Awodiya Esther Funke is one of the leading female voices in Nigerian poetry. Born in Lagos where she currently resides, Funke hails from Ilesha in Osun State, Nigeria. The highly talented poet who holds a Bachelors degree in Sociology from the Ekiti state University and a Masters degree in medical Sociology from the University of Ibadan has authored one collection of poetry entitled ‘The Farmer’s Daughter’.
Awodiya is the Initiator of Safe Dreams Initiative, an NGO dedicated to sickle cell awareness, a member of the Lagos State Health Volunteer Scheme, and the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Lagos State chapter. She is also a member of Poets in Nigeria (PIN) and the moderator of Eriata Oribhabor Photo Fun Contest a contest solely dedicated to photography.
How and when did your journey into poetry kick-off?
My journey into poetry started twenty two years ago when I was hit by what remains the most painful loss ever experienced, the death of my dear dad. His kind deeds inspired my very first attempt at writing poetry.
What type of poetry do you write? What inspires your words?
My background in sociology influences my kind of poetry. I write about all human endeavors, paying attention to social problems. My immediate environment inspires my words.
What do you do when you aren’t writing poetry?
When I’m not writing I take photographs. I’m a photo lover.
You’ve gone out of your way to not just write poetry but also in your own way affect lives with it. You recently did a project with people leaving with sickle cell anemia. Can you tell us about this?
I started Safe Dreams Initiative to create awareness for sickle cell anemia and to support sickle warriors. Safe Dreams Initiative called for poems recently on the theme sickle cell. This was done to pacify the pains with the pen. In the nearest future Safe Dreams Initiative will do more.
In the poems you’ve written so far, do you have one particular one that stands out for you?
My poems are my brain babies I love them all. But the Farmer’s Daughter, which is the title poem of my first published poetry collection, stole my heart.
Do you have a particular poet who influences your writing?
I enjoy reading the works of other poets a lot. Some of them mentor me from nearby distance. But for the likes of Sir Eriata Oribhabor, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, Femi Onileagbon and Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom, my poetry keeps breathing fresh air.
Plagiarism is one scourge that has eaten deeply into Nigerian writing. How do you think it can be effectively tackled and how have you been preventing theft of your intellectual property?
Plagiarism can be abated if the highest authority, which is the government, pays more than lip attention to the plight of writers. Also, there should be firm punishments for offenders. In my own case, my work had been documented with the relevant bodies and use of thm without permission will be a criminal offence.
How is the reception of your new book ‘The Farmer’s Daughter’?
The Farmer’s Daughter is a post term baby that was delivered by Something for Everybody Ventures. So far the reception is encouraging. Before the official presentation there have been request for copies of the book from different quarters, within Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
What type of poetry do you consider ideal? Should everybody be expected to write in a particular way?
Poetry of relevance is the most ideal kind of poetry, writing with purpose. However, because muses are different, forcing or expecting everyone to write ideal poetry will hamper creativity.
What are you aiming at? What are your goals for poetry?
I’m aiming at never to stop writing poetry. My long time goal is to weave my dreams and the dreams of my sickle strong friends and family to a network that keeps dreams Safe.
The last edition of the Eriata Oribhabor Photo Contest which you moderate was about pic-poetry. Tell us about it.
The pic-poetry concept is newly introduced to the fold. The contestants basically write a six-line poem inspired by the photo they’ve taken. It enhances creativity. As a photo lover and a poet, the contest had been wonderful. I have enjoyed every bit of it.
Any parting shot for upcoming writers?
Writing poetry like other endeavors requires needed skills.
Upcoming writers should not stop brushing up their poetry. To be relevant one need to keep learning which might sometimes require humility.
I owe the Words Rhymes & Rhythm College of Poetry (www.college.wrr.ng) immense appreciation. Such platforms are of help to upcoming writers writing poetry.
IG & Twitter: Awodiya Funke