To resume EGC Poets of the week run for year 2015, EGC caught up with London returnee, Elizabeth Adeola Ayoola. I bet some of you will remember that lady with a sexy voice who almost won the star prize at EKO Poetry slam 2014 but eventually came second. We had a fantastic interview about her, her poetry, and Nigerian Poetry scene.
Here is an excerpt from her responses: “Poetry is not new to Nigeria it was very popular in Yoruba culture. However I feel the key to making it more accepted and thrust it out of the niche category is to keep it indigenous and make it relatable, something the masses can understand. People don't tend to like poetry because they find it complicated and boring. I also think Nigerian poets should be more unified as we are still a growing community and hopefully have similar objectives for poetry in Nigeria.”
EGC: Hi Elizabeth. Please introduce yourself.
Elizabeth: Hi there. I'm Elizabeth Adeola Ayoola. I'm a writer, spoken word performer and presenter.
EGC: Tell us about what u do apart from poetry.
Elizabeth: Aside from poetry I work at Connect Nigeria as a presenter. I interview entrepreneurs and cover events. I also just launched a Spoken Word website www.oro.com.ng
I also manage a blog www.themelodiesofajjc.com where I talk about my experiences moving back to and living in Nigeria
EGC: Tell us about places and events you have performed poetry.
Elizabeth: I have performed poetry mostly in London at numerous events ranging from church events, musical concerts, poetry events, youth events, weddings, birthday parties and corporate events.
EGC: Can you compare how poetry is acceptability-wise & dexterity-wise in Nigeria & UK?
Elizabeth: we all know poetry is most popular in the US however it has also become ubiquitous in the UK. There are several places to perform as well as events. They are also even holding poetry workshops in schools. In Nigeria it is not so popular or rather people haven't found how they can relate with the art form and there are few platforms to perform although it's expanding.
EGC: Which of your performance is your most memorable one?
Elizabeth: My most memorable performance was at a night club in London. I performed 'his blood cries out' which is a poem about gun violence told in a narrative way. It was my favorite because I feared nobody would listen as it was in a night club. However everybody did and it went silent once I started reciting.
EGC: Do you write and perform? Which of the two do you think is more effective in passing your message to your audience?
Elizabeth: I write and perform I feel both are effective however I am a strong performer and love interacting with audiences. I like people to feel my words as I communicate them verbally.
Elizabeth: My favourite poets right now are Shayne Koyczan as his message is direct and he deals with current issues everyday people can relate with. I also love how he infuses music into his spoken word. I also love Suli Speaks as he has managed to do the same and his messages appeal to eclectic audiences.
EGC: Do you consider yourself to be an established poet or an upcoming poet. Please give reason for your answer.
Elizabeth: I'm definitely up and coming as my message and work isn't pervasive yet.
EGC: Is there any poet(s) you consider to be friends/allies on the poetry scene?
Elizabeth: Sure I have quite few. Through networking I've met lots of talented poets such as Uche Uwadinachi, Razaq Ivori, Tope Sadiq, and few others.
EGC: What would you say on development of poetry in Nigeria?
Elizabeth: Poetry is not new to Nigeria, it was very popular in Yoruba culture. However I feel the key to making it more accepted and thrust it out of the niche category is to keep it indigenous and make it relatable, something the masses can understand. People don't tend to like poetry because they find it complicated and boring. I also think Nigerian poets should be more unified as we are still a growing community and hopefully have similar objectives for poetry in Nigeria.
EGC: You came second in Eko Poetry slam held November 2014, how does it feel like being second in a slam?
Elizabeth: I was surprised. I didn't think people would relate with my content as much as they did with others seeing most of my work addresses social issues abroad. I was happy people were receptive of what I had to say.
EGC: Have you been in other Slams? What do you think those who don't enter for slams are missing?
Elizabeth: That was my first slam!
EGC: Any message for Poets coming behind you?
Elizabeth: My advice is firstly on the more pragmatic side. Perform and share you work on as many platforms as possible, network with our poets and writers. My last advice is stay true to your voice. Find a message, find what you stand for and stay true to it. Express it in as many words as possible but make sure your poetry reflects who you are. Poetry is more than a performance, it's a life.
What would you say you stand for as a poet?
Elizabeth: I stand for freedom. I had to first define what freedom meant to me and then I learnt to do whatever it is that makes me free. I stand for liberty in every dimension and I believe in never allowing anything to hold you captive. I stand for the journey to finding self and compassion for everyone, for we are all on the same journey just taking different paths.
EGC: Thank you for your time Elizabeth.
EGC: Thank you for your time Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Any time!!!