Imagine that you have a house. To get to the attic, you’ve got to go around the back of the house, up the escape ladder, and through a little attic window.
That’s how Mona describes where a poem is found, or how a poem needs to be ‘captured’.
Mona is an award-winning poet and her debut novel, Somebody Loves You, is due to be published this year. Contrast the ‘poem in the attic’ with the ‘prose on the table’. One of the most interesting parts of our chat was the difference in how she crafts poetry versus prose: the continuity, the containability, and the musical accompaniment.
Mona is also a former human rights lawyer, and is now a professor of English and Law. Early on in our conversation, we talk about the value of poetry against the sociocultural backdrop of today, the role of poets in sparking empathy, and writing about beauty—especially if you’re a poet of colour.
As a lawyer, poet, and mother, what does feminism mean to her? It’s about understanding that you always have your sister’s back: everyone should be a feminist.
“I have a really great group of female friends. We celebrate each other. I think the word “sisterhood" is really underused. It's a brilliant word because it means looking after each other, giving a shout out, and celebrating each other's work.”
Or should we also say: advocating for each other.