Today we talk about To my wounded Vagina, a book by Lisa Asivile Mpoposhe published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Lisa Asivile Mpoposhe, to get to know her better, where she found the inspiration to write her book To my wounded Vagina, as well as what poetry has mean to her.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Where did you find the inspiration to write this book of poetry?
“Inspiration” is a word that bears too positive a connotation for me to apply it to this instance; I was raped and, if you read the book, you’ll know that it took a while for me to come to terms with it — much less, talk about it. There’s a lot of shame that’s tied to the stigma of victimhood and I allowed that shame to force me to keep my head buried for a long time. I wish I didn’t know what it was like to need to rid myself of the thoughts I shared in this book but I was drowning in melancholy and suicidal ideation. As a writer, I tried to escape by creating worlds that could distract me from my reality but the pain was inescapable. I got to a point where I hated everything I created because I knew it was coming from a dishonest place. That’s when I decided that I had to choose between the pen and the sword — I either rid myself of the pain by ending my life or unburden myself of it by telling the truth.
- What would you like to hear from your readers?
Firstly, I’d like to hear to hear that they believe me. I suffered in silence for a long time out of fear that no one would. This is the only project I’ve worked on, since the assault occurred, that came from an honest place and I hope people feel the truthfulness of each piece and believe me. Secondly, I’d like to hear that they were moved. Either to the point of understanding and empathising with the reality of other victims or, if they relate to my experience, to the point of speaking about or coming to terms with their own experiences. My aim in having these thoughts published was to strip myself (and other victims) of the shame. I didn’t deserve to be raped; no one does. It doesn’t matter how you dress, how you speak or if you obey all the societal rules that are meant to shield you from it: if a person wants to rape you they’ll do whatever they can to make sure they get the chance to.
- What did it mean for you to talk about your suffering through poetry?
I always believed that my debut into the writing world would be through a work of fiction because I normally write novels and short stories. I could’ve chosen those mediums to tell my story but I chose the medium of poetry because I didn’t want to feel like I was escaping. It mattered for people to know that each word comes from me and not some character I created for their consumption. Using poetry enabled me to feel like I was telling the story in a way that walks the readers through each step of my healing journey with me. I felt like an actor who, instead of following the script, chose to break the fourth wall. That meant fully immersing myself into thoughts that weren’t always pleasant but I was able to unburden myself of so much pain. It took a lot of strength to put some of these thoughts on paper because, at the time that I was writing them, I hadn’t spoken to anyone about my experience but it also made it that much easier for me to talk about it because I understood myself much better. All the fears I had about what would happen if I told anyone about what happened melted away because I had supported myself enough through writing all these poems.
- How was your publishing experience?
It wasn’t, at all, how I imagined it would be. So much was out of my control and that felt disempowering, especially if you consider the fact that this book is about regaining control and being in charge of my own narrative. I am glad to have worked with a company that took each of my concerns seriously and enabled me to bring my vision to life but I didn’t enjoy the anxiety that came with trusting other people to tell your story for you.
- Are you working on a new writing project?
I’m working on a couple of writing projects which brings me a lot of joy because there was a time when I felt like I’d never be able to write anything “good” ever again. There’s a part of you that dies when you’re raped: the part of you that never imagined you’d ever go through anything like this and, as you accept that you have, it’s important to grieve that side of you. I’ve never seen a rapist suffer for having committed that crime but society makes sure that rape victims do. Across all races, cultures and beliefs there is the constant trend of victims being blamed and forced to feel shame regardless of the circumstances surrounding the rape (even though there isn’t a circumstance that will ever justify it). We’re made to feel like we weren’t being “good” and therefore deserved to have something bad happen to us. Writing this book has freed me from the mental prison the rape forced me into and I can’t wait to share everything I’ve been working on with the world.
Europe Books thanks the author Lisa Asivile Mpoposhe once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book To my wounded Vagina. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish that this book will allow you to connect with the author and to understand her strong pain from which, thanks also to the writing of her poems, she is trying to free herself from, so as not to feel ashamed anymore. I hope that this book is a source of reflection for all the people who have suffered violence and that it could give them the courage to speak up and finally be able to free themselves from this weight that they carry in their hearts and souls.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy this very touching and moving reading!