The poetry of Muhammad Kasule (’18) has been a frequent delight at Clark Writes forums and on the blog since Kasule’s sophomore year. His work provides unique and very raw perspectives on human life and the natural world. He was written about a lesbian couple through floral imagery in “The Seeds We Grow,” and about the suffering of an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease in “The Picture Album.” Read editor Mehr Gunawardena’s interview with him, and check out some of his work below.
MG: How did you get into poetry?
MK: I used to write poetry for my mum, when I was young. Then I stopped after my teenage years.
MG: Your angst-y teenage years? [Laughs].
MK: [Laughs] Maybe. But when I first came here, in my FYI, for my final project, I wrote a poem. And after that… I just wrote. For that poem, I tried to embody how the earth feels. In a way, I tried to make the earth animate. Most of the time, environmental issues are because we lack this kind of perspective—we say “Mother Earth” and all, but it sucks, we look at the earth and just see an inanimate object. Which it technically is, in a sense, but not really. In that piece, I tried to make the earth seem a lot more alive, a lot more human. I gave her dreams, ambitions, feelings… being able to connect to earth on that level might change the way we treat her. I want to make things more relatable.
MG: What is writing to you?
MK: For me, it’s getting into other people’s heads, not so much my own. I’m already in that. I try to understand other people’s situations and see what other people would do. It is easy to say I’d do so and so, and such and such, but, if you are in someone else’s situation—things change. I really try to make that embodiment as true as possible.
MG: Okay, so what is your writing process?
MK: My writing process usually involves picking a random person, thing—inanimate or animate—and putting it in a random scenario. In this one piece I just picked…what it feels like to be an old person in an apartment, and I just kind of built this story about why this person was feeling down. I like to explore different ideas, and once I have my scenery and what the person is going through (it doesn’t have to be a person, I once wrote about a castle and how it was feeling), it just slowly builds after that.
MG: What is your favorite poem?
MK: I don’t read a lot of poetry, actually. [Laughs] But, I really love “The Tyger” by William Blake. The way he manages to bring the power of God’s presence and embody that stature of God into this living thing, the tiger. I feel that the reverence that people look at God with, he managed to pull from that and describe the tiger as well. I could feel the tiger, feel its power. I find that a brilliant piece of writing.