As a young poet, especially as a Nigerian, it’s not easy to decide if writing/poetry is the right path for you. The Circular was delighted when Lagos born, Owolabi Saheed, agreed to an interview.
Here, Owolabi talks about his journey as a young writer. He also shares one of his poems “The Prodigal Her” he believes is a reflection of how he feels for his Beloved Country.
When did you start writing and what do attracted you to poetry or the idea of being a poet?
I started writing when I was 14, there was this girl I liked back then and I did not know how to tell her how I felt so I decided to write her a poem. My very first I called it, “my sea of emotions” I think. Although, I don’t really remember what was written in it anymore.
I was attracted to poetry because, i see it as an art form that speaks to all kinds of people. It was based on an innate ability to put emotions, experiences and even history into words and i guess i just liked that.
How does a poem take form for you ?
Sometimes they are based on things i’ve experienced, other times their just based on how I feel in that moment. In some special cases, they’re based on words or sentences or people that seem to be able to inspire.
What would you say helps you during your writing process?
I’d say music, although I don’t just listen to lyrics and steal off the page, listening to music while I write sometimes helps put an image of what I am writing about in my head. For example, I once used Alessia Cara’s Overdose to write a poem based on depression after a heartbreak.
What poets or poems most inspire you or have Inspired previous work ? Whose work would you recommend with regard to contemporary poetry? What are you reading at the moment?
I’d say Ijeoma Umebinyuo, a writer whom I only recently started following a beautiful female writer who does plain justice to contemporary poetry. I would recommend her collection “Questions For Ada“. Although I am more interested in slam poetry (a poetic vantage point which I am trying to attain) some people would argue its not really an accepted form of poetry. I’m currently reading a book titled ‘The Poet X’ by “Elizabeth Acevedo” a Dominican American poet.
Do you have a process or location where you like to write?
Anywhere is just fine honestly as far as there’s something to spark the series of thoughts leading to the write up of a poem.
Are you a traditional paper and pen writer or do you go straight for the keyboard when you have a new idea?
Deciding between traditional or modern is rather a cliche to me, although the pen and paper are the better choices. I just find it rather hard sometimes re-typing what I’d only just written.
With reference to Nigeria, how has it influenced or effected you?
My country’s influence on me is rather undecided. If I was in dire need of a choice I’d say it’s has damaged me and helped me grow. A little bit of the former to elevate the latter I guess.
What were your feelings when you wrote about your favourite Poem “The Prodigal Her”?
All I could think about really was my country’s National anthem describes a country so utterly different from its reality. And then the train of thoughts caught on and I wrote it.