1. Lets meet you; Name, Nationality, Family background, Educational background etc.
My Name is Philip Asaya , I am a Nigerian from a Christian family background. I studied Mechanical Engineering. I’m a lover of good movies and music as well as history and I love to imagine; yes, imagination is a very beautiful part of my weirdness.
2. As a Benin Boy, why do you consider yourself a Poet? What were your early influences that inspired you to become a Poet?
I found out that I had been gifted with the raw skill of merging words together so beautifully, they could make the reader or listener feel exactly what the depth of me was trying to communicate. I had always wanted to decline that title “poet” but it seems the water can never run away from its wetness and so here I am today… Philip Asaya your “poet”.
I should say I stumbled in on spoken word poetry… see there was this longing to express myself. Back then I had all these very beautiful scripts I had written for my drama unit in church, but for some reasons of personal interest the director would decline my work with undue criticisms, I felt pained piling them all up not having a means for expression. One day while at my office a friend showed me a video clip of Ezekiel Azonwo’s “almost” a spoken word poetry stage performance… then it clicked! Right there I knew I could do this and so the conversion of all my rejected scripts to poems started and voila! Spoken word poetry began.
3. What do you like about poetry? At what age and where did you first perform your poem?
I tell people that poetry seems to be the only art form that still thrives perfectly on pure truth and thanks to spoken word poetry, we with it have been able to show the fluidity and rawness of poetry. This is why I love the art.
I would say my first poem (spoken word) was performed in the year 2010 and it was done in my church at that time.
4. Tell us about poetry in Benin and the poetry platforms there. How is Spoken Word Poetry perceived in Benin? How many people attend your events? What is your perception of poetry in Lagos (as compared to Benin)?
In Benin today, I’d say the love and skill in the art of poetry seems to be increasing by the week. There are so many poets emerging and the acceptance of the art form by the people here is great. We have platforms like SIO (Say It Out) and LAY (Love and You) both spoken word poetry events which are organized by TMM (The Mannequin mode) and it’s doing a lot in bringing the best of spoken word poetry to the people of Benin.
Like I earlier said the acceptance for the art form here is very well impressive, for example S.I.O 2014 and 2015 recorded an average of a thousand people in attendance now that’s huge for something that’s just starting, and I believe it’s because the people seem to enjoy what they getting from the poets… They love it.
We i.e. TMM organize two main events yearly they are SIO (Say It Out) and LAY (Love and You)… in all we have had two years of showcasing this event with SIO recording an average of one thousand people in attendance. It will shock you to know that Benin seems to be soaring higher when it comes to spoken word poetry when compared to Lagos… I can say this because I am on both platforms. I think Lagos has the money, but Benin… has got the people.
5. You are perceived as a Christian Poet, has this always been the case? If yes, do you do non-Christian themes? If no, can you do non-Christian themes?
Lol, I am not a Christian poet I am simply a poet… most of my hit poems have nothing to do with religion for example “from the lips of the silent ones”, “blame it” and the likes of others. No doubt I do poems that talk about Jesus Christ and God this is because I see this as the perfect remedy for humanity. But I also think when raw truth is spoken people just tend to take it as being religious, and you can’t blame them cause I like most people see no truth outside God and his son Jesus Christ. And yes I can do non-Christian themes too as long as truth through it is spoken. But note there is no truth outside God. Confusing?
6. Do you sit down and think about writing, or do you just get sudden inspirations? Which emotion(s) drives your poetry the most?
It is sudden inspiration most of the time. There is so much chaos in the world today and the search for direction and answers are the emotions that drive my writing.
7. The information you use to write poems, is it based on personal experience or other things such as facts?
My poems come from truisms and basic day to day realities and most of them aren’t mine… they are mostly things I have seen, facts I have gathered and inspirations I have brood my thoughts into. But I feel poetry becomes more powerful when it is 100% you… now I may be wrong, but that still remains my philosophy, lol.
8. Do any of the artists/ poets you listen to inspire your poems? Who are your favourite poets, both locally and internationally?
Poets that have caught my attention locally are ThinkingPen , Ibrahim, (who are both TMM’s finest) and Titilope Sonuga, the lady is simply beautiful on stage. Internationally I’d say Jenetiks; this woman’s passion and power oozing out on stage when she performs could almost be felt with the palm of your hand outstretch in the air. Her conviction in every word is heard when from her mouth she lets them fly like skilled birds of truth navigating against the winds of lies all the way to nesting in your heart. I think you should listen to her if you haven’t.
9. On the average, how long does it take you to write a poem? What part of poetry do you like the most, writing or performing? How long does it take you to memorize your poems and what helps you in memorizing it?
One of my hit poems (from the lips of the silent ones) took me just 45mins to write, and note that, it was a purpose driven and 100% deliberate poem. I just had to share this because to me that was a testimony considering the length and depth of words used. But on the average it takes me like an hour and half for a good poem then maybe 30mins for “just by the way” poems. And then for the outstanding poems that are purpose driven and a 100% deliberate, now these types would take a day or more.
Each of my poems have their specific beauty for the relish… But I always love to see the stages of preparing beautiful spoken word poetry as a project and the most exciting part is the exhibition a perfectly executed project, right? And that’s the same for me.
I’d say for perfection; a week sometimes less, it all depends on the length… and for skills for memorizing them; I’d say taking long walks with these legs to distances with no end.
10. Do you have one poem that you almost did not perform due to it being so very personal? Did you perform it after all? If so, please tell us about it.
Not really I almost do not think I’d be ashamed to show my skeletons to the world especially when I have the opportunity of dressing them up in the very see through dresses of poetry. I’d be always ready let them to hit the runway and in the process allow others with such the freedom to let lose theirs too, because like they say when you talk in the open about a taboo it no longer becomes a taboo… and problems my dear friend, can only be solved when you first speak to them.
11. How many events have you performed at and where? Which one is your biggest platform till date? Which other platforms do you hope/ plan to perform on in the nearest future?
Spoken word poetry in Nigeria has not overly mature for true huge platforms, so I had to create mine. I am the president and founder of TMM (The Mannequin Mode) we have got in this organisation some of the best poets in Nigeria and we are the organizer of S.I.O (Say It Out), which is arguably the biggest spoken word poetry event in Nigeria with an average of a thousand attendees each year since its inception in the year 2014. To me I’d say that’s the biggest platform I have performed on and the biggest platform any Nigerian poet may boast to have performed on, what do you think?
I would like to see myself on Rhetoric and TED that to me would be a dream come true.
12. If you were given $1 million to grow Spoken Word Poetry in Nigeria, what would you do? Please give details up to the last kobo.
I may not be able to call out the exact price for each and everything but one thing I can do is give you the idea.
First we harvest the best of the best in the art, ones that would keep the audience standing on their feet all through the length of their speech. I can’t emphasize more how important this first part is.
Next we plan the biggest spoken word poetry event with all the glamour of sweet ambience that makes every event outstanding; I’m talking about good lighting, the best sound, the best stage, etc. The ambience should not be any different from any world class event…
Do the best publicity possible and I’m not talking about local TV stations alone, I’m talking about cable TV, go all out. And make sure the venue is full to the roof
Next we invite the ones who control the money, lots of them, make them your special guests, I’m talking about heads of corporate industries, leaders, heads of entertainment industries the movers and “the mover’s movers”
Make sure everyone has a good time this is where good performance comes in; make them have a good time, so good that in the end they tell you they want to be a part of it tomorrow.
And then the rest they say is history.
13. 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? What advice do you have for young people who want to be poets today?
Around the world, speaking to continents and the humble man on the street. Fact is, with the rate at which we going spoken word poetry in Nigeria is about to become the next big thing. I see endorsement deals, I see mentorship, I see words changing hearts and redefining our society.
Read, read more, listen to great poems from great artistes, observe a lot and most of all listen to everything that makes a sound with the purest of heart.
14. Is there any link, blog or site people can go to to read your writings/ poems?
You could get some of my poems on our facebook page Mannequin Mode.
Here are some of my direct links and the poem titles too
http://bit.ly/1bMtp5R from the lips of the silent ones
http://bit.ly/1aS7opw Blame It
http://bit.ly/XfmsDq I love you
15. Any other information you would want us to know about, maybe something personal?
Love is the only thing that can solve this madness that’s plaguing humanity, love for one another, so let’s love today.
Thank you for your time.