Five Questions with MFA student Klara Kalu

Five Questions with MFA student Klara Kalu

Klara Kalu may be best known as a Nigerian model and social media influencer. As Ifedioku, she’s earned more than half a million followers on Instagram, where she shares fashion and lifestyle images. But Kalu is also a writer, and in her continuing pursuit of that career, she joined the Mason Creative Writing Program in Fall 2023 as an MFA Fiction Candidate.

At Mason, in partnership with the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, Kalu has started the column Blurring Borders, where she writes essays and stories about navigating the complexities of migration. The first essay in the series, Stages of Grief, details Kalu’s emotional journey in migrating to the United States. The second, What Start Bad a Mornin’ May End Good Come Evening, was inspired by an interview Kalu did with author Carol Mitchell.

Kalu shared some insights about her journey as a writer, an influencer, and a Mason MFA student.

 

What drew you to Mason’s Creative Writing program?

Kalu: I was drawn to Mason's Creative Writing program primarily because of its reputation for fostering a vibrant and supportive community for aspiring writers. The program's emphasis on both craft and experimentation appealed to me, as I was eager to explore diverse writing styles and genres in a collaborative environment. I was also drawn to organizations such as Fall for the Book and the Cheuse Center because of the inclusive nature of their events to showcase a wide and diverse range of writers/creatives. I love being able to see the world through others. Additionally, I was impressed by the faculty's expertise and their commitment to helping students develop their craft.

 

What were you writing before Mason? What are you currently working on now, in the program?

Before Mason, I primarily focused on short fiction. Since joining the program, I've had the opportunity to explore other forms such as creative nonfiction and poetry. I've always had a passion for storytelling, and Mason's program provided me with the opportunity to refine my skills and expand my literary horizons. Currently, I'm working on a novel that explore themes of identity and belonging, inspired by my experiences within the program.

 

What work do you do as a Graduate Professional Assistant?

As a GPA, I support the Cheuse Center for International Writers in various administrative and media tasks related to the organization. This includes assisting with event planning, managing communication/media channels, interviewing writers, moderating panels, and providing general support wherever I am need. I also manage a column on the Cheuse Center website where I write personal essays inspired by my experiences as an international writer [mentioned above].

 

You have a pretty large presence on Instagram. How did you get so savvy with social media?

My proficiency with social media developed organically over time. I initially used platforms like Instagram as a creative outlet to share snippets of my writing, photography, or art in general and connect with fellow creatives. Through experimentation and engagement with online communities, I've learned to leverage social media effectively to promote my work and engage with a broader audience.

 

What’s the last great book that you read—and what made it great in your opinion?

The last great book I read was Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I find Ishiguro’s prose to be masterful and I am a great fan of his work. The main character in the book, Klara (who also bears my name), an artificial friend, is brilliantly crafted. Through her “innocent” perspective, Ishiguro provides a unique lens through which to examine human behavior and emotions. Also, Ishiguro's ability to create a compelling dystopian world adds another layer of depth to the story, the telling is very vivid and I would love to see the book adapted into a movie. The novel raises important questions about the ethical implications of technological advancement and the potential consequences for society.

 

What do you do for fun in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoy exploring the vibrant arts and culture scene in the DMV area. Whether it's attending literary events, visiting art galleries, or simply exploring the outdoors, I find inspiration in the diverse experiences that George Mason University and its surrounding community have to offer.