Member Feature - Jamal Rafat
We were introduced to Jamal late last year when she did a live poetry reading with Wattney. Not only did her words hold a special place in all our hearts but so did her spirit and contagious smile. She always wrote from time to time but decided to take poetry seriously in spring of 2020. Which eventually lead her to create and self publish her first poetry book titled "It's Past Midnight Somewhere" which we highly recommend adding to your poetry collection. Here is our interview with her.
When did you start writing poetry?
I wrote my first poem in a post-graduate class for a poetry competition that I eventually won. That was in the early 2000s. That's when I knew I had away with words. Then a couple of decades passed. I wrote in prose and poetic form, from time to time but never took it seriously until the spring of 2020. I started to participate in poetry prompts and challenges on Instagram, WordPress and www.allpoetry.com
To my surprise, I started to win them too. They were met with a lot of appreciation and praise across the board.
Why did you decide to start sharing your words on Instagram?
I had a page on Instagram since 2016 but it was mainly for hobbies like sewing, crafting and creating wellness products for myself. I changed it to a writing page in June 2020 and rebranded as The Crafted Writer. That was also the time when the world was a very confusing and scary place. Black Lives Matter gave me the awareness to identify my own stereotypes around colourism. I started to recognize and embrace my identity as person of colour. In order to amplify BIPOC voices, I needed to tell my story.
My most vulnerable posts were most appreciated and liked. This empowered me to write more and be vulnerable more.
You published a poetry book called “It’s Past Midnight Somewhere”. Can you tell us what it’s about and what inspired you to write it?
The book is about revisiting pain, reclaiming heritage and finding bliss in solitude.
Four themes in the book take you through where I have been, where I come from, where I am now and where I am going. You're taken on an emotional journey that’s both fantastical and relatable.
I wrote it because I had so much to say.
I wrote it because I wanted to create a community of like-minded individuals around me.
....because I wanted to help others heal from experiences of failure, fear and hurt.
What platform did you use to self publish and would you recommend it to others?
I used Amazon KDP and self-taught myself the process to self-publish, an area I knew nothing about at the beginning.
But I will say it takes commitment and research. Poet Possibilities is a great platform to get started on it so you are not alone in it. My only regret is I didn't find it earlier.
We noticed you also enjoy painting. Is this a hobby or something you do professionally?
After finishing my manuscript in August 2020, I needed another hobby. I was looking for something that is relaxing and still utilizes my creativity so I started learning basic watercolouring. I enjoyed it so much that I started making my own bookmarks that I now offer my readers when they buy a signed copy directly from me. I hope to be able to start an Etsy shop in spring 2021, to sell bookmarks and prints from my book.
What advice would you give to a poet just starting out on Instagram?
- Consistency and authenticity pays off.
- Hang in there.
- Read other's work.
- Write your own.
- And engage with other poets on IG. There is a beautiful community out there to support you, which I didn't know existed before I started writing.
Where can others find you and where can we order your book?
Follow me on:
You can buy my book "it's past midnight somewhere" on