Esther Nunoo: Inspiration in Words

Known across campus for her powerful poetry performances, Esther Nunoo’s vivid words and passionate delivery have rightly made her a notable member of the class of 2017.  Her Campus sits down with Esther to learn more about how she got her start in poetry, her writing process, and what’s special about NYC!

HC: What's your full name?EN: "Esther Naa Ahema Nunoo."

HC: What year are you at Bowdoin?EN: "2017."

HC: Where are you from?EN: "Accra, Ghana and the Bronx, NYC."

HC: What are you studying at Bowdoin?EN: "I'm an anthropology major."

HC: You're famous for your powerful poetry performances. How did you start writing poems?EN: "I wrote dopey poems as a kid. In eighth grade I was crazy about Eminem, and then I got into underground rappers, and I would have rap battles with my friends at lunch. And then in ninth grade, a friend joined this social activist group and got me into it and that’s when I started writing spoken word poetry."

HC: What exactly is Slam Poetry, and what made you decide to join? EN: "I’m not exactly sure what the definition is, but through my experience I’ve noticed that Slam tends to be like Brave New Voices, or Urban Word, where spoken word is like the cafe/coffee house type performance. Not sure if that’s the actual difference, though!"

HC: What inspires you to write poetry? What gets you going?EN: "Almost anything. Sometimes I’ll see someone who catches my attention. Sometimes a really good movie or some songs, instrumentals. Almost anything."

HC: What’s your writing process like?EN: "So the last poem I wrote [when] I was really frustrated and I couldn’t focus on my (school)work for a few days. I was listening to music and venting, and it was supposed to be like a….not a journal entry, but an email to myself. And I started venting in stanzas, and it became a poem. Other times I’ll wake up and have a brilliant idea from a dream or something, although not always a dream. I write a lot at 2am, 3am for some reason."

HC: You said you’re from both Ghana and NYC. Can you tell us a little more about that?EN: "So, I came here when I was five. And a lot of people say, “Well, then you’re American now, right? You’re a citizen now.” Yes, I am a citizen, but I still speak the two languages, and once I get into my home, I’m not in America anymore. We eat Ghanian food, I go to a Ghanian Church. I have American clothes but I have traditional clothes, too. [Ghana] is still home to me. It’s far but still close to me."

HC: So you think of yourself both as Ghanian and as a New Yorker at the same time?EN: "Yes! Yes. That’s like the oomph of being a New Yorker – you can be both!"

HC: In addition to slam poetry, what else do you do on campus?EN: "I’m a proctor. I’m on Res Life [staff]. I was trained to be part of the Inter-Group Dialogue. I’m still kind of finding my footing. I work in the Women’s Resource Center. And I work for Student Activities."

HC: Finally, what's a fun fact about you?EN: "I’m missing a knuckle on my right ring finger."