Thandokuhle Mngqibisa is a passionate writer, poet, performer, an activist and a medical doctor. She is not one to shy away from voicing her opinion about issues that she cares about. She’ll speak up for fellow human beings that are abused and are going through horrible experiences. Thandokuhle doesn’t write poetry for writing’s sake. Her work heals, it touches, and it brings joy and comfort. She produces “literary gems”.
Did you always want to become a writer?
No. I always wanted to become a doctor. I discovered writing late in high school. I had an amazing English teacher who WANTED us to enjoy her subject. It was around the same time that I started doing drama and debating as extramural activities. Language & music became the centre of every spare moment.
How did you get interested in writing poetry in particular?
I only discovered my love for poetry in 2005 when I watched members of the future T.O…T! (Tower of Thought) collective perform. I went home that night and wrote my first real poem. The act of manipulating language to create beauty, even if it’s an unpleasant beauty; it makes me feel happy.
What are some of the challenges you faced to get your book published?
I decided to go the self-publishing route without investigating publishers. The major challenges are money and time. I work full-time in a non-artistic field so finding time to switch the mindset from prescribed science to creativity is a big challenge. Finding a designer (and paying him) was a big challenge too. Choosing paper type, quality, thickness, colour and choosing the type of cover; you learn so much from getting it all wrong. Reading and re-reading the poems; editing and trusting the poems are some of the smaller challenges.
How much of your work reflect your life?
Most of my work reflects my life. Some of it isn’t written about my personal experience. I observe, empathize and write about what I feel emotionally close to.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write every day. Love your work. Don’t write for audiences yet. Don’t let yourself be bullied by ANYONE; not even those you admire as artists. You know yourself. Hear advice. Don’t use it unless it fits in with your process and journey. Don’t lose yourself in a sub-culture. Again, love your work.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
What are you working on now?
I’m working on stage poems for various theatre-style projects. But, mostly, just writing from inspiration – when and where it comes. I have been involved in a festival as a performer and judge, these are continuing projects. Also, of course, making plans for activism projects using poetry for 16 days of activism and V-Day next year.
If you were to write a book about your life what would the title be?
I have NO idea. That’s just too much pressure. But it would, most likely, be something rude and unladylike. *Laughs*