Please introduce yourself, where are you from? Age and your educational background?
My name is Titilayooluwa Mabogunje and I am a Nigerian citizen. However, I was born in England. I am 16 years old and in my final year of Secondary School.
What does poetry mean to you?
Poetry is so many things. It is a powerful means of expression to a large crowd or a small audience. It is also something I find myself doing unconsciously when I am alone.
What lead you to poetry and what made you transit from writing poetry to performing poetry/ spoken word?
My coordinator in the teenagers’ church in House on the Rock, Atilola Moronfolu, exposed me to spoken word. When I saw that recited poetry could be more dramatic and expressive, I could not resist spoken word. It makes written poetry much more effective and passes the message to a greater number of people. Also, the confidence to perform helped me transit from writing poems to performing them.
I was standing outside in my garden one day, looking at some trees and a sunset. Part of me wanted to stay and watch it, but the other part made my hand twitch looking for something to write on. I just had to write a poem.
You were the winner of the maiden War Of Words (Slam Poetry Competition) organized by i2X Media in June 2013, did you enter knowing you will win? How did you feel when you were declared the winner?
I absolutely did not expect to win. In fact, I sent my audition tape doubting I would be shortlisted into the competition. I was amazed and dumb-founded when I won. I was and still am truly grateful to God who gave me the gift of poetry.
How have your life and/or your relationship with poetry changed since you started performing?
When I first started writing, I would write a few lines and then stop. Poetry has helped me build what I call ‘writing stamina’. I can certainly write much longer poems than I used to since I started performing. I have become bolder and can interact with people more easily.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have when you want to perform?
Before a performance, I practice, practice, practice. It makes me more confident that I will not forget or mix up my lines. However, I don’t practice too much, or I loose feeling for the piece.
What types of poems do you find yourself writing most? Do you have a recurring type?
I write poems that bring hope in the situation I find myself in. It helps me focus on the positive(s) and work towards it.
Which one is better, writing poetry or performing poetry, and why?
For me, performing poetry is better because after practicing and memorizing your lines, all that is left is delivery. One does not have to go through the tedious process of finding rhymes or overcoming writers’ block. When performing, one directly addresses the audience and can touch them.
Poets tend to have favorite poets they like to read or watch often, can you name yours and why you like them?
I like Ezekiel from the ‘Passion for Christ Movement’ (P4CM) because of his style and expression. I like the rhyming words he uses that one would not normally match together and his technique of alluding to different things. He creates imagery and makes the message clear and easy to understand.
I strongly like poetry. However, I do not wish to make it a full-time job. This is mainly because I have other career interests. Also, poetry is a bit unpredictable and is sometimes hard to come up with.
Where do you see Spoken Word Poetry in Nigeria 5 years from now? And where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
There is so much potential for poetry in Nigeria and I think in 5 years, when spoken word poetry has spread, there will be a lot more artists and it will be used for advertisements, news, and maybe even politics. I really think the Spoken Word industry will grow quite rapidly. And 5 years from now, I will probably be in the University, but I will still be writing poems and perhaps, performing them.
If you were given the opportunity to perform anywhere you wanted, what cities or countries would definitely be on your poetry tour?
I would like to go to places with scenic attractions such as the Niagara Falls, Canada to get inspiration.
Any other information (maybe personal things you would want to share with us).
I encourage everyone who has an interest in poetry to start writing, recording and performing their own poems. You will get better and better the more you practice, and like I was, you might be shocked how far it can go.