Writer Notes: Robalu Gibsun


I began to write around 2001, when I was 11, about the time Jay-Z’s The Blueprint came out. Jay-Z’s storytelling inspired me to want to write my own raps. Of course, they were all braggadocious, violent, misogynistic and wack; all filled with the ignorance and innocence of a young writer veering into adolescence. Fast forward to middle school. When I was 13 years old, with the help of my mom, I made a book of poems during the Poetry Section of English class. On presentation day, after I read my book, my peers told me that I read really well and my work was really good. The standout poems were: one about going to the mall with friends, and another about riding down I-95 with my parents to visit my dad’s side of the family in Columbia, South Carolina. Mix that experience with my discovery of HBO Def Poetry Jam and you have the combined origins of me as a writer and a spoken word artist.

I’d describe my writing as vibrant and rhythmic. Poetic Non-fiction. I’m currently obsessed with the idea of words being slaves to poets and writers, thus, instead of being Slave Masters we are “Page Masters”.

Right now, I’m really into reading flash fiction. I’ve always been fascinated and impressed when writers manipulate time and sum whole lives in a small amount of words. To add, I’m a sucker for story with a crisply written scene. Brevity Magazine gives me my fix. In regards to books, the great Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” influenced me to storytell with fresh word combinations. The history of the book altered my views on success as a young writer. He got it published when he was 19. Nineteen! It’s always inspiration because this broke my perception that you had to be old and weathered to get work published.

With the help of VCU’s Amendment Literary Arts Journal, I am releasing a poetry chapbook titled “of a sunken relationship”. It’s me carrying on Neruda’s tradition and publishing love poems I wrote when I was 19. Nineteen! It should be out by the end of this semester, so be on the lookout. After I graduate in May, I plan doing a college poetry tour with all of the performance pieces I’ve cultivated in the past 4 ½ years. It’s my time, right now. In the words of Jay-Z, I quote: “The takeover—the break’s over.”

Robalu’s work is featured in this year’s journal. 

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