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Mentorship May Stifle The Voices Of Young Poets – Efe Paul

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Mentorship May Stifle  The Voices Of Young Poets

Welcome to today’s show!! Our guest on today’s episode of SyncityNG’s Literary Lords and Ladies is EFE PAUL AZINO, a prolific performance poet and director of Lagos International Poetry Festival

Last week, we had NEBEOLISA OKWUDILLI on the show. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

In today’s interview, EFE discusses with us his journey into the world of poetry, the reception of his poem on the recently concluded Big Brother Naija amongst other things:


Nice to have you here, Efe! Say hi.

Thanks for having me.


Let’s get down to it.
Efe, you are one of the recognised Lords of poetry in Nigeria. How did the journey to poetry begin?

It began with reading, with allowing other voices in my head and having them call out to me from an early age. I have been writing and performing for over ten years and have had the luck to seize and create opportunities and try to stay on the cutting edge.


I have a question.
Why do you think some creatives are successful than others?
What makes a writer rich and the other, broke?

There’s a sense in which I owe whatever can be perceived as success to the privilege of being able to put in work at a time (young) black voices are particularly strong and vital, while also building platforms beyond myself in service of the community.


There are talks in the literary circle that you are a godfather of sorts. Some of your proteges are doing well.
Where can we buy forms?

She hasn’t lied. DM for form prices. Lol.


But seriously though, what can we do to enter the Efe Paul Azino caucus? Do you mentor anyone at the moment?

Not directly to be honest. I’m a little cynical about the whole idea of mentorship, given how unclear expectations tend to be. Good poetry excites me. I’m a believer in its importance and in what young voices have to say. I respond by lending every support I can.

There’s something to be said here for timing. Heritage Bank Ltd has a fine team driving an important narrative and they had the foresight to engage poets. So much was happening at the time and we were a key part of it. The collaboration grew out of that. Everyone’s happy.


In other words, money exchanged hands and we are all happy?

Amongst other things.


And the reception of the poem after it aired on #bbnaija?
Do people run after you and take pictures now?

Dark as clubs get, in some underground in PH, someone snakes through the shadows and throws it like an accusation, “You did the Heritage Bank advert!” and snakes right back. It’s kind of been like that.


Let’s talk about the production of Finding Home. How did that come about?
P.S: You went to Germany without me.

In 2014, we wanted to respond to the migration question with something that pushes the boundaries. I reached out to some of the finest poets in Lagos at the time and we made magic, something that needed to be recreated with greater ambition.

A few years later, a funding opportunity opened up and we took it on the road. It’s back this year with a more international cast and shows in Lagos, Abuja, Accra, and Dakar.

I can’t quite remember who said festivals promote diversity, bring people into dialogue and make cities better places to live in but I believe it.

The festival’s drive is to create a space that allows poets from across Africa and the world interact, collaborate, and further conversations on important themes in this our Lagos, while also empowering younger voices through workshops.


Just before we round up, let’s talk about your forthcoming poetry collection. When is it due and where can we get it?

My forthcoming collection is titled The Tragedy of Falling with Laughter Stuck in your Throat and is due out under Narrative Landscape in October.


That was an explosive session with EFE PAUL!!
I learnt a lot. I can assure that I’ll slide into his DM very soon.
Thank you, #Synners for following!! And thank you once again, EFE PAUL.

Efe P: It was a pleasure.
We have come to the end of the show. Once again, we say thank you to everyone who joined us.
See you again the next time we come your way.


This interview originally happened on twitter. Follow the #SyncityNGLLL to be a part of the conversation.

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