For Mansa Trotman, creating poetry is something that she’s driven to do, a fiery compulsion that speaks to the true goal of art: to evoke emotion in the intended recipient. With the Toronto-based poet’s recently released “The Space That Connects Us” (TSAR Books), consider it mission accomplished. The collection of poems hit flush with emotional impact — tales of love, lust and the emotional throughlines in-between.
The URBAN/intersection connected with the poet and author to get her thoughts on creating the work and why for her, writing is something that she’s driven to do. Coming from a distinct and vibrant African-Canadian perspective, Trotman no doubt conveys an intimate point of view that speaks to the universal.
Why create “The Space That Connects Us?” What’s the backstory behind creating the book?
I have been writing for years and have had some of my work included in anthologies. In 2008 I self-published a small collection of poems. My mother suggested I send those poems along with the rest of my manuscript to a publisher, TSAR. I was so excited when it was accepted.
Why do you write? What themes do you like to touch on in your work?
I write because I have no choice. Words sometimes haunt me until they are put on paper; I write mostly to exorcise those words. A lot of this work is about heartache and getting through [it] and over [it].
What’s the creative process like? How do you begin a poem?
Usually I can hear the beginnings of a poem and I will work it out in my head before I put it on paper. Then I’ll go back to it a few times, adding or subtracting.
What are you reading right now?
I’m about to go on vacation and the book I bought to read is called The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they?
I don’t have a group and I would love to join a workshop to hear other poets and get feedback. Usually after I’ve written a poem I send it to my friends Max and Jemeni and to my mother, who is also a writer, for feedback.
How does race and gender inform your work?
In the space that connects us, I speak from the lived experience of a young black woman navigating relationships and intimacy in an urban reality.
What are your thoughts on the poetry scene in Canada?
I love that people are writing from their heart and continue to share their voice with others, ignoring any gatekeepers there may be out there.
What advice would you offer emerging poets looking to create a debut body of work?
Just write. Creativity is stifled when you’re thinking about the debut instead of the words.
According to you, what is the state of poetry today? Is poetry flourishing or dying? How do you define success for this project and your career in general?
It’s flourishing in my world! Success for me means people are able to read my words.