Hello, kindred-spirits! We’re very excited to highlight this next person, as he is a new type of poet that we’ve welcomed into our Bahraini book community! This author is a well known Instagram poet who has performed at several open mic nights. Some say his poetic words are realistic yet imaginative, that they are the hard-truths from which the voice behind them, speaks for those who would otherwise be too afraid to speak up. And some described him as resilient, empathetic and a healer. Ladies and gents...Digital Abdullah!
Najla Qamber Designs: Hey Abdullah, thanks for agreeing to this interview! So question numero uno. Poetry. How did it start with you?
Digital Abdullah: I’ve always been a writer, but for a long time I didn’t know it because I had other interests. I started getting into poetry when I was a few years into college. I was bouncing between being a student and an employee while struggling with detachment from social life, anxiety, and loneliness. Poetry is, by definition, an expression of feelings and ideas through rhythm and style. It’s been the perfect way for me to talk about my feelings and ideas when I had no one to talk to. I would say poetry has saved me.
NQD: What inspires you as a writer?
D.A: Overall, I get inspiration from almost anywhere, listening to music, conversations with friends, a quote from a book, a post on social media, an extraordinary basketball player (RIP Kobe) and anything in between. But I want to emphasize on music, because many of my poems are written in a similar structure of hip-hop lyrics. Some are actually songs disguised as poems. So I’d say music, mainly hip-hop music, is my biggest source of inspiration.
NQD: Do you feel that your written words have made an impact on your readers? Can you talk to us about your positive/negative reactions from them?
D.A: Absolutely, I get emotional when I find out how my work touched others. It’s my biggest achievement. I've received many messages and comments from people expressing how they related and felt heard by some of my work. What’s even more special is people who admitted that they cried reading it, and those who genuinely laughed at the occasional humorous poems I wrote. I can’t think of any negative reactions to my writing, probably because I don’t give it attention and focus on getting better. I’m my own worst critic and that’s enough criticism.
NQD: Talk to us about your logo. What’s the story behind that?
D.A: I came up with the idea when the song “ELEMENT” by Kendrick Lamar was stuck in my head for a week or so. I’m also a fan of, Breaking Bad, so it made sense at the time to make this my logo. I’m not a design expert, but I wanted something minimalistic and straightforward. It only contains the letters DA (Digital Abdullah) and the number 90 (1990) in a square. It’s perfect, at least to me.
NQD: You’ve performed on several open mic nights where you’ve read your poetry aloud to a live audience. Talk to us about that first experience versus your latest one.
D.A: My first poetry night was a terrifying experience, it was my first time walking into the place that hosted the event, Sonder. I performed one poem and fled the place once the event finished because of how awkward and stressed I was. I’ve been performing every month for almost two years and I still get stressed a lot, but I’m more comfortable now compared to my first time. I spend more time on stage and engage with the audience in ways I never imagined. I also stay long after the event is finished to talk with other performers and people from the crowd. It’s a beautiful feeling.
NQD: Poetry on Instagram is a budding genre and you yourself are an Instagram poet with over 1500 followers online. What are your thoughts on the people who scoff at this genre, claiming its not real poetry?
D.A: It actually took me a while to share my writings on Instagram. I didn’t feel it’s the right place and I wasn’t aware of Instagram poetry being an entire genre with its own community. Today, I truly believe poetry has a place on Instagram as much as other forms of creative expression. People who enjoy “real poetry” shouldn’t look down on others for trying to practice their craft, instead, we should welcome and encourage everyone.
NQD: You’re not only an active poet, but you’re also a photographer. What does each medium mean to you and your craft?
D.A: I started photography in April 2017. It was my first time touching a camera, and it helped me a lot at seeing the world from new perspectives and exploring my environment more than I used to. I’m not as passionate about it as writing, it’s just a hobby. However, I think poetry and photography complete each other. Poetry is the expression of feelings and ideas through words that make us experience things visuals can’t do, and photography is the expression of feelings and ideas through still images, in ways a thousand words can’t describe.
NQD: You’ve collaborated with @paperboatdoodles, a Bahrain-based artist on Instagram and published on Sekka Magazine. How did that come about for you both, and what have you learned from this collaboration?
D.A: This collaboration was quite interesting because I didn’t know who I was collaborating with at the time. The people at Sekka paired me with this artist and they did a good job. I was amazed by Hana’s work when it finally came out. I’m familiar with her work and actually bought a cool Ravenclaw shirt that she made. I definitely got more interested in collaborating with artists. People are capable of creating amazing things when they combine their forces.
NQD: What would you say is your favorite part about being a poet?
D.A: It’s a very accessible form of expression. Where photography needs a camera and a painter needs paint, to be a poet you just need a pen and paper, or in this digital age, a phone. I love that I can write my ideas whenever I am, in fact, I wrote many of my poems at work (don’t tell my boss).
NQD: Do you have any plans of publishing your own book via a publishing house or independently? And if you were to publish your own book, what would be your priority in terms of a book cover design?
D.A: Yes, I do have plans for a book or two at the moment. I want to share my work in different, more physical forms. I’m also interested in more visual forms, it could be illustrated books, short films, or anything in between. I’ll figure something out. In terms of book cover design, it’s important to me to have it made by a local artist that completely understands my work. I believe Bahrain has artists and designers who could create artworks that deserve international recognition.
NQD: Could you create a book title off the top of your head?
D.A: I’m just going to reveal the title of a book I’ve been working on in secret for a while, it’s “Life of the Lifeless.”