1. David, how do you see poetry?
I first of all, I view poetry as an art. To me, this arty or literary enterprise encapsulates the language of a particular religion. By religion, I do not mean one’s faith or belief in a supreme being; no. What I mean is Literature itself. And this language is not the everyday speeches that we use in the streets or in the marketplace. It’s simply a dialect that’s made up of figures of speech, symbolisms, and un-familiar artistic and literary articulations. Besides, E.E. Sule, an associate professor of Languages and Literature in IBB University, Lapai, Niger State; defined poetry or creative literary writing as ‘metaphorisation’. And I see this as a perfect description of the art of literary writing. By this, imaginations, thoughts, real life tales, are garbed in figures of speech, metaphors. And this was what attracted me to poetry, as put by E. E. Sule, ‘‘the beauty of poetry, lies outside the confines of everyday speech’’. Linguistics gymnastics and imaginative and literary sway were what drew to literature.
2. What is for you the poetry today?
The poetry of today is lifeless. It is nothing less, than chaffs. It is shocking today, how craps get to win numerous literary prizes; when truism has it that these works are not literary in nature. They are rather the everyday s; barren of imagination, creativity, and fresh approaches. Any poetry that does not fed me with freshness of imageries or symbols; I label them ‘dead’. I would thunder without apology that many so-called poets today are poetasters. They claim to have scribbled lines they call poetry; while in reality, and in the context of Literature, they are sheer trumpeters of noise and chaffs. It is defiling to the religion of Literature, when what you write does not carry the badge of the literary religion. What is that badge you may ask? First it is, high and sharp and a flexible imagination; then, it is creativity; then, literariness; all of these summarily describe the literary art. One temptation many poets today face is the passion to be relevant. Many want to mean in their poems. They want to pass messages. They want to preach. They want to shout at the ailing government of their nation. They want to be activists. They want to strip the democratic dictators of their glories and pride; with their visions which is embedded in their lines. True. All of these are correct and are not a crime in themselves. In short they’re pivotal in Literature. However it may sound, if you shout and shout and shout; and your literary accent, I mean the language of literature is absent, then you are not different from the journalist whose article exposes the dysfunctional society. E.E. Sule, once said somewhere that ‘‘we enslave our literature too readily in the enclave of theme and do forget that it is the literary language that is in fact literature.’’ As quoted in E. E. Sule’s In their Voices and Visions [conversations with new Nigerian Writers], Titi Adepitan concludes that ‘‘language is the greatest pitfall of the upcoming generation’’. This is not crucifying the entire literary empire. There are very brilliant and sublime and tautened artistry out there. However, my cry and heartbeat is that mediocre intellectualism and tasteless poetry nay literariness birthed by pseudo-poets will not one day become true literature. Yet, for the realization of this, critics whose sagacity are alive must never keep silent.
3. What’s for you to be “poet” in these times?
Well, what drives me as a poet is simply the obsession or fascination attached to doing new phrases; i.e., to unfamiliarize the everyday expressions. I am captivated by metaphors and how freshly moulded they look in my eyes. I am an enemy of clichés; so I get to scout whether from my mind or any where to seeing that my expressions do not sound sour or festered. And I can summarize this ambition as the craze for artistic and aesthetic temperaments, and craft. On the other hand, my poetry is my life. And because I concur to ‘‘as a man thinks in his heart, so is he’’ then all of my imaginative and literary illocutions are to an extent my life owing to the fact that my life is my message. The message here, is simply my vision, my assignment etc. When I set out to write poetry, I never came in with a purpose or vision. What seduced me into poetry or Literature at the beginning was the fact that I wanted escaping from people and their shallow ideology. But get this clear, I do not, because of an imaginary audience or readership, intentionally water down my expressions, just to sound preachy or didactic. No. I allow my poem to just be as free as the water streams. Also, at some point before I got married to poetry, I felt I was not been understood by my friends, and family. I felt they never get to view phenomena as I viewed them. I had strong opinions that I couldn’t explain, so poetry appeared as an escape when I discovered I could garb my thoughts with figures of speech, imageries etc. thus masking them. But as I grew in poetry, and understanding the literati plus my life, I found out that my appreciation of the literati is in essence a vehicle through which my innate vision and life assignment would be expressed. I do not want to blow my own trumpet; I’d leave the critics and all those whose prudence is ablaze to fetch for themselves what vision or dimension is buried in my poetics.
4. Which is the the spark that starts your poetry?
How my poetry happens is unknown to my conscious self; I mean, I do not dictate how I should be inspired. Some times, I get to sit down to write poems, maybe because I have nursed them and kept them in my head for long. Other times, maybe just a word from the dictionary, from a speech or from the moon may just spark an inspiration in me. Also, maybe from mere noise making, playing, from any. I really do not wait to be inspired to write; because Life itself is an inspiration. The issue there is that humanity is just busy doing nothing, so they get to be too noisy without giving time to their inner self. Conclusively, my poetry and my short stories as well as my essays, spring from just anything that may inject an inspiration into my mind. Shockingly, I could be motivated to do a poem upon watching how dumb the clock is albeit it tells us the time. That’s just a summary of how my poetry and my writing happens. Recently, most of my un-finished works were inspired by reading other writers; and also watching some movies; talking with some female souls; fetching water; or silence; and in the course of praying and talking with my creator and God. Yet one great inspiration is the silence that erupts in my heart-well.
(courtesy in June 2012)