Writers Space Africa-Rwanda
In Conversation

Explore Lise Nova’s Debut Chapbook, ‘East of Faith, West of Fear’

Lise Nova Berwadushime is a Rwandan writer of poems and children’s stories. She serves as a children’s literature editor for WSA Magazine and mentors writers interested in this genre at Writers Space Africa’s Creative Academy. Additionally, she holds the role of a poetry and creative non-fiction editor for Umukarago.

The author of ‘East of Faith, West of Fear’, a poetry collection released in May 2023, Lise is also a biochemist and translator. Alongside her professional pursuits, she finds joy in listening to good music and watching cooking videos.

Joining her in this dialogue is Rwandan screenwriter and poetess, Gentille Constance Kampire.

Gentille: Thank you so much Lise for joining me today. I truly appreciate it. I read your collection and it is quite interesting. Could you start by telling us more about the title of your collection?

Lise: Thank you Gentille. That’s a great question! The title hit me hard, and I was convinced it was perfect for my debut collection. The sun typically rises in the East and sets in the West. Similarly, my hope and faith rise with the sun, while my fears and worries set with it. I discover new meanings within the title every day when I ponder. I would say it’s also closely tied to the boldness I summoned to self-publishing my collection.

Gentille: What a great explanation! Personally speaking, I was moved by the title. I really wanted to know the meaning behind it, and now, my curiosity is gone.

Lise: Oh! Really? That’s good to hear.

READ: East of Faith, West of Fear by Lise Nova – A Review by Sandra Nadege

Gentille: So, what inspired you to put this collection together?

Lise: As I mention in the introduction of the book, many things inspired me. I was driven by love, humour, and sorrow – life, if I may say so. I compiled all those poems together, and boom, the collection was born.

Gentille: Wow! I can witness that. Some of the poems contain humour while others let one explore the art of love. This leads me to my next question. How long did it take you to gather these poems? Could you share with us your creative process?

Lise: I can’t remember precisely, but I’d say it took the entire year of 2022. It was easier to write because almost all the poems were born from my own emotions. Writing them down felt like expressing myself, making the process easy.

Gentille: But was it that easy? Did you write them during the day or at night?

Lise: I am telling you that it was easy (laughs). Most of them were written in the evening. I find it easier to write when everything is silent, although I have to admit that some were written in the morning while traveling on a bus to work. Lol! (Laughs)

Lise Nova Berwadushime with a copy of her chapbook.

Gentille: I have heard many poets say that they get inspiration while traveling. I think that is quite relatable. So, Lise, what is your favourite poem in this collection, and why?

Lise: Oh my goodness! This is a tough one! (laughs). Well, nearly all of my poems are my favourites. But if I had to pick the top four, I’d mention My Fortune, Stranger, Play Me Like a Violin, and This I Promise You My Soul. I love them because they encapsulate almost all of my personality traits. My Fortune is mysterious, and its meaning still eludes me to this day! Stranger revisits my past and expresses my quiet, introverted self. Play Me Like a Violin showcases how mischievous and romantic I can be at times, while This I Promise You My Soul reveals my strength and how I console myself, thus reflecting my optimism.

Gentille: That is amazing! Play me like a violin is my favourite if you didn’t know (laughs). So, how do you expect readers to feel after reading this collection? What kind of comments are you anticipating?

Lise: Hahaha! I hope they find my pieces relatable. Some people who read my book provided me with different comments, letting me know which pieces they liked. I’m glad they enjoyed reading my book. I hope they get turned on by my erotic pieces, though! (laughs)

Gentille: No way! I hope people will learn more from your creative mind. Apart from this collection, do you have other books already published or in the pipeline?

Lise: Yes, I do have many unpublished works, but I have not thought about publishing them yet. I am waiting for the perfect moment.

Gentille: I too cannot wait. (laughs). Apart from poetry, is there any other genre that you explore?

Lise: Thank you. I am interested in children’s literature and drama.

Gentille: I love drama. I will be happy to see you publishing a drama book.

Lise: I will let you know.

READ: Keys, Winds and Strings: My Love Story with Classical Music – Lise Nova Berwadushime

Gentille: Is there any poet or writer who influenced your work? If yes, how?

Lise: No! Nobody influenced my work, but I did receive encouragement and support from my fellow poets and writers.

Gentille: Sounds great! As we wrap up this conversation, please share your journey towards publishing your collection and offer a piece of advice to writers who are afraid of taking the plunge.

Lise: My journey was more hectic than I can express! It gave me pain in the neck, but in the end, I realised that it was worth taking. When I hold my book, I feel like a mother holding her newborn, and sometimes I do what most people know as crying. My advice to those who are afraid is this: go for it, darling. I would rather say, “I was afraid, but I did it” instead of “fear crippled me.”

Gentille: Wow! That is impressive! Thank you for this brilliant advice. I sincerely want to express my gratitude for your time and for this conversation. It was great to have you.

Lise: I truly appreciate it, Gentille. Thanks a lot!

To order a copy of ‘East of Faith, West of Fear,’ you can contact Lise Nova directly at +250728062599.

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