Percy grew up in a rural community near Durban, South Africa—a very different place from his home in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. He has overcome significant challenges, motivating him to use his love of writing to help others rise above their struggles.
Why do you write poetry?
When I was at high school I went through so many challenges. My dad passed away when I was 16 and I had to get a part-time job to help my mum with food and school fees as he didn’t leave us with any money. I realised that life sometimes presents you with challenges that you never asked for and school doesn’t prepare you for.
I wanted to write for young adults who had it tough, just like me, to let them know that regardless of the challenges they face, they can still be the best version of themselves.
Writing saved my life. When I am challenged I pray and ask God for solutions. When he speaks to me, I listen and then start writing. He often speaks to me through my own writing, and I know he speaks to others through my poems too.
How did your African upbringing influence your writing?
Writing has given me a platform to share with the world great things about Africa like our music, stories, dance and food. There are so many things people might not know about Africa, like that we share with others the little that we have. Africans are generous because for us the wellbeing of another person is more important than owning material things.
When I was at school another student in my class had no shoes, no food and no friends. I talked to him and found out he didn’t forget to wear his shoes, he didn’t have them at all. So I gave him all my lunch money. I just couldn’t swallow my food while there was someone like that in my school.
Growing up in Africa taught me many things, like the importance of looking after each other. I like to share some stories and lessons from Africa in my writing.
How did you go about writing your books?
It wasn’t easy, there was no author in my community and I’d never met another writer. So I had to learn about the writing and publishing process through research.
I started a blog where people can access free poems to change, challenge and cheer them up. Through my blog I developed my fan base.
I compiled my favourite poems and published I Am Sold in 2012. In 2016 I published Wings of an Eagle. I was working full-time while I wrote it so I used to wake up at 4 am every day to write. Both books are self published.
When you’re not writing, what do you do?
I work as a real estate agent in an eastern Melbourne suburb. I also play the piano and sing and I love spending time with my two daughters and taking them to the park.
What challenges have you faced in starting a new life in Australia, since moving here in 2013?
It wasn’t easy to leave my family behind and I miss them dearly. I’m grateful that I can call and Skype with them. I knew that to survive in Australia, music and poetry needed to play a key role in my life. I miss the music, dance, food and conversations that take place in South Africa. In Melbourne I see lots of people wearing headphones and looking at their iPhones. In Durban that was never the case; people you took public transport with automatically became your friends.
What’s your next project?
My third book is a children’s book inspired by my two beautiful daughters. It’s about culture and finding identity in a way that kids can understand.
To read more about Percy visit www.percyspoems.com