Striving to Understand the Beauty in Struggle: Last Poet Interview of April 2021

For STRIVE author, Nigel Walker, everything is coming up roses. In between community service, raising four daughters, and serving as assistant principal at a Georgia high school, he still manages to blossom. Especially creatively.

His motivational guide about striving for greatness in the face of adversity features quite a bit of poetry, and we at Swallow Books decided to end our National Poetry Month interviews, saving the best for last.

In one of the more gut wrenching pages from STRIVE, the poem ‘Cinderblock Memories’ evokes an image of beauty in struggle.

Nigel said ‘I rise like a rose in concrete’ in that poem’s first stanza, is a nod to the late rapper Tupac Shakur. 

Inspired by Tupac, Nigel thinks their shared matter-of-fact stance on politics, project life, and even romance inspired a more direct approach to his own writing.

“A revered object of admiration can grow from seemingly impenetrable and unforgiving matter,” Nigel explains. 

He added the real meat and heart of STRIVE is pushing past our hardest and most humiliating moments to achieve our biggest goals; and it doesn’t hurt how much louder and clearer he sounds in poetry or song lyrics.

“There are hidden messages throughout my works, some of which I may take to the grave, but it’s my way of being out-spoken,” he said. 

Nigel also believes poetry, or simply expressing oneself through any form of creative writing, is mutually beneficial to both author and reader — that if writing isn’t a solution to a moral dilemma, maybe it is, at a minimum, the simple gift of tolerance.

“Tolerance can be the beginning of opening one’s mind to listen and accept other perspectives,” said Nigel.

To gain both empathy and perspective on what it’s like to be young, Black, and of the mind education is our great equalizer, purchase a copy of ‘STRIVE’ today. ‘Cinderblock Memories’ appears after page 59.

Stay tuned for book tour dates and public appearances by this young, prolific author.

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