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The answer is simple: to survive. As Lucille Clifton said in her poem won’t you celebrate with me:
something has tried to kill me
& has failed
The good thing about a poem is that it owns the reader. Takes hold of reality & spreads itself onto the film of memory. This is why in reading this excerpt of Lucille’s poem, I see the self. A tiny dot of light, flickering in the face of all that has tried to kill me. Being mentally ill (diagnosed with clinical depression & others), the thing that tries to kill me most often is the self, & to survive, I had to learn to hold a pen instead of a knife.
The logic of survival is finding salvation in language. To peel a verb open, & find warmth. To name the grief, & strip it of ambiguity. To fillip memory with adjectives. To make of sentences bullets, for the annihilation of a disease [or the embalming of the body]. It is in writing that we find that the light at the end of the tunnel is a mirror: we are all that shines. Words make us gleam. You measure a man’s happiness by his words.
Tomi Adesina is a screenwriter, author and fiction series blogger. In 2013 she won the Nigerian Blog Awards for her blog fiction series, and in 2015 her screenplay on cyberbullying (Feisty John) won the Homevida Prize. She also won the Nigerian Writers Award for Best Young Writer in 2015, and her short stories have been featured in magazines across Africa. Tomi was also an AMVCA nominee for best writer in 2018 and bagged the AMAA award for best screenplay for her contribution to Hakkunde. She lives in Lagos. Her other works can be found on her blog at tomiadesina.wordpress.com
KNOWING THE WRITER
Why do you write?
I write to live; literally. I am grateful to God because He has deposited the ability to write in me and with something as beautiful as the love for words, I cannot do any other thing aside writing. I have got so much inside my heart to say and writing is such a beautiful medium of expression. I also enjoy the process of creating, I think it’s fascinating, and writing gives me the ability to do that. So, it’s my thank you.
What personal qualities do you possess that contributes to being an excellent writer and what qualities do you expect other excellent writers to possess?
I am quite organized with my work. As boring as this might sound, I operate on a writing schedule. There is a time allotted to everything I do, and I try to stick to my regime. This helps with timely deliveries.
What causes are you passionate about? If any.
Just for fun: Black or Blue Pen to write?
Your writing is very distinguishable, however, do you care about distinguishing yourself with your writing and if yes, how are you choosing to do so? What about your writing do you think stands out the most?
I don’t think I have ever worried about distinguishing myself. I think it boils down to the honesty in the words and this is what makes a case for me.
What career field do you work in?
I work as a screenwriter.
Who are your favorite Nigerian writers? (Mention up to 5)
Ayobami Adebayo, Tunde Leye
What are your favorite Nigerian books? (Mention up to 5)
Stay with Me, Golden Sands
BOOK REVIEW: “George’s Pieces of Me” by Tomi Adesina
TITLE: George’s Pieces of Me
AUTHOR: Tomi Adesina
GENRE: Poetry and short stories
NUMBER OF PAGES: 75
PUBLISHER: Woworx Limited
DATE OF PUBLICATION: August 8, 2017
REVIEWER: Shoola Oyindamola
Ever since I encountered Tolu Akinyemi’s books, especially You Father Works Like a Crab and Seun Lari William’s Garri for Breakfast, I have been intrigued by the use of poetry to tell stories. When people think of poetry, it is easy to only think of it as art that proposes an idea or a concept rather than tell stories.
Relatively, I have many memories of my grandmother singing folk songs to my sister and I, when we sat at the staircase to the house entrance in the evenings. She would give us Egunje (meaning candy) and even when she told folk tales, or when my mother read from a Yoruba folklore textbook to us, in between, they voiced songs that said part of the stories.
The poetry in Tomi Adesina’s George’s Pieces of Me took me home. Unlike in many anthologies with disconnected poems, using 19 pages of Book 1 in George’s Pieces of Me, Tomi tells the story of a lover right from birth, through loss and to death.
A few days ago, I tweeted some quotes, and one particularly left me in awe: “We are surrounded by stories, find yours and write them.” That was just it. It seemed easier with the eye, but the heart wouldn’t find it easy particularly, for writers who are not familiar with the aesthetics, and nuances of the prose-fiction genre.
In response, an excellent friend and budding writer, Oluchi sent a DM: “I have so many happenings around me, but I don’t know how to pen them down.” From her words, I realized that for many fiction writers; the problem wasn’t with writing: to pen the first draft of their story but, turning many chunks of personal experiences into fiction.
I promised to write and I did try. I swear I tried with every kind of night - the blue one, the dancing one, the one that's so handsy. I tried with the mornings too, all of the mornings - the empty one, the repentant one, all of them. I tried but the thread was either too short, or the needle did not have an eye.
But I am here now, writing, after many runaway words I am here, writing, as I said I would.
2019 SLM Poetry Contest Winner will be announced on August 1, 2019.
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