Lets meet you; Name, Nationality, Family background, Educational background
‘Dolapo Ogunwale. Nigerian.Second born of two siblings. The first born is male. BSc Economics.
Do you consider yourself a Poet? What inspired you to become a Poet?
Yes. Going on a Def Jam Poetry binge. I was hooked.
How old were you when you wrote your first poem? How old were you when you first performed your poem?
14 years old. Same age.
What was your childhood like – did you enjoy reading and writing poetry as a kid? What books did you read growing up? and what kind of books do you read now? Any favourite author and why?
As a child I hadn’t realized the power of poetry. I thought poems were jumbled up words you didn’t understand but pretended to.
Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree was my favourite book.
I now read Nigerian authors mainly, because I specially relate to the language.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is my favourite at the moment. I love how easily she places the reader into a scene. Everything is so vivid and aptly described. Her characters are so well rounded. Her books are thoroughly researched.
The information you use to write poems, is it based on personal experience or other things such as facts?
Personal experiences, realized thoughts and radical ideas.
What is the most difficult poem you have written? Is it your favorite? Which poem has been your most popular?
It’s called, The Love Network. I was given barely a few hours to write an impressive spoken word piece for a telecommunication company. I delivered.
Prick! has been most popular.
What inspired you to write “Prick?” Have you ever been a victim of a violent or abusive relationship? If yes, please share the experience.
A friend, Eva, asked me to write a piece on domestic violence for an event so I drew from experience and imagination.
I was much younger than him and he put unrealistic expectations on me. After we broke up, it took four years to get his voice out of my head.
Should Spoken Word Poetry be mainstream entertainment?
Yes. The beauty of words is that they can be coined for any purpose, including mainstream entertainment.
Which emotion(s) drives your poetry the most? Why?
Passion. Whether it be lust, resentment, audacity or hope, you will hear passion.
I am a deeply intense individual. I feel things much deeper that most.
Do any of the artists/ poets you listen to inspire your poems? Do you sit down and think about writing, or do you just get sudden inspirations?
Not anyone particularly. Every artist or poet has the potential to inspire me. It could be anything from colourfully strung beads of words, to a single eyebrow flick by a backup singer.
A bit of both. Sometimes I have a topic develop in my head for a while and then suddenly mature enough to put down. Other times words randomly float through my mind and I write them down. If there’s no pen, they’re lost forever.
Who are your favourite poets, both locally and internationally?
Titilope Shonuga. Jeffery Plumbline.WanaWana. Natalie “Floacist” Stewart.AkinfeFatou. Ra Soulspeare.
You were abroad for a while, how is the acceptance level of Performance Poetry/ Spoken Word there as compared to Nigeria? Did you perform there?
Spoken word acceptance depends on where you are. Some places have a significantly buoyant spoken word culture, which developed over a long time. Spoken word awareness is still in it’s infancy in Nigeria. Many people have no idea what it is or that it exists.
Yes I performed to much praise.
What do you like about poetry? On the average, how long does it take you to write a poem? What part of poem writing do you like the most?
The magical ability words have to take you anywhere within and beyond your imagination.
Anywhere from 20 minutes to a month. The intensity of the emotion fuels the velocity of writing. Sometimes I dry out, and either have to re-ignite the emotion or wait for it to come back on its own.
Are you of the school of thought that poetry does not have to rhyme?
Do you get nervous when you are about to perform your poem? What ritual/ habit do you engage in before you perform?
Sometimes, I remind myself of my intention for the poem and concentrate on it, melting away the rest of the room.
Where do you see yourself (as regards Poetry) in the next 5 years? Where do you see Spoken Word Poetry in Nigeria in the next 5 years?
I see myself with published spoken word album(s) and a poetry collection, touring with a band around the world.
I see Nigerian poetry as mainstream entertainment with celebrity poets.
What advice do you have for young people who want to be poets today? How would you encourage the youths of Nigeria to feel comfortable writing poetry as a form of creative expression? Can you give us some suggestions to increase students’ interest in reading and writing vis a vis Poetry?
Be authentic. Never stop learning. Remember always that poetry is first about self expression, before wanting to be heard.
Just start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Write whatever it is you feel and use idioms and adjectives to qualify it. Continue to listen to different styles of delivery and find your own.
People pay attention to things they can relate to. Selected topics and exciting delivery are key to sparking interest.
Is there any link, blog or site people can go to to read your writings/ poems?
www.facebook.com/DolapoOgunwale; Twitter: DolapoOgunwale
Any other information you would want us to know about, maybe something personal?
My birthday’s May 1st.
Thank you for your time.