OLAJUWON JOSEPH OLUMIDE is a poet, novelist, journalist, artist, musician, and teacher – the all-round art lover. Though Olumide has not authored any book, his writers have appeared on many platforms and he has completed two manuscripts; INDISPENSABLE ALLIES (a novel) and his poetry anthology ‘THE GREATEST WRITER AND OTHER POEMS’.
Olumide has won BRIGITTE POIRSON POETRY CONTEST (BPPC) an unprecedented two times, in 2015 and 2016. He presently administers a social media based literary initiative, Think Literature. He is also the short stories editor of Literary Temple e-magazine, initiated by Creative Writers’ Association of Nigeria.
In this interview, Olumide discusses his views on poetry…
How did you find poetry?
Well, Poetry is one of my gathered pebbles I found earlier in my secondary school days around 2005, as destiny put me in the garden of Art. As an Art student, I was engaged in drawing, painting, music, writing, and lots more. However, my interest for poetry became keen after I met a few creative minds on Facebook around 2013/2014. To be precise, through Poet Gabriel Timilehin Olajuwon, I met with Sir Kukogho – a stern critic and editor. Then, I was going professional in the craft.
What kind of poetry do you write, what defines your poetry?
On this, I must say I am not restricted to a particular style or kind poetry writing.
Experiences of life, stages of writing maturity and broad readings have seen me exploring different poetry forms and themes.
I write in simple and esoteric dictions. I normally stick to definite poetic forms and rhyming patterns. Recently however, more of my poems are in free-verses, since the depth of my messages means more to me.
What exactly is poetry to you?
Poetry to me means freedom of expression about life one’s world and the world at large, conceived in one’s special thoughts and emotions – best expressed by the poet himself, in the uniqueness of his mind’s insight.
So, no one can write or understand your poem better than you. What links us under one poetic umbrella is the shade of artistic techniques – the poetic devices. There’s an unexplainable passion for poetry that keeps me on the track of consistency. Aside that, I think there’s the need to become fulfilled – establish a unique voice amidst the hubbub of literary voices grappling for recognition. There’s also the pressing need to be the voice of the voiceless, the need to redefine my family name, boost the pride of my country, my continent and the world at large.
Do you have any role model in poetry? Perhaps one you emulate and write like?
Sighs… On this issue of having a role model, as I have heard a few insightful writers say, ‘every gifted and purposeful writer/poet, inspires me’. However, I have literary ancestors I revere as my Great Trinity of Literature in Chinua, Soyinka and Osundare. I have my way of evoking their spirits in me. Aside these people, I have a closer master in Kukogho Iruesiri Samson who supervised the laying of my good foundation in poetry. I still observe his works in secret.
What do you think of poetry contests? Do you think winning such contests define a poet’s success in poetry?
About contest issue, there are two sides of insight to it. First, poetry contest, like other contests, do not in the real sense mean the winning writer is the best. There are many potential writers who are not privileged to enter for such. Thus, one of the privileged wins…
However, only the best wins contests to some extent.
You cannot be mediocre and dream of winning credible awards. It takes surmounting the best to be the best via hard work and uniqueness.
So contests prod writers to be professional. Again, the accolades are certifications and testimonies of a writer’s career dealings.
What do you do when you aren’t writing poetry?
When I am not writing, I am singing, reading or teaching.
Who is Olajuwon without poetry?
Without Poetry, Olajuwon is a Communication and English Language Scholar. He is also a talented Soul R&B singer, an ardent Christian and a teacher. I was once a hip-hop artiste, as well as a fine artist good, but academics buried these.
What are the challenges you face when writing your poems?
The major challenge I have these days writing my poems is the ability to deal with lengthy lines in the lineation of my poesy. Most of my poems are of lengthy lines – even my award winning ones. They are sophisticated though.
What do you expect to achieve writing poetry in the short and in the long run?
I’d say literary writing makes me want to brace up and catch up my literary ancestors’ achievements, especially, becoming the new emerging Wole Soyinka of my state, my nation, my continent and the world at large. I have a dream of winning the Nobel laurel like Soyinka, and I think winning the BPPC twice is my little light of optimism for what posterity holds for me.
Can you give a piece of advice for up and coming writers/poets?
On this I’d love to quote unpublished article of mine titled ”Life Cycle of a Budding Writer.” It says: “An emeritus was once an abecedarian…”
Budding writers, do not be afraid as a toddler to place your feeble feet on this path of writing Odyssey. But step with care – observe, read voraciously, write, seek for corrections and improvement daily.
Have a vision for your writing career, and pray to God always and see yourself as a success.
I heartily thank WRR for this opportunity to voice out my heart. May I seize this opportunity to announce to my fans and lovers of art, to watch out for my novel – INDISPENSABLE ALLIES – and my poetry collection – POETRY OF LIFE.
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