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pHisayo – Poetry is the custodian of the society’s sanity


Lets meet you; Name, Nationality, Family background, Educational background

I was named Lydia Funke Olanrewaju by my parents. That’s what you’ll see on my ‘government documents.’
But I’m yoruba and no legal yoruba child ever managed to escape with just two names. I have several others and one of them is Olufisayo. This name was given to me by my Aunt on my Father’s side.
I am Nigerian, from Aboekuta in Ogun.
I’m a Mass Communication graduate from IMT Enugu.

Do you consider yourself a Poet? What inspired you to become a Poet?

Am I a poet? By my definitions,  and my definition doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s. YES.

Err, I don’t know that I ever came to a conscious decision to become a poet, I just find that I am able to court words and cajole them to get along with other words to suit my purpose. And so I do what comes naturally to me.

How old were you when you wrote your first poem? How old were you when you first performed your poem?

My oldest memory of writing a poem dates back to when I was 8 years old. I called that poem “Anger”. I can barely remember what the Words were, but I definitely remember the title.

I never thought I’d perform poems. I was a very shy child. I’m still a shy woman, but age helps you muzzle Base instincts.

My first performance was at Taruwa, some Four or Five years ago. IMG_2277

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?

My childhood was buried in books of all sorts. I loved drawing, Reading, singing and telling stories. When I started writing I just couldn’t stop. I’d read books and when I didn’t like the way the stories ended, I’d write my own ending. And yes, I loved poetry. Have always loved words.

I read everything, but funny enough, my favourite book to read as a child was the dictionary. I was that intrigued by words and etymology. I burry myself in a dictionary for hours learning words and their usage. Those were my happiest moments.

I rarely find time to read these days to be honest. I hate that. And I’m getting back to my first love gradually. I’m currently reading several books at the same time in tiny sizes. Here’s a list of all of them.

Malcom Gladwell Outliers, the story of success
Malcom Gladwell Blink: the power of thinking without thinking
Jeffrey Archer To cut a long story short
Robin Sharma The monk who sold his Ferrari
Aesops Fables
Kevin Kwan Crazy Rich Asians
And then there’s A cup of soup for writers.
Lol! You can see I’m overdosing on books at the moment.

Any favourite author and why?

I’d say Leon Uris. Because he has never disappointed my mind. I read “The Haj”. Don’t judge my choice til you’ve read that book.

The information you use to write poems, is it based on personal experience or other things such as facts?

Both sometimes. I write from what I’ve felt with any of my Seven senses. I once wrote an ode to Polo club Suya. Go figure. Lol!

How does being an OAP help your poetry? and on the flip side, does poetry help your work as an OAP?

Does it? My poetry is independent of my work. No relationship whatsoever.

Yes it does. I’m a Narrator, the lessons I leaned from writing and experiencing poetry help me be a better OAP.

What is the most difficult poem you have written? Is it your favourite?

Ha! This is a tough one to answer,  because the most difficult was that way because it was/is the most personal. I’ve performed it, and people loved it. Probably because they could sense the rawness of it.

Actually it is not my favourite, it was painful to write, and I just leave it on the shelf and only bring it out for anniversaries. DSC_0832

Which poem has been your most popular? 

The jury is still out on most popular, because I don’t perform the same poems over and over. Guess I should start doing that to gauge popularity.

Should Spoken Word Poetry be mainstream entertainment? 

Never! It is not by its very nature, mainstream. Spoken word is the point where a person stands above himself/herself and all the debris of the immediate in order to find clarity and define a cleaner, clearer path. That’s not a mainstream activity.

Love, Anger, Sadness, Pain, Happiness, fulfillment…which of these emotion(s) drives your poetry the most? And why?

All of them.

Because I am able to feel all of them intensely enough to set them to words when the inspiration dictates.

Do any of the artists/ poets you listen to inspire your poems? 

Yes,  sometimes. Like you hear a song and wish you sang it, or are inspired to write a rebuttal or a complementary piece to honour it. I was once inspire to write a poem after I saw Donna Ogunaike perform one of her pieces.

Do you sit down and think about writing, or do you just get sudden inspirations?

I seldom write consciously. I wait till my Muses are inclined.

Who are your favourite poets, both locally and internationally?

Ha! Loooong list. I enjoy too many local and internationally I won’t start a list that I can fit in this interview.

What do you like about poetry? On the average, how long does it take you to write a poem? 

The Words. The beautiful amazing words.

It depends o. Sometimes a few minutes, a day, or even weeks or months. Depending on how the Muses are feeling.

What part of poem writing do you like the most? 

If I say ‘cajoling the words’ will you box my ears?

What is the role of poetry in the society? What societal problems can poetry be used to solve? 

Poetry is the custodian of the society’s sanity. If there exists just one poet in any society, it means there is hope for that society yet.
If you cannot find at least one poet to speak for any society,  better believe all is lost and that society has lost its humanity.

Poetry is HOPE, it is  FAITH, it is INTELLECT.  As long as these essentials are being nurtured and safeguarded by poetry, other societal problems will be sorted in due course. That’s a very big role that poetry serves, albeit unobtrusively.

You recently performed at WORD UP Volume 9, tell us about your experience at the event.

I loved it. And I loved that I left with a good feeling. It was very much like coming home. I felt I belonged there,  and everyone was a kindred spirit.IMG_2370

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

Yes oooooo. Lol!

No ritual, I just remind myself that I am able. And then I take the big breath of life,  and hope for the best.

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?

That’s the thing. I’m not looking to become a superstar poet. I’m already a poet. Whatever comes from being myself is welcome. Just additional icing on an already perfect cake. I trust I will have a collection of audio and video pieces by that time though.

It will still still be here. And it will be louder and more rewarding.

What advice do you have for young people who want to be poets today?

Do two things. Read and observe, then write and create.

 How would you encourage the youths of Nigeria  to feel comfortable writing poetry as a form of creative expression? 

No one can give what they don’t have. The way to have is to acquire. So spend less time frittering away precious moments. Notice everything, open your self and senses to life so that when living asks you to define life, you would have plenty to say.

Can you give us some suggestions to increase students’ interest in reading and writing vis a vis Poetry?

I’d say the best way to teach is to show, not tell. We must continue to inspire greatness by being great ourselves. Only then can we inspire others to be as great, if not greater than we have become.

Is there any link, blog or site people can go to to read your writings/ poems?

Yes,  I’m owner of:



And https://plus.google.com/102081809913808951219

Any other information you would want us to know about, maybe something personal? 

Yes, I’d like someone to allow the spirit to use them to gift me with an Apple laptop.  My Muses would be very pleased.

Lol. Thank you for your time.

Thank you for the honour.


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