In Conversation With Tolu Akinyemi, Author of the “Dead Series”

Tolu Akinyemi
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We interviewed Tolu Akinyemi sometime last year and yesterday, he was back on the #SyncityNGLLL show with us yesterday! For those who don’t know Tolu, here’s a few things about him; Tolu Akinyemi hails from Nigeria and resides in the UK where he’s been endorsed by the Arts Council, England as a writer with “exceptional talent”. A mentor to young people and a writer with over 10 years of experience. Tolu Akinyemi is the author of several books, Unravel Your Hidden Gems, Dead Cats Don’t Meow, Dead Dogs Don’t Bark, and Dead Lions Don’t Roar, among many others.

I know poetry doesn’t pay your bills because you have a lucrative 9-5 as a business analyst and consultant in obodo oyibo. So why bother?

Tolu Akinyemi: Well, poetry is a way of conveying my message in a short burst of words. A short poem can carry so much weight, hence poetry.

Speaking of conveying messages, do you think poetry is a powerful tool to effect change in our society, especially a society like Nigeria where listening/reading poetry is generally seen as the least of our problems?

Tolu Akinyemi: I would say that poetry is a powerful tool to effect change as the problem is not just about reading poetry but the reading culture which is getting better and people are beginning to see the benefits of poetry. Poetry can also be a way of recounting history to generations unborn, about some of the issues that happened long before they were born. A poem can convey that message effectively. I recently wrote two poems about Bullions in Bourdillon and Inconclusive Elections, generations unborn will read in the future and get the first hand gist without reading a political journal or book about the elections.

For someone who has lived in Nigeria and the UK, how would you describe both literary spaces? Where does your greatest applause come from?

Tolu Akinyemi: I am so passionate about the Nigerian literary space, I love the writing community and I would say the literary community in the UK is also exceptional. I have enjoyed great support from both spaces which I don’t take for granted.

So if you had a chance to remain in one space, where would it be and why? Honest answers only. Don’t worry. We won’t won’t tell. 😏😏😏😏

Tolu Akinyemi: To be candid, I will choose the UK space as it fuels my creativity in a positive way. There is a difference between having dreams and actualising your dreams. So I would go for the UK Literary space.

Ah. The confession. Is this because the Nigerian space hasn’t fully embraced poetry or they simply don’t read poetry? (or the market no dey sell?)

Tolu Akinyemi: I would say it’s not just about poetry but there are other environmental factors that will put the Nigerian literary space on the back burner.

What do you think can be done to the Nigeria Literary space to make it better?

Tolu Akinyemi: I would say the literary space is deepening, however there must be more respect, protection and value on intellectual property. There should also be more support for creative talents from the government and private sectors; this will encourage a lot of creative folks.

I totally agree with you. What inspires the themes in your poetry collections? I noticed they have peculiar names? I call them the ‘Dead Series’. What’s your fascination with dead animals?

Tolu Akinyemi: Yes. I want to be remembered as the Author of the Dead Series. As to the inspiration, we all have that unique roar, Bark, Meow, a Hidden Gem we need to unravel and my books are a sort of boost to help us be the best version of ourselves.

Author of the Dead Series? OK o. Stephen King, move over. Another ‘Dead’ author is here.😅

Tolu Akinyemi: I would say the themes are so varied and mostly on everyday life, situation and scenarios. In Dead Cats Don’t Meow, I had poems about Oshodi, Ojota Park, Politrickians, Computer Village, Lagos Traffic, Ebola and so on.

@lafilleagath: Did you encounter bumps with publishers and how did that affect you literally?

Tolu Akinyemi: I have been self-published from the word “go” and I hope to start publishing others hopefully sometime in the future. So no issues with publishers as I am also a publisher.

@mystiquesynnn: Hello Synners. @SynCityNG I have questions for @toluakinyemi

  1. What was the most hurtful review you received about your books?
  2. How do poets with no other source of income (like you) feed while remaining true to their craft?
  3. How can we get your books?

Tolu Akinyemi: 1. I have had negative reviews which is a part of an author’s journey. However, I try not to take negative reviews personal. If there are things I need to improve upon in my writing, I take the learning points and move on.

2. By being creative and looking for ways to get their work out there. Either through spoken word performances or by promoting their published work through unorthodox means.

3. My books are available on @amazon @AmazonUK @Rovingheights @patabahbooks @Okadabooks @bubooxhq @Waterstones @barnesandnoble all on Twitter.

@movicxy: How will you evaluate demand for your books – the market?

Tolu Akinyemi: I would say it’s beginning to gather steam in the Nigerian market, once upon a time. It was gathering dust but I am gaining some momentum now which should get better after my next book launch in Lagos on the 13th of April.

@movicxy: Would you say poetry is in effective demand for, as against fiction and non fiction write-ups?

Tolu Akinyemi: Once upon a time, poetry was at the background, at the back burner however it no longer hurts to be a poet. Poetry is now becoming a major force in the literary space and book sales are hitting the roof. So poets can start celebrating those little feats.

Before we go, Tolu. Tell us about your books and why it is important for everyone to have a copy in their library.

Tolu Akinyemi: My books come highly recommended, as they will help readers to live their best life possible. My poetry collections will help you have a go at life and find your own unique roar and niche.

One quick thing before we wrap up the show, Tolu: last word of advice to young poets and writers out there?

Tolu Akinyemi: Your words are powerful, go create. Don’t hide under the shadows of not good enough, we are all work in progress. I want to thank everyone that showed up tonight. Y’all are amazing. Synners are people I can count on anytime anyday.

There we have it! Tolu says to go create! Special thanks to our guest for his honest answers and our amazing audience for their insightful comments and contributions.

See you next week!

Follow us on Twitter @SynCityNG to catch up on updates, take part in super-engaging conversations and play fun games. By the way, we released the long-list of our Anniversary Anthology+Prize last week with some remarkable titles, have you checked it out?

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