Born in Kano, Kano State about three decades ago, Ijadunola Temitope Lawrence popularly known as STOL-D-GREAT graduated with a BTech (Hons) in Biochemistry from a Nigerian University of Technology in 2011. Tope was never taught poetry or literary studies by anybody as he attended a Science-only secondary school.
He is a very straightforward and egalitarian person who always advocates justice for all and tries his best to see that justice is always done. His love for justice and aversion to injustice has always spurred him to condemn and decry, through many of his satirical poems, injustice and other societal ills.
In this interview with WRR‘s Sam De Poet, Tope speaks about his poetry and perspectives.
When and how did you start writing poetry?
I wrote my first poem in 2007 but before then I had always been a lover and reader of poetry.
My first poem is “MY ENDANGERED CURIO”. I started writing poetry by wanting to express my feelings in verse.
What inspires your poetry?
Many things do inspire me but essentially, I get inspired by societal ills and my personal experiences, especially the sad ones.
Do you have any particular theme you focus on?
No; I don’t have anyone in particular. I write in accordance with the dictates of my muse.
Are there any poets in particular you look up to? Do you copy their style in your poems?
Hmmmmm; not really. Though there are many great poets whose works do really inspire and challenge me to write, but I don’t copy their styles because I don’t even have any particular style. I write as the muse directs. I must say this: atimes I do choose to follow certain poetic forms while writing. I love being original, I love being myself! Rhyming is common in my works. I love rhyming with sense
In what situation does tope gives his best? What do you consider an enabling environment for writing good poetry?
I love solitude and quietude to reason and write well but I can tell you my best is not limited by any particular situation/environment. If the muse comes at the market place, I would give my best.
Give your thoughts on plagiarism, have you ever fallen victim?
I have great aversion to it. I see a plagiarist as one who doesn’t have confidence or belief in him/herself, one who belittles himself. He’s never original or real! And as long as one plagiarizes, one can never give one’s best and never be oneself. It’s so bad! A victim of this? Perhaps when someone copied and posted my poem on his wall without acknowledging me in any way.
You have a knack for poetry appreciation and interpretation, tell us how you developed this ability?
It has been a gradual process for me in the literary world. Through reading works of different poets, getting familiar with the various literary/poetic devices- their uses and meanings and also teaching Lit-in-Eng to students. It didn’t just come overnight.
What else do you do apart from poetry?
I read… I read motivational books and also write prose. In fact, these are my first love; poetry came later
What are your goals in poetry? what are you aiming for?
My goals…? Well, I want to leave a literary heritage, a bequest that will continue to live after me. I’m aiming at having a global recognition in the world of poetry and also at bringing out the great poets in all the potential poets around me, especially the younger ones.
A word of advice for beginner poet and those who are interested in becoming one?
Creativity is very important! Don’t be mentally lazy. Be a great thinker. If you are a great and creative thinker, you surely would always think up and write out great lines.