Hello there dear readers! This week we are getting closely acquainted with Nabeela Ahmed. Nabeela is a firecracker of creativity, both in terms of producing her own work and in fostering artistry in her community and further afield! Step into her world of stories, poetry and magic…
1. Pitch yourself as a writer in seven words.
Storytelling: like you’re sat around a fire.
2. What personal creative project are you working on at the moment?
I have several projects I am involved in at the moment. I am finishing off the last chapters of my novel.
This spring I will be working with the Young Poet’s Project and will be joining children on a school trip to the Bronte Parsonage and helping them write multilingual and poetry using their own dialects.
I am part of a group translating the Saif ul-Muluk, an epic book of poetry by Mian Mohammed Bakhsh.
I will be delivering a poetry workshop on International Women’s Day at the City Library and performing multilingual poetry at an event for the occasion at the Keighley Women’s Big Night Out.
I am also teaching a creative writing course at Manningham Library and I’m always writing poems and sharing them on various platforms.
3. Name seven books that are a permanent fixture on your shelf (with a little line about why, and a photo of the books stacked up to include in the blog OR if it’s a video you can hold them up, one by one!)
Saif al-Maluk – This book is an epic tale of Ishq told at two levels throughout. At one level you read the story of the prince of Egypt trying to find his true love, the Fairy princess Bathi ul-Jamal and the deeper level which takes you through the journey of the soul and is full of Sufi wisdom. I inherited the love of this book from my granddad and it is precious to me.
The Prophet – I love this book of poetry and wisdom by Khalil Gibran.
Artists Way – I have owned this book for twenty years before I started writing. Sometimes, we fight our own destiny!
Deep Work by Cal Newport – Recommended by a friend, this reminds me how work of depth requires concentration and how to maintain it.
Taghot – This novel was a translation into Urdu and I read it as a YA. It was about a telepathic family from Tel Aviv, who solved crime. I loved their ability to read thoughts and send each other messages when apart and tried to forge this skill for years.
Umrao Jaan Athaa – The famous novel and film by Mirza Ruswa. It is a classic and its reality-based ending changed how I thought about storytelling.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – a recent book I have read which summarises centuries of slavery over seven generations.
4. What are you reading at the moment
This is Happiness by Niall Williams
It is beautifully written and read out on Audible. It is set in a distant parish in Ireland of long ago, just as electricity arrived and everything that life was about in those days. It reminds me of my years in Kashmir, before the electricity arrived, doing my homework in the light of an oil lamp, my clothes being pressed with a coal iron and the excitement when electricity arrived on our little hill.
5. Borrowing from Hemingway’s concept, but with our thematic twist, tell us a seven-word story.
I’ll share the one that was the finalist for Cotswold and Vale Magazine in 2018: Lived my life; still miss you. Sorry, that was a 6 word story competition.
6. This group is named after a bird. If you could spread your wings, take flight, and go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
On an island dedicated to healing, perhaps Iona. I’d leave all the baggage of news and stress of our chaotic world on land before I step foot on the boat taking me there. I’d sleep and wake and eat with natural patterns and shed layers of noise and messages that have stuck to me and then sit with the deep calm inside me.
7. Using seven words only, share a golden nugget of writing advice.
You fail; you learn; you celebrate success!
Thank you Nabeela and we hope we can join you for a tale around the fire some day soon. We hope you all enjoyed that and see you next week for our final instalment.