Friday, November 21, 2014
Thread, This Wordweaver Must : A Collection of Poems By Ayokunle Falomo
Ayokunle Falomo is the author of Thread, This Wordweaver Must : A Collection of Poems. He started writing when he was about six. Ayokunle says it began with writing short stories, at times adapting stories of authors he enjoyed reading.
Later, starting from about age 9, he was writing and directing plays for the children department of the church he attended then. With the publication of his first book, a collection of poems, that word weaving has only begun to bear fruit. RML caught up with him for an exclusive interview which you can read below...
- What inspires you to write?
In the opening poem of “thread, this wordweaver must!”, I mention that I write to stay alive. There's a need to leave something of myself here. I'm also a very forgetful person and usually, writing is a way for me to be remind myself of the things that matter to me. Stories matter to me, and so I tell them.
- Do you have a specific writing style? Do you write only poetry?
I’ve noticed that I mostly write the way I talk, and other people have told me that in reading my works, it feels like I’m talking to them, hence what I’ve termed a conversational approach to writing. I mostly write poetry, and every now and then non-fiction - articles and such.
- What is the difference between poetry and prose, and do you think people appreciate them the same way?
I actually have been trying to understand the difference for myself. There are writers like Alan Patton though that I'm delighted by who write prose that’s very poetic and rich in imagery. The difference, I’ll say, is the way the words are expressed – often straightforward in prose, and with some embellishment in poetry. I can’t say that people appreciate them the same way, most people get frustrated with poetry, I think, but for someone like me who just loves words in general, there’s often no distinction in my appreciation, although I want to say that I love poetry more, partly because it’s still something I’m trying to understand.
- Some say poetry is not so popular, how do you think this can be improved?
Well, there are individuals who are working to make sure that this is not the case. A form of poetry that’s received acclaim in recent years is the spoken word approach to poetry, though there are still discussions about whether that form can be appropriately termed poetry or not. If those who dissent spend time to study (as I do) those whose works I personally respect and sometimes emulate – Sarah Kay, Joshua Bennett, Anis Mojgani, Rudy Francisco, among others – I believe there’ll be no arguments. There are open mics across the country that give the chance for people to share their poems, and that is one way. With popularity gained though, there’s always the fear that the art form will become insignificant once everyone starts to do it. What I think is that everyone should be given the chance to share their stories because that’s all they are at the end of the day, whether you term it poetry, or prose, or non-fiction!
- This is your first book. Tell us what inspired it, and details about how you got published.
This is indeed my first book. I’ve always had a fascination with stories, and quite recently the desire to learn more about what it means to be human drove me to write poems to answer the question. I was working on a collection last year to that effect but it eventually morphed into something similar yet somewhat different, and this is how this published collection came about. This, I feel, is the right time to contribute to the conversation that’s happening worldwide about whose story is worth listening to. Everyone wants their story to be shared, to be heard, and this is my way of saying that your thread (be it yellow, or red) is worthy of addition to this tapestry of what we call humanity.
- Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Recently, what I’ve been trying to challenge myself with in my writing is brevity. I always feel like there’s a lot to say, but I’m learning how to write concisely. Another challenge, though a personal one, is writing the poems my pen doesn't want to – poems that address the ugly in our stories as humans.
- When and why did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Along with my siblings, I was raised a sheltered kid and really, interaction with people who were of different status than my family was somewhat discouraged. Hearing other people's stories at that early age pushed me to write stories that featured those who were different from me, and the books I read were about those people too. I developed a love for literary fiction, for stories of people who endure situations I might never find myself in, and tried to tell those stories. I would say I considered myself a writer ever since the very first time I put pen to paper.
- What books have most influenced your life most?
The books I’ve been influenced by the most are books in the non-fiction genre. A few authors have written works that have impacted my life in some significant way, one of which is Seth Godin. The Art of Possibility by Ben Zander; The Invitation, The Call, and The Dance – all by Oriah have also made significant impact in my life.
- Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Growing up as a child, my favorite author was Cyprian Ekwensi, for his knack for telling adventure stories that captured my teenage attention and imagination. I still remember his vivid descriptions of events as they unfold.
- What are your current projects?
As of now, the projects I’m getting myself ready for, which will start once the new year rolls in, are in connection to the just published collection of poems. I’ll be collaborating with artists of other mediums (painters, musicians, etc.) to create works inspired by “thread, this wordweaver must!” and there are also audio and video projects based on the book which I intend to work on.
- Can you share a little about your writing routine?
I can’t say that I have a specific routine. I mostly just write when I need to. I carry a notepad with me almost everywhere, and would write things down – lines, ideas, and sometimes even a whole stanza of a poem, or occasionally when I'm lucky, a whole poem. I do talk to myself a lot about ideas and usually when I sit down to write, the words just pour out of me. Most of my writing, as I mentioned earlier is stream of consciousness – the way I think/talk; and since I'm a big fan of extended metaphors, a line I write down would often easily lead to the next and before I know it, I have a poem.
- If you had to choose, which writer would you say writes in about the same line or genre as your book? You know, like if you like this book, then you'll also like mine?
There are poets I respect and whose works I enjoy reading that, in this project, I paid homage to in some ways. If you are a fan of (or ever loved anything by) E. E Cummings, Walt Whitman, and William Carlos Williams, I can assure you that you’ll love the project. Also, the spoken word poets I mentioned earlier are influences for my conversational style of writing.
- Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? What books are you reading now?
I just finished reading Quiet, by Susan Cain and right now, I sadly don’t have any books on my to-read list yet.
- What comments do you have about the reading culture in Nigeria?
If reading now is what it was while I was growing up, my response would be that it’s amazing! We shared books with each other as if they were candy. I want to say kudos however to the people who are working tirelessly to continue to promote the reading culture in Nigeria, especially among youths, because my impression is that these days, reading's become something uncool.
- Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My mission with this project, as I alluded to earlier, is this : to remind all of us that our stories (no matter how different from the “norm” they might be) are worth telling!
For anyone who’s interested in getting themselves a copy (or two) of the collection of poems, you can find it online:
Amazon (US) – http://bit.ly/threadtwmAmazon
Amazon (UK) – http://bit.ly/threadtwmAmazonUK
Local Bookstores (US) – http://bit.ly/threadtwmLocalBkstores
You can find me on twitter : @AFalomo
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