This interview session was with one of the most talented poets of our time, Tolulope Akinyemi, a.k.a Poet Tolu.
Read his interview below.
Okadabooks: Good morning Poetolu , welcome to our chat session
Poetolu: Good morning Okadabooks. Thank you for having me here.
Okadabooks: Great. Poetolu please can we know more about you?
Poetolu: Okadabooks My name is Tolulope Akinyemi. I was born in Akure, Ondo State Nigeria.Amongst other things, I’m a writer, presently working on my 4th book. My background is Architecture & Design and I am an entrepreneur. I’ve been asked if I’ll ever be a full-time writer and my answer is usually “No”. I love writing, but it’s just one of a few things I am passionate about and enjoy doing.
Okadabooks: How did you start writing?
Poetolu: Okadabooks, It started with ‘boredom’ while growing up. This boredom led to me picking up books, which lead to a love for reading and eventually a love for writing. I always say every writer is first a reader.
Okadabooks: I can’t help but agree with you, Poetolu . But why did you choose poetry?
Poetolu: Okadabooks I loved words; I still do. I find them pleasurable and (I think), I was very fascinated with a ‘challenge’ poetry presents; to say the most you can with the fewest words you can. It’s one of my personal definitions (or goals) when writing poetry. My choice partly could have also been from laziness. It’s simply quicker to write a poem than to write a story ?
Okadabooks: Poetolu ?. Yeah, writing poems is quicker. And I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing one but get stuck. That is, poems have this pattern and rhyme and I just can’t swing my head around it. All the same, you write awesome poetry. ???. What do you think about writers’ block?
Poetolu: Here’s what I think; ‘writer’s block’ is often over-sensationalized. Some people even declare it with some sort of pride. In every profession, you have to find a way to motivate/inspire yourself and do what you have to do. Do Doctors have ‘Doctor’s block’? Or Lawyers or Painters or Teachers? What most people consider a block is just a fear, a psychological hindrance that stems from various sources. A common one is a fear of putting one’s words out there and being ‘judged’. I believe if you feel you need to do something, just start, just start. There will never be a perfect time when you’ll look out of your window and declare that ‘this day is the perfect day (where every variable is lined up nicely) for me to get the work done’. That day will never come.
Okadabooks: Poetolu Nicely put. I love the doctor analogy. Something I’ll still like to know though, your titles are totally out of this world. How did you come about them? How do you pick titles?
Poetolu: Okadabooks The saying is ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but that’s what we do every time, and it’s not just books, we do it with people, and other things. The titles of my books are deliberately picked to grab attention and to be fun. Many people don’t like poetry because they find it boring, and I was… I am trying to change that perception.
It’s simple. If you hate poetry and you are given two poetry books to choose one that you HAVE to read. One is titled ‘Funny Men Cannot Be Trusted’ and the other is titled ‘The Songs of the Evening Wind’ which would you be tempted to pick?
Okadabooks: Poetolu the more interesting title, of course, Funny men cannot be trusted. So I guess this is you saying, since books are judged by their covers, let me give a title that ensures a fair judgment.
Poetolu: Okadabooks I think sometimes, there’s a temptation as poets to get drawn towards sounding deep and profound at the expense of being relatable and communicating with the audience. Story-telling is always about the audience. I often say, simplicity and profoundness are not mutually exclusive.
Having said these, the titles (of my books) are not randomly plucked out of the thin air. There is a story behind the title of each book I have written, with a chapter telling these stories in each book.
Okadabooks: Poetolu nice.??? Thanks so much for your time so far. Before timeout, please tell us how the self-publishing business had been for you.
Poetolu: Okadabooks , The pleasure is mine. Thank you. ?. To the question, self-publishing has its challenges. There’s a burden on you to make sure all due process is followed especially when you don’t have a huge team behind you. However, I will say it’s still one of the best decisions I have made. I tell people, getting your story out there is not as difficult as it was 10 years ago. If you have a story to tell, don’t wait till a publisher picks you up. While waiting, take advantage of the several platforms available today (which Okadabooks is one of). Last year I obtained an Arts Council of England endorsement for my writings which has provided me with the opportunity to settle in the United Kingdom. A great chance I would have lost if I didn’t already have published work and was still waiting for a traditional publisher to do so for me. I have enjoyed so many benefits and privileges from setting out on this path, and for anyone reading, if you have a story to tell start telling it NOW.
Okadabooks: Poetolu cool. I really hope others can read this and know that waiting has never helped anyone. Doing does. Thanks so much for your words of advice.
Poetolu: Okadabooks I often love to weave personal jokes into my books. It’s one of 3 personal jokes in the book. Another one is hidden in the spine of the book, not visible unless you open the page very widely.
Okadabooks: Poetolu it has been a wonderful time with you. And although it is wrap up time, I can’t help but ask my favorite question . ??. If you had to choose one, between ogbolor soup and jollof rice, which would you gladly give up for a year?
Poetolu: Okadabooks Hahaha! Giving up Jollof rice would be palatal suicide ??
Okadabooks: Poetolu Ha! Not fair. You and I would have sat to an awesome plate of pounded yam and ogbolor soup. ???. Anyway, you already rejected ogbolor. ????
Poetolu: Okadabooks Jollof is the official dish of the nation, that’s why ?
Okadabooks: Ah! Ok. If you say so. Thanks so, so, so much, Poetolu. You’re awesome. I look forward to doing this with you again. To everyone who joined us, thanks so much. We appreciate your time with us, and we hope you learned something today.
Poetolu: Okadabooks, thank you so much for having me. Thank you, everyone, for reading. If you have questions to ask, please drop them in the comment section, and we will get Poetolu to answer as much as he can.