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Iquo DianaAbasi: If all poets were like me, maybe poets would make better lovers.


1. Lets meet you; Name, Nationality, Family background, Educational background etc
My name is Iquo DianaAbasi Eke. I’m a Nigerian; from Akwa-Ibom State. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Industrial relations and human resource management, from the Lagos state university.

2. Tell us about your performance poetry journey – how it started? Where and when? What made you see yourself as a poet?
I performed poetry for the first time at a place called ‘Jazzville’, in Yaba Lagos, in 2004. The event was Word and Sound, as organised by Segun Akinlolu, aka Beautiful Nubia.

3. You are a published poet/ writer, how many books have you published? What made you feel the need to publish? How has been the reaction/ outcome in terms of acceptability of your book(s) and the level of sales?
I have one published collection of poetry, ‘Symphony of Becoming’, published in 2013. I decide to publish my poetry because after having performed poetry in a couple of places, and over some years, I felt it was high time I made the poems available in book form; so that people who were interested could engage with the poems whether I was present or not. So I got some poems together which told a cohesive tale of becoming.

4. You have performed poetry over the years. What was your most memorable poetry performance and why? What are the benefits you have derived from poetry over the years?
Most memorable poetry performance…? I’m not sure that I have one most memorable performance; reason being, I look forward to each performance with excitement and some amount of pleasure. I hope to give my best each time as every audience has its unique feel.
Benefits I have derived from poetry would include exposure, sense of fulfilment/purpose, Money, and a chance to mentor/spur younger writers

5. Do you sometimes get frustrated when you are writing? Do you get nervous when you are about to perform your poem? What ritual/ habit do you engage in before you perform?

I sometimes do get frustrated when I write; it could be that some part of the poem gets elusive or that I can’t find the words to properly express am idea or thought. Or I may have written a poem that I’m not satisfied with but subsequent visits to the work usually rectifies this.

Yes, I get nervous before EVERY performance.

My pre-performance rituals would include rehearsing my lines again and again, practicing the folksongs that would accompany the poem(s), and of course reminding myself to breathe calmly before I get on the stage – last words to self as I step on stage: I’m there to have fun!

DianaAbasi6. What does Poetry have in common to business? Can performance poetry become a recognised industry in Nigeria? If yes, how?
Performance poetry is an art, and I think the one thing that art has in common with business is that it can become an endeavour that makes money. How? I believe that if properly packaged, poetry can become a viable business, just like music and comedy. I think over time if we keep improving our art, make it more fun and engaging; then it will become easier to get corporate funding for performance poetry events.

7. What are the benefits of poetry to education, brands and the society?
At the heart of poetry is the ability to condense ideas into words that strike different meanings and emotional reactions within one’s readers and listeners. The ability to do this in itself is a big step in the education of a child; opening the mind to imagination and the different horizons that a poets words take one to. For brands, I’m sure those who do advertising will agree with me that the most effective copy-writing is done with some principles of poetry- few words to create a lasting image/imagery/impression. Society in turn benefits from the questions, assurance, motivation and reflections which poetry demands of and bequeaths the reader or listener.

8. Do poets make better lovers? Should poets marry each other?
If all poets were like me, then maybe I would agree that poets make better lovers (lol). But poets are human too, they can cause their beloved pain and anguish. They can be unfaithful, and they break hearts too – not necessarily because they are poets, but because they are human.
On whether poets should marry each other… I think there is no hard and fast rule to this thing called love and marriage. A poet should simply marry anyone who can understand him/her, and can make room for their excesses. If this person happens to be a fellow poet, all the better for the shared values they would likely have.

9. What is the colour of poetry? Please explain why you chose the colour.
I’m not aware that poetry has one colour. In my mind poetry has several colours—like the rainbow, and then some more colours to accommodate the different moods and hues that strive for expression in poetry. Thus poetry could be the orange of the sun setting in the backwaters, or the gray-black of a full moon, or red hot anger, the light blue of the skies or the blue green of the seas surging at full tide…

10. What three words do you use frequently in your poems? What three words do you hardly use in your poems?
I do not have particular words that I set out not to use in my poetry, but I recall that in my poetry collection, my editor did point out the word ‘Crescendo’, although I must add that that is a word I would rarely use now. A reviewer also pointed out other words that appeared often in that collection as ‘Rage’ and ‘Inferno’. Again, I am not certain that these words would take prominence in the poetry I write now.

11. Which emotion(s) greatly influences your poetry? How and why do you channel it into poetry?
Emotions which greatly influence my poetry are Pain, Helplessness, Love and Hope.

12. Where do you see Performance poetry/ Spoken Word in Nigeria in the next 5 years? Where do you see yourself (as regards Poetry) in the next 5 years?
I see giant leaps for Performance poetry in the next 5 years. I see many more poetry events being organised; with better structure and funding. I also see more young poets coming into their own— honing and owning their craft, and not merely emulating the tropes and styles of others.

DianaAbasi Performing 3
13. What advice do you have for young people who want to be poets today? What do you think is the best way into a poetic state of mind for people who are new to the craft? Can you give us some suggestions to increase students’ interest in reading, writing and performing Poetry?
The best way into a poetic state of mind for people who are new to the craft would include steps such as reading more— especially poetry from different generations and writers of different backgrounds. I would also encourage them to pay attention to the minute details of things around them; there’s nothing within which poetry cannot be seen. It could also help to attend poetry events, watch performances, and also join poetry groups who critic members’ work, honestly. Lastly, I would ask them to write, write and write – only with continuous practice do the craft get better.

14. Is there any link, blog or site people can go to to read your writings/ poems?
Links to read/listen to my works are:

Spotlight – Iquo DianaAbasi Eke Presents: Symphony Of Becoming

Thank you for your time.

Thank you for having me.

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