Tade Ipadeola, Okigbo and Soyinka

I Sound like Okigbo and Soyinka in a Centrifuge | In Conversation With Tade Ipadeola

In conversation

Welcome to yet another recap of our very own Syncity NG Literary Lords and Ladies show. This Monday’s guest is a have a veteran in the Nigerian literary space; seasoned poet, a thinker and a lover of culture. He was the 2013 winner of the NLNG prize for literature (poetry). Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Tade Ipadeola. If you missed it or would like to catch up, we’ve compiled a transcript in line with our tradition.

What was the first thing you bought when you received the ‘gbam-gbam’ alert of $100,000 from NLNG in 2013 for your book, The Sahara Testaments?

Tade Ipadeola: Ha! Brand new bookshelves o, and a ticket for a holiday. I shared this at LABAF 2018, that my carpenter was the first to call about those bookshelves. And then I needed a change of scenery.

😂😂😂 The holiday must have been needed. How would you describe your life post NLNG Prize? Of course there were significant change asides finance, eh?

Tade Ipadeola: The way I write and the way I want to write came closer to being the same thing. I have more books now than I can ever read. It wasn’t like that before the Nigeria Prize

A lot of people in the literary space have referred to you as one of the ‘old poets’ set in the way they think poetry should be written. Would you say poetry has a timeline? And is the poetry of ‘old’ still relevant in this day and age?

Tade IpadeolaTade Ipadeola: Now, that’s interesting to learn. I write. I like form. I like musicality beyond what @lasisielenu can lampoon at will. I’m not a ‘spoken word’ artist though I admire a number of these @SageBaba being primus inter pares. About the shelf life of any kind of poetry, we can talk about that in about 300 years.

Did you just drop a shade for some poets? 😂😂😂😂 ‘I am not Lasisi…’ Ha! ‘I like musicality beyond what @lasisielenu can lampoon at will…’ Tade Ipadeola to poets who called him rigid and old-fashioned. This shade is too hot! 😭😭😭😭😭If the shoe fits, please come and pack it. Ehen, we will revisit this response later.😂 Anyway, as one who is passionate about the Yoruba language, how has your poetry spread the language beyound our borders?

Tade Ipadeola: In some ironic way, Lasisi Elenu, particularly, has critiqued the popular reception of new Nigerian poetry better than most professional critics. He is the amateur we need. He does what he does for the love of art. [About your question] I’m not sure if my poetry in Yoruba has made any impact within the Yoruba culture itself although I have certainly brought more from Yoruba poetry into English. Wait. The Delphic Laurel in poetry was actually for Odídẹrẹ́ translated as Songbird.

@afokay: Can you share (a link to) 1 or 2 of your Yoruba poems please, Tade?

Tade Ipadeola: It’s scattered over my Twitter timeline, I’m afraid, although I think African Writing website has Odídẹrẹ́ on it somewhere. The rest is in print.

Do poets of a particular generation owe those coming after them anything? As one who is a stakeholder, so to speak, in the Nigerian poetry scene, has anything been put in place to encourage young poets?

Tade Ipadeola: If there is any duty in that sense, I think it is to refrain from devaluing the currency, language. We do have a duty not to foul things up. We have to service the mint with virgin oil, if you please. And oh, Coleridge liked to have younger poets around so that they can tell him if the integrity of the line is intact. That may come across as a bit imperious in this day and age but I think it is another kind of duty older poets owe.

A lot of poets complain that poetry is like the adopted child in the well-fed family of literature. Fiction and nonfiction writers are treated better, and all that. Does poetry pay your bills? And how can poets feed while ‘spreading the word’?

Tade IpadeolaTade Ipadeola: Very few people ever lived off poetry in the history of the world. As Seamus Heaney once observed, poetry is not an occupation, it is a preoccupation. My occupation is legal practice. I like to keep poetry as the transcendental element in the life of my imagination.

Basically, Tade Ipadeola says that poetry doesn’t feed him and his household but his legal practice does. 😏😏 This table, he-he!

@karooforofuo I told someone same thing. Write poetry if you love it. But don’t bank on it to feed you.

@mystiquesynn: Three questions for Tade; one, have you ever thought of quitting poetry due to an unfortunate incident or persecution? Two, among the new crop of poets, who do you admire and why? Three, have you ever been accused of sounding like another poet?

Tade Ipadeola: A clutch. One, no, I have never thought about quitting poetry. There was a fellow once who said I plagiarised his work and this is the 7th year in which I have been waiting for the proof or a summons to court. I’ve continued writing and publishing all the same.

Two, I wouldn’t name favourites here but I have seen stunning work from Titilope, from the Ibadan coterie, and lately from guys in Port Harcourt and Enugu. Lagos is a flux for me.

Three, there was this particular critic who claimed I sound like Okigbo and Soyinka in a centrifuge. I sort of liked that. Salt and sugar nor easy to separate so it must be a thing on its own.

@afokay Hi Tade, having excluded handsome financial reward for poetry, what’s your greatest source of fulfillment as a poet, Awards? Have you delved into other genres at any point or do you intend to?

Tade Ipadeola: Interesting question. I started life as a writer by writing essays because my father, who was a literature teacher, made me do it. I do am sotay I won N50.00 for it in 1986 which became my stipend in university. This money matter for me na dog and shadow.

What do you think is responsible for the mass exodus of Nigerian poets to the diaspora? Your thoughts on why they prefer Western awards to NLNG and ANA?

Tade Ipadeola: Literature has suffered generally in Nigeria so those who create it tend to move where their art is appreciated. Poverty has dealt a dizzying blow to all of us in Nigeria. It’s as simple as that really.

Okay. Last words, Tade? For poets who may be struggling to find their footing and validation from the poetry community. Also, do you accept mentees?

Tade Ipadeola: To the emerging poets I say keep writing. Don’t yield to the echo chamber. Test the waters beyond Nigeria. Don’t be afraid to send your work [out there] to Faber and Faber or FSG. It may sound like a cliché but trust the process of writing itself to cure what ails you.

And make I nor lie, poetry go do you strong tin o. Nor be mọin-mọin o.

Before you go, Tade, how can we get your books? Very important.

Tade Ipadeola: You can get my books at all Glendora and Jazzhole outlets nationwide.

We have come to the end of the #SyncityNGLLL show! Special thanks to our esteemed guest @tadepen for his words of wisdom.

Keep a date with us next Monday. Follow @SyncityNG on Twitter to stay informed. By the way, have you checked out our exciting anniversary anthology shortlist?

Leave a Reply