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Meet Ibi Zoboi, author of A is for Ayiti

Today, we feature writer Ibi Zoboi, author of A is for Ayiti. This scholar and storyteller devotes her writing life to “digging for [the] truths” of her ancestors.

OMB: When did you realize that you wanted to write for a living? Ibi: When my professors started taking an interest in my work. One professor paid for me to go to the YariYari Conference, a groundbreaking conference at NYU back in 1997 featuring women writers of African descent from all over the world. There were all these women who had stories to tell, they wrote books, this was their job, and they had readers and fans. I wanted to be one of them. OMB: If you weren’t a writer, what other career would you aspire to? Ibi: A professional storyteller. If there were no books, I’d still be telling stories. OMB: Describe your creative process. Ibi: Pure insanity. I have three children. I write while I’m cooking, while they’re eating, while they’re sleeping, while I’m sleeping. I daydream all the time and carry around sticky notes. I’ve developed the habit of sitting down and jumping right into the thick of my story. But revision is a much slower internal process. Grad school helps a lot because I now am developing my craft so I know what to look for when shaping stories and words for children. Writing is sketching, rewriting is where the sculpting happens, the true process begins. This I do all day, no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

OMB: Who inspires you the most? Ibi: My mother. She doesn’t tell stories, she keeps secrets. My writing life is devoted to digging for her truth, and the truths of her mothers before her. And this involves writing about Haiti.

Check out Ibi’s book A is for Ayiti and other titles at the launch of our Haiti series this Saturday, January 26th. Tickets to our event, featuring artwork, music and literature are available here:

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