refreshed and redesigned. Please meet Amanda Eke. She is not only the host of The Poet Speaks Podcast, but she also holds workshops all over the globe as well as one-on-one mentorships for anyone wanting to perfect their writing skills. Read more below to learn more about her and what she plans to accomplish with her new site redesigned by Tsunoda Stylings.
Interview with Amanda Eke:
Jasmine: Tell me a little about your background. Have you always been into writing/poetry/spoken word?
Amanda: I am Nigerian American; I grew up in a city/small town called Elk Grove, California. From there, I went to college out in Davis, California, and after that, I moved all the way across the world to Europe for some time, then bounced back to New York for grad school and then some. Spoken Word, writing, and poetry have always been infused in every stage/ place I've been at. However, I finally found the courage to do it professionally and go full throttle with it after I left college.
Jasmine: Where did the Poet Speak Podcast idea/name come from?
Amanda: I didn't know how to read until I was 7 and did not speak until I was 4. The workshop was inspired by the strength of my early childhood difficulties. During my first years of life, the lack of literacy impacted me so much. I needed to find my own voice at an early stage because of those setbacks and wanted to create something that people could latch onto and learn to tell their own stories and narratives.
I created the workshop to create a space for people to really "SPEAK." In addition, my Nigerian heritage plays such a huge part of who I am and is a theme in the workshop. I want people to know and realize that indigenous African traditions (and indigenous traditions everywhere) are so present in everything and everywhere. The oral traditions of our past are so prevalent and important for our present and our futures.
Jasmine: Did you have a particular writer/person/life event that inspired you to take the path of a spoken word performer?
Amanda: My grandfather was a poet himself, and he even authored several books of poetry in Nigeria. What's crazy? I didn't even know this until I started my career in art. I never even had the chance to meet my grandpa, but the parallels are crazy. He passed right before my mother found out she was pregnant with me. I feel I have been directly influenced by him to be a Spoken Word poet in some spiritual, unexplainable way.
Jasmine: What writers/genres do you enjoy reading in your free time?
Amanda:: I love reading anything relating to psychology and healing in my free time. I have become a big fan of Dr. Ramani Durvursala's work. I also just love reading people's blog posts. Some would even call the thoughts of the everyday mind mundane, boring. In addition, I read novels from time to time; fantasy and crime fiction always get me excited.
Jasmine: Do you find writing easy? What is your process when coming up with interview questions for your guests?
Amanda: I find writing easy for the most part. If my mind takes me to write, I write, and I write with a hunger. When it does not fall upon me, I don't write. I don't call it writer's block. I just boil it down to, I need to go explore and feel some more before returning to my writing. As it pertains to my interview questions for my show, I come up with things that I find interesting about the person I am interviewing. I don't like to look at my podcast show as an "interview"; I like to look at it as a conversation. I like to talk to people I find interesting, inspiring, and sometimes just plain weird! (Weird is good!) To me, exploring those depths of the person helps me come up with questions for them.
Jasmine: What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being a writer/podcast host?
Amanda: My favorite part about being a podcast host is being able to write and create your own narrative for a show. It is a whole new level of creativity I get to unlock, being able to pick the brains of other writers and poets in my own way. My least favorite part is the business side. Making sure the t's are crossed, and the i's are dotted. It is tedious work being the boss and running everything yourself. Still, it most definitely is something that I make sure I am good at. It is necessary to check all your boxes to make sure people enjoy the show.
Jasmine: What's the best piece of advice another writer ever gave you?
Amanda: Go slow to go fast. Take your time with all things, and they will always work out in the end. You can't be faltered because one thing did not work out; the other side of that is a whole new story you have yet to uncover.
Jasmine:: Can you give any advice to someone wanting to write or start their own podcast?
Amanda: Just start! Without a doubt, just start; everything, as it pertains to production and marketing, will unravel itself; the hardest part for most people is to just begin it. It takes time, but you will be shocked at what you are already able to do.
Jasmine:: In terms of the overall composition, what is your favorite poem you have written/performed and why?
Amanda: I have a poem called, Generations that I wrote and performed on tour in Trinidad and Tobago that I absolutely love. It is all about the crosses we as people bear from parent to child and the repetition of the cycles of abuse, fear, anger, and trauma. I love to perform it because it is so personal. Everywhere I go and perform that piece, people really feel it, and there is such a connection with my audience.
To me, that is the true power of poetry: bringing those uncomfortable topics to the forefront in spaces where people can hear, listen, and revel in. Art is meant to disturb and take us out of our comfort zone to confront things we push to the back of our minds; that poem truly takes you there. Writing that piece was also just a cathartic experience for me as I just let loose on the paper going back to all the good, bad, and sad of my childhood.
Jasmine:: What interests you about Japan? Why did you move here, and how long do you want to stay?
Amanda: Japan is a very old country with an interesting history. So many layers to it. I moved here due to being offered a position here for teaching and have been able to experience so much with my writing and art. It's a place where a lot is going on, and so many things are contradicting and crossing and being reimagined daily. It's a beautiful mess, truly. I have no clue how long I am staying for but am enjoying the journey thus far.
Jasmine:: How many countries have you performed in so far? Where do you want to go the most?
Amanda: I've performed and toured all over. Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago, Malta, USA, London, just to name a few, and now looking towards Japan. I have been lucky to have been given so many opportunities in such a short amount of time. However, the places I would love to go to most would be Paris and South Africa. The Spoken Word scene in those places is truly phenomenal, and I would love to throw my hat in the ring.
Jasmine:: Given these unusual Covid-19 times, what does a typical tour/performance day look like for you compared to before the pandemic? How have you adjusted to these times?
Amanda: A typical tour/performance day for me is jam-packed. I would typically do press throughout the morning, then do a workshop, eat, do more press and interviews, then perform at night. Touring and performing is very hectic, but you live for it because it's the best way to see your art on the ground and touching people. It is the best way to get your message out there and be able to reach people. The pandemic has completely flipped it.
Now, everything is done online, with limits for actual venues. It has been a damper because, as an artist, I get my energy from talking to people and seeing them in person. However, being online has brought me places quicker than before. I can now do my workshop/ perform in Los Angeles, CA, and the next night I can do the same in Dublin, Ireland, all from the comfort of my own home. I have learned to adjust in different ways to make my art more visible worldwide and what's amazing is, The Poet Speaks Podcast has been born out of these times! The reception has been amazing and has enabled me to make even more global connections with my art. This pandemic has opened the door to a whole new world of possibilities with my Spoken Word.
Jasmine:: Any closing remarks you would like to give to our readers?
Amanda: Check out my podcast, The Poet Speaks Podcast, everywhere streaming for podcasts is available. Also, check out my workshop, The Poet Speaks, on my website for further info to bring the workshop to a place near you! I am looking to bring Spoken Word, poetry, and oral traditions EVERYWHERE. I have some very exciting opportunities for my work globally and want people everywhere to enjoy and learn.
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