BY THE BOOK: My writing began with an apology letter in high school

Tuesday August 13 2019

Besides being a student and businessman, 26-year-old David Ikanyi is also a published writer. He talks to on more about his book, A Thief of Sanity.

Tell us more about yourself.

I come from Mpeketoni, Lamu. I own a supplies company called Nyimason Investments which is based in Lamu. I am also into forex trading and freelance writing.

If I say I am single, I know of someone who won’t like the sound of it but if I say I am in a relationship, I will be lying to myself. (Laughs). I am currently at the University of Nairobi studying MA in Economics.

Tell us about your book.

A Thief of Sanity is a poetry anthology consisting of 50 poems that I wrote between my second and fourth years of undergraduate studies at the Kenyatta University.


The themes are mainly: love, religion, philosophy of life and a little bit of politics. It was published by Contact Zones Publishers last year December.

As a child, what did you want to do growing up?

I kept changing goal posts. At one time I wanted to a lawyer, then I realized lawyers are a greedy bunch, so I decided to be a banker, after which I realised bankers have no social life.

I even thought of being a pastor by the way. Now? I just want to sit at the close of silence and watch the world at a safe distance.

When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?

When I was asked to write an apology letter in Form 3 by my high school captain for noise-making. I deliberately threw in lots of vocabulary that he didn’t understand a word in the letter.

So, he let me off the hook and told me to consider writing a novel. Interestingly, I took his advice and a year later was named the best writer in the school.

What challenges did you face while writing?

Sometimes I experienced writer’s block. Sometimes, it would persist for almost six months that I renamed it a writer’s wall.

Also, writing involves spending a lot of time with oneself and as such, people thought I was introverted. I am not even sure I am not. (Laughs).

What’s one thing you learned when writing your book?

That you have to be patient. Every passing day, you’ll have to look at your work in different eyes and the funny part is that you’ll never be fully satisfied even when it is at the printing stage.

Where do you get ideas to write?

Mostly from my surroundings and the experiences I have. I keep a diary in which I record all my sentiments concerning various issues in my life.

What hopes do you have with the book?

I hope as many people as possible get to read it and if somewhere along the way I get to inspire them by the ideas or art therein, I will have accomplished my purpose for publishing this book.

Do you get feedback from your readers? What do they say?

Yes. Many of them are really intrigued by the style and themes of my poetry, especially the theme of religion.

A reader once asked, ‘so what is your position on the matter of religion or love in poems such as Chocolate House or?’ because I describe the positive and the negative without stating my position.

What would you say makes a good poem?

Poetry is a matter of word choice and intellect in manner of expression. A good poem also involves proper use imagery or figurative language, brevity – while still capturing your intended message and avoidance too much linguistic gymnastics.

What do you like doing when you’re not writing?

I am a big fan of movie series. "The Originals" in particular, due to the poetic (Shakespearian) language they use.

am a big fan of movie series. "The Originals" in particular, due to the poetic (Shakespearian) language they use.

Do you plan on writing anything new soon?

Do you plan on writing anything new soon?

I will write one more book. Prose, this time, but not so soon.