A Writing Life: Jumoke Verissimo

I am afraid of heights, climbing hills, moving up narrow ladders or sometimes climbing spindly stairways with rusty uprooted banisters.

My heart is in a state of flurry, I can hear footsteps  and voices rushing into my head, asking me why I move like one leaping, driven by thoughts racing to hurry out of my head.

All I can think of is, how difficult it is to be observant. If you cannot stop to stare.

There is a sense that the world has stopped when you feel you can no longer write. I cannot remember when I began to feel the world was closing up on me – feeling it in a way words do not capture. As the world draws closer, I find it more difficult to scream STOP. My conversations floats with the skies when I look up, because the words that should drive them are leaving me to find other spaces. You are facing the waters and you know you cannot swim. There’s a pessimistic voice in my head that says this all the time.

One morning, you step into the waters, you walk deeper in, feeling the wetness rise above your feet, the rhythm is not just twiddling your legs, you can feel the wetness on your ankle, you keep moving, for this time, after a long time, you can tell that you have decided to jump in.

I follow Ernest Hemingway’s advice. I sit at my computer, I write something—If my eyes could speak… —on a page, hold the pain that comes as I ‘bleed’. There’s something that says I can write again. This voice talks in whispers. Slow and quiet whispers into my soul. Write something…write anything…write us…


Image Credit: Victor Ehikhamenor

Jumoke Verissimo

Jumoke Verissimo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of two poetry collections, I Am Memory (Dada Books) and The Birth of Illusion (Fullpoint). Jumoke is currently in the final stages of discussion with the Cassava Republic for her first novel. Some of her poems are in translation in Norwegian, Japanese, Italian, French and Macedonian.

Saraba is a literary magazine focused on the work of new writers in Nigeria and other parts of the African continent. Since 2009, we have published several issues of a magazine, editions of poetry chapbooks, and online-only work.
Our ongoing Manuscript Project supports the publication of long-form fiction and nonfiction by ten new Nigerian writers.
Registered as a non-profit in Nigeria, we depend on the support of readers like you to publish new writing. Please donate.