Adedayo Agarau is a Nigerian documentary photographer and poet. He explores the concept of godhood, boyhood, distance, and absence. His poems have been featured or forthcoming on Kalahari, Brittle Paper, Gaze Mag, Allegro, Obra Artifact, Praxis Magazine, African Writer, Click 042, One Jarcar Press, Expound Magazine, Geometry, 8poems and elsewhere.
Q: What was the process of writing your particular poem, Stones?
A: I have always cherished memories because they have directed my course through the years. Isn’t it beautiful that our body records events, even in our unconsciousness? Memory is like yellow tulips growing everywhere. No! not weeds, yellow tulips. Memories may come raging and turbulent, but when properly cared for, they are bliss. I was 9 when the Ikeja Cantonment bomb blast happened in 2002, with no hope of writing about it years to come. I wouldn’t even believe I would be a poet. I remember watching NTA NewsLine with my family, and there were pictures of a city full of dead people, covered with the white cloths, and some with the colours of the Nigerian flag, being mass buried.
Writing “Stones” was as heavy as the title. It just won’t let go. The poem was an old rag that needed to be rewashed. When the event happened in 2002, I was only 9 and clueless, never been anywhere near a fire. I am however glad I was able to revisit old memory and tuck it away.
Q: What does poetry mean to you?
A: Poetry. WOW. Sincerely, some questions will never entirely get the answers they deserve. I started writing in 2013 because I had developed an interest in the beauty of rhymes. At that time, there
were revolutionary Facebook rap battles, and I wanted to take the shine on one of those days. But I found something higher than the vain brawl of words, which was being a commuter of memory. Gbenga Adesina, also a shortlisted poet of Babishai, in 2015, told me that this is the generation of writers that turns inward. Always trapped in memory, body, dream, self. I am trapped somewhere,
still. And each time I emerge, I come with testimonies of that victory or ruin. And these testimonies carefully display how dear and personal poetry is to me; the goings and comings, the asylum chapel, thoroughly documented by poetry.
Q: What are your five year goals with your poetry?
A: A lot would have gone under the shades by then, and at the same time, a lot would have emerged. By then, I believe I would be done with my first full-length collection of poems. While that is still in the works, I have it tucked in my breast pocket to study poetry. Most importantly, the urge to get better would carry me through these 5 years and beyond. So yes! In 5 years, I want to be strong, formidable and remain relentless.
Q: Which African poets are you keen on reading?
A: I was particularly waiting for this question. Yay! Hi Gbenga Adesina & DM Aderibigbe! Hello Safia Elhillo! I saturate my self with these people. Their writing has dramatically influenced my works. The glorious works of Romeo Oriogun, Rasaq Malik Gbolahan and Gbenga
Adeoba remain colourful in mind. Logan February's deep in line narratives keep me sleepless. I am very grateful for the gift of writing and the ability to read. Well, I have a blockchain of poets that check and balance me in return, Mesioye John, Hauwa Nuhu, Nome Patrick, Wale Ayinla, Jide Badmus and Salawu Olajide (who is also on the shortlist), whose works have been my light for a long time now. I think reading poetry from other people helps us to understand their
core, and in return helps us to further understand our own cores too.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face with poetry?
A: As much as I like to say that poetry is a profoundly personal engagement for me, I love to see how it influences my public space. I have experimented with my facebook page, and I realized that it seems we are living our readers behind as regards the revolution of African
Poetry. But I am grateful to the beautiful works paddling itself out throughout the continent. Soon! Soon! The light will find us all.
Q: Is there anything of importance you would like to share with literature teachers, who are reading this?
A: Ah! Yes! Going by what Gbenga told me –“this is the generation
that turns inward.”
I think the body / self / the soul/ is a beautiful place. Full of chaos, fireflies crackling in fire; the body is a field with blessed of butterflies too. Writing curriculums should be drawn to address or
affect immediate environments. We, students, want to talk about our father, about our home, about how grandpa’s love has reshaped the family and a lot more. And we deserve to start writing about these things from now. In addition, the earth wants to hear our respective distinctive stories, and our skills should be crafted in that regard.
Q: Any parting remark?
A: Poetry will someday rule the world, Babishai. We are the process.
Thank you Babishai!
Read the other shortlisted poets here:
BABISHAI 2018 SHORTLIST
Our poetry festival is scheduled for 3-6 August at Sipi Falls in Kapchorwa, followed by Mbale. Join us, won't you? Call +256 751 703226