Leilah Ali speaks life into an image. With her words, people feel her pain, her love, and spirit. Out now is her first book of poetry titled hush now, love can be purchased on Amazon.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hello! My name is Leilah Ali. I'm a twenty-two year old poet, made up of shadows, angst, and cheese pizza.
When did you start writing poetry?
My occupation, my entire being, is that of a storyteller. I've been writing my entire life, but really began to delve into the medium of poetry at the age of nineteen, when I discovered that this genre really described my nearly indescribable thoughts and emotions.
Why is the Instagram platform working for you? What do you like about it?
The IG platform allows me to directly interact with people of all ages, and engage daily on a personal basis. I adore the fact that I can post things multiple times a day, and people care for it significantly. It's a creative outlet on its own--this curating of art in a forum normally designated for leisurely usage. Instagram allows for a bigger market of consumers, i.e more people to touch, to move, to get to know. That's the most important part: the fact that these poems relate so profoundly to specific individuals, and they can tell me immediately.
Are there any personal stories from the poems you've written?
All my poems are personal. I tend to be unable to write something unless I'm inextricably aware of what it means and how it feels. One line really stands out to me, since it single-handedly brought my poetry to new heights: "if you're looking for a sign that I'm still alive--this isn't it." I put this down in my journal during a time where incessant emptiness plagued me like a disease. It was an abyss of a thing, that inhibited every aspect of my life... I did not feel like I was living and thriving. Fortunately, that time has passed, and instead of the line bearing a negative connotation, it reminds me of how much I have gained and learned about myself, and about life.
Have you ever performed your poetry?
Performing poetry opens up a whole new world. I haven't delved too much into it, but I have performed a couple times. The connection between the poet and the audience is immediately amplified without the separation of the page. It's intimate and raw, and I can't wait to do it more.
Who are some of your influences as a poet?
Nayyirah Waheed (author of "Salt") is currently my muse because her exploration of form is unparalleled. Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson have had my heart from a young age, also, a lot of my peers on Instagram influence me daily. The wealth of talent out there astounds me constantly. Humbles me. Literature is also a big influence. I learned to read before I could walk (or at least it feels that way). Maggie Stiefvater is my favorite author on the face of this planet; she instills magic in her prose.
What do you love about writing in the poetry medium?
POETRY. What do I love about it? Everything! The possibilities are literally endless, for form, for technique, in choices. It allows expression in the inexpressible, magic in the mundane, insight into the obscurity of life. I get to (both) question and answer what it means to be human.
If you were stuck on an abandoned island what five items would you want with you?
All the books (totally count as one thing), my dog, paper, a messenger pigeon (to send letters), and a pen.
What do you love more coffee or chocolate?
Chocolate. It's an addiction. Give me a Molten Chocolate Cake over coffee any day. It's the key to my heart.
If you could have a super power what would it be?
THIS IS SO HARD TO ANSWER. I'll be a smart ass and say, the power to cast spells because that means I can do anything (insert evil laugh here).