Behind ‘A Lilac Mind’ with Bibiane Bisala

In late February, SOON met with Bibiane Bisala- the incredibly talented young woman behind the poetry book ‘A Lilac Mind’, to find out more about her main influencers, her journey as a poet thus far and what her hopes are for the future.


Introduce yourself.
My name is Bibiane Bisala. That’s pronounced bee-bee-anne but most people call me Bibi. I’m eighteen years old and I’m a Virgo who loves to write poetry, take walks and live inside my head. My Instagram is @bibixne and my Tumblr is If you want pretentious playlists for 91 different moods, my Spotify is @iambibiane.

Tell us a little bit about A Lilac Mind… Where did it all begin?
‘A Lilac Mind’ is my first born. It’s an anthology that mainly covers love/heartbreak, infatuation, youth, freedom, the idea of the self and many other realms. I don’t even know how it really begun; all I can say now is that it is a product of inevitability. I’ve always been writing poetry ever since I was young, but the actual sharing of it begun when someone simply asked to read my poetry. Everyone knew I kept seven notebooks locked away but no one had ever really asked to read my stuff; perhaps they knew I would say no because I was and still am to an extent, really private about my writing and innermost thoughts. This person though, at the time, I couldn’t say no to and I guess that’s how the idea of sharing my art form stopped seeming so bad. In terms of the concept, it became really evident to me that everyone around me was trying to fit into a mould, to live their life as one thing and this idea that if you were one thing you couldn’t be the other was also so prominent. That is something I’ve struggled with a lot. I mention in my letter to my readers at the beginning of the book, that ‘A Lilac Mind’ is about embracing the polarities within yourself and accepting who you are unapologetically. The fundamental message: It’s okay to think/feel/be one thing and/or another.

What’s next for Bibiane Bisala? 
Right now I’m focusing on ‘A Lilac Mind’ touching a wider audience but as far as working on something new goes, I am working on new things and I am excited about future projects. I don’t want to give too much away but all I can say about the new project I’m currently working on, whenever it will come out, is that it’s more societal than personal (though still a reflection of me) and will hopefully take my poetry to a very visual level. I also want all my work to be cohesive, so it will have the same underlying vibe as A Lilac Mind but it’ll still hopefully be distinctive on its own.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I’m really flexible when it comes to the environment I cultivate my creativity in. I can literally work anywhere so long as I can get into my mind and concentrate on connecting and interacting with my thoughts and ideas. I’m a chronicle daydreamer so it’s easy to mentally leave a place whilst being physically there. But if I had to choose an ideal working environment, it would probably be in forests, alone with nothing but the trees watching or when I’m home alone, blasting whatever music I’m into at the moment, in front of my computer with notebooks and magazines out; tumblr on my screen. I also work a lot amidst the chaos public transport on my notes page.

Where do you source most of your inspiration from? Are there any artists, poets or even musicians that heavily influence your work?
This is a really cliché answer but I draw inspiration from everything everywhere. Other writers, magazines and music are my main sources. Lana Del Rey’s lyrics and music videos really pushed me towards the vibe I resonated most with; the dark, romantic, slightly disturbing essence surrounding love. If there’s one thing I can say about Lana’s work is that whether it’s just a song or a song paired with a visual, it is so cinematic and it’s literally this beautiful aesthetic experience for whatever senses it’s targeted at. When I was writing ‘A Lilac Mind’ I really wanted to write in such a way that if a director or someone who creates short films wanted to use my words, it would be easy for them because of how vivid my writing is (or how vivid I hope it is). Anything I’ve ever listened to and felt connected to is seen in ‘A Lilac Mind’, it’s a heavily influenced anthology from musicians such as the funeral suits, the 1975, Carla Bruni, SZA, and other obscure indie bands; it’s a product of eclecticism. Other writers such as Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Lang Leav and Pablo Neruda really shaped my character and perhaps the ‘persona’ that surrounds ‘A Lilac Mind’. As far as magazines go, I am a lover of authenticity, fashion and aesthetic and so simply flicking through a cool magazine such as i-D, DAZED AND CONFUSED or the Messy Heads and staring at a picture is enough for me to come up with an entire concept. Everything in ‘A Lilac Mind’ is real whether it is a direct experience presented just the way it was lived, embellished or understated; it’s the truth subjective to one’s mind. Whether you can even call that the truth is questionable… I guess the point of this tangent is that all my sources of inspiration allow me to ‘clothe’ reality the way I want when writing poetry.

To have published a poetry book already is incredibly impressive, what advice would you give to anyone else hoping to self-publish?
Perseverance is the key. It’s the key for any project in life being executed. There will be days when the idea of going through with your project is less sparkly than when you first engaged with it, but you just have stick it out. Whenever you get into that “meh” head space just think about why you embarked on his journey in the first place. Visualise the feeling you’ll get when it’s done; it’s the most rewarding feeling. As far as technical advice goes I would say just watch a lot of YouTube surrounding self publishing, do your research about it, find an indie self publishing company that is legit and gives you a lot of space to keep your original ideas intact. Also if you know anyone who has self published before just ask them for advice.

And Finally, what’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? 
My something out of nothing has to be… There are so many little pleasures in my life that I literally live for. My favourite has to be my journey back home from school when the sun is setting. When I’m travelling alone, I put my headphones in, sit at the front seat of the upper deck of the bus and put my feet up. My bus goes up this hill everyday on the way home and when it reaches the top you get this breathtaking view. The sky is painted with all these bleeding colours and clouds and you can see all these trees and buildings in the horizon, with their lights. It’s literally the most beautiful thing ever. I normally reach a really good bit in my song when the bus stops there for a minute or so and I hold my breath every single time because it’s just this perfect harmony between nature (the sun/sky/clouds/trees) and industrialisation (the buildings and all their lights). I don’t know; it gets me every time. Then the bus goes downhill and the moment ends.


To keep up to date with Bibiane and her poetry, head over and follow her on Instagram / Tumblr . To purchase ‘A Lilac Mind’ find it on Amazon here.


Young and Creative: Beth Harris

For the Young and Creative series, SOON met with illustrator Beth Harris, to discuss her future in children’s books and the process behind the way she works…

Introduce yourself and your work.
My name Is Beth Harris and I’m a 19 year old illustration student currently based in Bristol. I come from a town just outside of Oxford, so at the moment I’m thriving off being immersed in such a creative atmosphere! Although in terms of visual themes my work may vary, the mentality in what I want to say is always the same. I’m enjoying subjects that say something about the world as I have a lot of personal strong views. I find communicating my viewpoints to others, whether they choose to agree or disagree, really exciting, but doing this in a way that is playful and fun is really important to me- the more colour the better! I can feel myself evolving now in the way I work, as I’m still exploring and discovering new ways to visualise my ideas. It’s the best feeling ever finding a new way of working. It’s like you’ve opened your mind to so many more possibilities. It’s a really exciting time in my life!

How long have you been making art?
I’ve always been interested in all things visual and creative, but it wasn’t until my foundation year I really discovered what illustration was and how it’s all that I can imagine myself doing.

Describe your work in 3 words:
Colourful, intricate and evolving.

Describe the way you work in 3 words:
Exploratory, playful and positive.

What’s your favourite colour?
I could never pick just one, so perhaps a combination of pink, teal blue and pastel yellow!

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It entirely depends on the piece. Roughs, exploring and idea generation can often take a long time, but I find I have to churn out my ideas to visualise the colours and feel before it develops into something finished.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I’m someone who loves to get comfortable and cosy in a space, I’ll have all my materials around me so I can see what mood I’m in… basically I make a lot of mess.  Therefore, working at home at my desk or in the studios at uni often works best for me. At the moment there’s a corner desk at uni with big open windows with lots of greenery and natural light that I work well in. I think you’ve got to feel happy in a space to get your best ideas onto paper.

Who inspires what you do?
Francesca Sanna, Laura Carlin, Nina Cosford and Robert Frank Hunter’s books heavily influence my work and Eva Stalinksi really inspired me to get into screen printing! I’ve also recently discovered Mark Conlan, Yukai Du and Molly Egans who use pattern, colour and composition beautifully.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever made?
I think it has to be my children’s book ‘From my Roots’ I made last year reinforcing positive Afro imagery and challenging its under-representation. It was a very personal project, having experienced the stigma towards Afro-Caribbean hair myself. To create the project, I went to my Grandma’s hair salon in Birmingham and interviewed several customers, and so I felt the book was accurate and representational to the issue beyond my own opinion. It was interesting to see how many of my peers had no idea that this was an issue, which was my aim to raise awareness. Perhaps that or my first degree project on slavery. I threw myself in the deep end trying to represent something so horrific in a way that respected the truth but was not too visually dark/ traumatic, but I loved how that turned out.

Where would you like to be with your work in 10 years time?
I would love to have illustrated children’s books on social issues. It’s what I’ve been most passionate about creating in the past so I can see myself pursuing that. I think a lot of what you read and are surrounded by when you are young changes the way you view things as your grow up. A lot of my projects focus around race and feminism as these are things that I can personally relate to, however I would love to hopefully expand these themes to issues not experienced first hand in the hope to educate and inspire kids. However being in the first year of my degree I imagine these aspirations will develop and alternate, which is very exciting!

And finally what’s your favourite ‘Something Out of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
Any funk or soul music.

To see more from Beth, you can follow her over on instagram.

Young and Creative: Ewan Bodenham

As part of the ‘Young and Creative’ Series SOON interviewed Ewan Bodenham, a Science student from London, who spends his free time up-cycling second hand clothing with hand embroidered designs. 


Introduce yourself and your work.
My name is Ewan Bodenham, I’m 20, a Natural Sciences student at UCL and my work consists of hand embroidered designs on clothes. My designs are often natural forms such as plants, but are sometimes more abstract designs. Doing a science degree is great, but I find it doesn’t often give me a chance to think for myself, so embroidery is really a means of being creative and expressing my ideas. It’s also a great way of justifying lazing around, because at least then I’m being productive in some way.

How long have you been making art?
Only since January 2017. I’d never tried doing embroidery before but asked for a few bits to give it a go for Christmas and have been doing it when I find the time to since then. I’ve not had any lessons or watched any videos on how to do it, I just give it a go and see what works and what doesn’t.

Describe your work in three words.
Hit and miss.

Describe the way you work in three words.
The way I work in 3 words… Think, sketch, stitch!

What’s your favourite colour?

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It varies greatly- some pieces take a couple of weeks, others I can start and finish in an evening.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I do embroidery to relax so normally just in my bedroom, listening to music or talking to friends.

Who inspires you?
James Merry. I started embroidery because I wanted one of his pieces but couldn’t afford one, so I tried my hand at making a poor man’s version for myself. Since then I’ve gone on to try out a few of my own ideas, mainly using Instagram for inspiration.

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve ever made?
Probably the first piece I made- the fuchsia growing around the umbra logo. It let me try out a bunch of different techniques and I think it came out looking really nice.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time with your work?
I don’t see it ever being more than something I do for my own enjoyment, but I’d definitely like to see my work get more complex and neat with time.


What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
I love being on a beach. The sound of waves, the feeling of sand and the smell of sea spray all make me really content and appreciative of our planet.