Monday, January 24, 2011

Poetic Profile: Dr. Niama L. Williams

1) How would you describe your poetry?

Like a running river that is full of glass, shards, lilies, roses, carnations--all things bright and beautiful and remnants of what has broken our souls. Our lives are often like that: we are made up of what has nearly broken us and what has solidified the weak parts. I bring both together in poetry and prose, my prose particularly, that runs the path of stream of consciousness. A good friend once said she would not buy my book if she found it in the bookstore. I laughingly queried, why? "Cause I had to work too damn hard!" she exclaimed. "I was lookin' shit up in the dictionary, reachin' for the thesaurus; I was workin' too damn hard! One minute you sound like Fifth and Central; the next like a Ph.D.!" I had to agree, and yet my friend in Tennessee's mother read THE JOURNEY and loved it--she with an eighth grade education.

2) How does poetry fit into your everyday life?

It keeps me sane and breathing calmly. Without poetry I would stumble at understanding and comprehending my world. The difficult things don't make sense if I cannot think about them and then sit down and write what God says about them and sends over the transom. For me, poetry and prose are about listening; picking up the pen, or sending out a message, "I want to write about x" and waiting for God to send the words. When He does, whatever I am struggling with begins to make sense and ceases to terrify or humiliate. That is something for which I thank the heavens daily, and the angels routinely.

3) What poets and/or authors inspire you?

An easy one!!!! Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison (THE BLUEST EYE is THE perfect novel just as BELOVED is THE best film), Alice Walker (whom I routinely refer to as "Auntie Alice" her work hits so close to the bone!), Andre Dubus's House of Sand and Fog (the book, not the film), John Edgar Wideman, especially his DAMBALLAH; T. S. Eliot and his Prufrock, also The Wasteland (hard as hell to read, but oh the joy in deciphering!); Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes; for fun, Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels and Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone and Spenser novels.

4) How does the community of Philadelphia play a part in your poetry?

Where else would I read??? :-) My first venues were in Philadelphia and I am determined to make it here. That is not easy. I am devoted to Panoramic Poetry; Crucial and Lamar and the Redcrosses have done so much to help poets and artists. Yet making it as a poet in this city is no easy thing. Takes money, time, and effort; I am determined to do all three differently in 2011. 2012 will not find me scraping the bottom of the barrel to survive; not if I and the Lord have anything to say about it!

5) What is the last book you have read that you enjoyed? Tell our Big Blue Marble community a little about it.

Andre Dubus' HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG was a stunner. Every page I turned I THOUGHT I knew what was coming next, and every time I turned that page I was shocked out of my shoes. This man, this writer, had me pulling FOR the former Iranian general and AGAINST the blond white woman! I found this novel astounding for those two reasons; I never anticipated one plot point and I became firmer and firmer in my desire for the Iranian general to just destroy this woman and make short work of it too. He had me going against everything that represented the American dream, and happily too. Masterful.

Dr. Niama L. Williams
is the guiding force behind Blowing Up Barriers Enterprises, a company that specializes in leading you to the life you have dreamed of living but can't quite seem to get to on your own. She is the author of 11 books, each describing her survival of trauma and celebrating those who have assisted her as she's walked her path. Dr. Ni also facilitates two workshop series, "Affirming the Fully Imagined Life" and "It"s Okay To Want: Eroticism and the Survival of Sexual Trauma" and interviews authors on "Poetry & Prose & Anything Goes with Dr. Ni" under the auspices of Review her credentials, publications and workshop descriptions at her website: or peruse one of her books for yourself at her storefront:

1 comment:

Miriam Sagan said...

Thank you--I enjoyed this. I'm always fascinated by what poets say about themselves. I've been asking numerous poets the same three questions--and the answers are quite intriguing. Taken together, it almost seems like a dialogue. Thank you for posting this.I found the community question especially thoughtful.