Hello and welcome to another episode of #SyncityNGLLL.
We are having a book shower today and our guest is a poet, documentary photographer and author of The Arrival of Rain. His chapbook, Origin of Names, was selected by Chris Abani and Kwame Dawes for African Poetry Book Fund, 2020.
Hi guys, I have been waiting all day to say hi. I hope we have a good time together actually. Thank you @Syncityng for having me too.
First of all, congratulations on your collection. Great work. Comes highly recommended. Where do you find the words? How do you put the words together to fit into to a great poem?
The Arrival of Rain is as personal as personal can get. I needed to let out a lot of absence at that time. I was left in a relationship. I felt unwanted. Unloved. It was really a terrible time for me. So I think I found myself writing poems, a book.
The grace that comes with poetry is that, as a poet, you open your wounds and let people find their selves in that rot. It is a miracle. And magic. Everything in between.
Speaking of personal, I agree that the poem was an ode to you as a person and to your body.
Was it deliberately created this way? What did you hope to achieve by baring yourself to us?
We are the generation that look inwardly. We are the generation that talk about a dying world by showing the world what dies within us. We present our hurt to tell the world that it rots in fragment. Using myself/boy as metaphor did not limit The Arrival of Rain. It was deliberate.
I saw the sprinkle of Yoruba, a reference to Tope Alabi et al.
As one who published with a foreign press, did you have to explain yourself/language to the editor?
Freddie is a very supportive publisher. I remember that the response to my submission mail was that he was enmeshed by my writing. And poetry is also a research work. Poetry carefully takes care of its language. Language should not be explained, or be apologetic.
I didn’t have to explain to him. Of course, he is publishing a Yoruba poet. It is rich enough to identify with place, Origin.
Ah. My book, Origin of Name, by @AfricanPoetryBF explores writing about Yoruba Names. We’d keep repping home.
You have a rich writing portfolio. When did you start building it and what does it take to have the body of work you have?
No one starts building a portfolio by telling himself he is starting. We function in the reality of what we find ourselves doing. I think it is just important that we do our bit, as diligently as we can. And then, the world will remind us itself.
As an emerging poet, I put my cards everywhere I can. Face the rejections squarely because they come in their multitudes. Celebrate the little wins & return to Google docs to write new poems.
I have followed your writing journey from the days of Facebook. Today, you are an editor to several lit. spaces. How did this transformation come about and how did it prepare you for the Arrival of Rain?
The transformation will never be complete, Syn. I have to agree that I’ve had my wins. I also have to agree that I’ve been consistent. Facebook days, these new writings, everything is preparing me for a better role as poet and editor.
I also could have written any other book. Last year was a busy year for my writing. But I am grateful for the very small fires that started this journey. The transformation as poet and editor, again, can never be complete. I am learning everyday.
Phew. @adedayo_agarau inspires us all. Not only does he show that hardwork is the key, consistency and constant learning is not too bad either.
Tell us about some of your favorite poems in the collection so people can have an idea on what’s inside.
Ah, It’s so hard to decide. Each poem is a journey, Syn. From “Look how far I’ve come” to all the “Self portraits” to “What it means to be freed in your country”, everything is bliss to me.
What would you say is responsible for your growth and how can poets find their voice in this space where some poets have been accused of plagiarizing one another?
I would ask this question if I were in a room with poets. But it is fair to say that there is a tiny line between influence and plagiarism. Identifying that line, that limit, will guide your writing. Voice is always changing. No poet is entirely free from influence.
“Voice is always changing.”
Indeed, finding your unique voice as a writer will draw the line between influence and outright plagiarism.
Qs from DM:
1. How has your association with foreign journals helped your craft?
2. Was there a reason you published with a foreign press and not local?
3. What is the publication process for the Arrival of Rain?
4. How much is the book?
1. Association with foreign journals. 😊. The idea is to safekeep my works. Letting the world know that I lived. A digital footprint of a sort. I have published with a number of local press in the past. Foreign or not, we move.
2. In all truthfulness, what local presses are taking poetry collections from emerging poets? The local market is designed to favour fiction.
But I’m sure they are doing better. New presses are springing up. Soon, a poet will not have to break a bank to publish at home.
3. The process was grief. Absolute grief. My grandmother’s death. My family’s absence. My loneliness. Love. Daniel Usman’s death. Everything wired through my body at the time of writing was grief, pure grief.
4. Once it gets into the country, my publisher and I will decide on a subsidized price.
When it comes e-publishing, our works are more prone to being copied. And it’s a point of fear for many writers. Would you say we just brave the possibility of having our work “adopted” & go ahead to publish or wait to get a publishing house?
Better representation. Proper documentation. Experience. Community support are a few reasons why I chose @VegAlPress. Self publishing is great but I’d use publishers anytime.
Syncity NG :
Before we wrap up the show, do share with the audience how they can pre-order and a last word for budding poets.
Fellow budding poets, let’s just keep being the miracle that we are. We go make am.
SYNCITYNG We want to thank our guest @adedayo_agarau for honoring our invitation.
Special thanks to all those who joined us tonight.
You can order The Arrival of Rain on Amazon or simply slide into @adedayo_agarau ‘s DM. Do well to get a copy of the book when it lands Nigeria. Support African literature. Support young poets.
If you found this interview insightful, do share this post and join us in real time via Twitter or Instagram. (@syncityng).