OUR POETRY ARCHIVE FEATURED
POET OF THE MONTH
SILAS OLA ABAYOMI
OPA How long have you been writing Poetry? We would like to know the early stories about your growing up as a poet or writer in general. Who are your favorite Poets? What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write? Had they inspired you a lot, do you believe in inspiration as a guiding force behind writings at all?
SILAS I have been writing for over thirty years; I grew up among family members who were and still writers, my teacher-brothers fired my imagination, they honed my writing skills in those formative years. When growing up, my older brothers would give me books to read, asked me to summarize. Later, they would give me wide range of topics to write about, which they would assess and critique. In fact, their drilling skills helped me so much that when I got to college, I had already known the ABC of writing, the troika-Accuracy, Brevity, and Clarity upon which writing anchor.
I have so many favorite poets within and outside Africa;
Primarily, I love William Shakespeare, Thomas Wyatt, John Clare, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Mukoma wa Ngugi, Christopher Okigbo, and Niyi Osundare. Interestingly, the literary work of these great poets have continued to inspire and to influence my work to this day.
My favorite genres include but not limited to Historical Fiction, Romance, Memoir, Poetry, True Crime, Adventure, Comedy, Political History, and Science Fiction.
OPA What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you write? What has been the strangest thing that a reader has asked you?
SILAS As a writer, the toughest criticism came with rejection of a major work three or four times because reviewers and publishers thought “too political.” when you live in a politically volatile environment, writers, publishers, vendors, photographers are always at the risk of state suppression. However, these few occasions of rejection, the so-called “stumbling block” literary work turned “stepping stone” elsewhere. The rejected literary writing became literary trajectory that launched me on international scene. Since becoming a poet whose works are read globally, my work’s acceptance rate has continued to grow; I have mentored many young writers, among those that had asked me-why making poetry out of public issues?
OPA What is your favorite poem you have ever written? Compared to when you first started writing, have you notice any big changes in your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?
SILAS As of today, I have over three hundred poems, several short stories, and a book; to me, I love these pieces; nevertheless, this poem: “The Golden Mother” stands out. The work had reached over 600,000 readers worldwide, and many more accessing it. It is a work dedicated to all mothers around the globe for their sacrifices, services, and care from home front to secular commitments.
No doubt, my work has witnessed significant changes over the years; at the start, I could only write few lines of poetry, a sonnet of fourteen lines; limerick of five lines. In the past, most of my writings always follow same pattern of style- rhythm, alliteration, meter (using dimeter/two feet, trimester/three feet, and tetrameter/four feet) and onomatopoeia. As time progressed, I became proficient in many styles: ballad, blank verse, couplet, elegy, epic, free verse, idyll, lyric, ode, and narrative. Today, I explore different styles in my writings, I use single or multiple styles in a piece; more important, I had transited from a-few-line-poet to a-many-line-writer.
OPA What has been your favorite part of being a poet or and author? What has been your least favorite?
SILAS As a poet, I have used poetry to reach hundreds of thousands with several socio-cultural, economic and political messages; more significantly, I have continuously used poetry as a change agent through awareness creation. From time to time, I use poetry to educate, instruct, and to set agenda on public issues, which policy formulators have always found very useful.
As an author, I have set a new bar for what poetry and literature should be in 21st and beyond. By means of my new book “The Watchnight Songs” published in 2014, I have revolutionized Poetry and Literature through innovations ever known in poetry and literature. Now one can visualize poetry, one can “see” and “feel” poetry by means of full-color pictures. For decades and centuries, poetry had been presented with only material contents of single or multiple messages, and in most cases, interpretations highly subjective, even when figures of speech are or were applied to locate the meaning.
Today, poems come with full-color pictures, which make interpretations and meanings of literary works ease to discern.
In addition, the book has created a paradigm shift by using Poetry not only as a language, that is, flowery expression, but also as a medium of communication, like the five popular traditional media that perfection same functions of informing, surveillance, educate, transmission of culture, entertaining, set agenda, and socialization.
On the other hand, I see poetry still far behind compared with other disciplines, even though, poetry and literature have been around for thousands of years. I believe with time, poetry will catch up and out run other disciplines.
OPA Did you get to quit your day job and become a writer and or author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it?
SILAS No, I haven’t left my job, rather my job-as a teacher synchronizes with writing, as both are conjoined twins. They are related, in fact, one would say, they are inseparable twins.
OPA Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do? What genre are you most looking forward to explore during your writing career? Why?
SILAS I love photography, perhaps, one may say-reading, writing, and photography complete the cycle of knowledge. If you read without writing, information gathered during reading may be lost, if you read, write, and no pictures or images to etch or inscribe information permanently in mind, the vast knowledge from reading and writing will be lost forever.
Over the years, I have come to like narrative poetry, which is a version verbal representation of event in a sequential way; more so, it helps in relating both historical and political events more than news reporting. In addition, I like epic, descriptive, and elegy poetry.
OPA: Do you think literature or poetry is really essential in our life? If so why? How does it relate to the general history of mankind?
SILAS Both poetry and literature are very important because they are the routes to understand how “language and symbol systems work”; with powerful means of expression-deep feelings, emotions, and aesthetics-poetry and literature convey thoughts imaginatively; more so, through poetry, according to Fareed Siddiqui, “creeds and system of human values are discussed that a reader may ultimately be enlightened and rejoice.”
Poetry is a source of inspiration, it connects people with their past. Poems like Ballard, Epic, Narratives, Descriptive, Ode, Epigram, Epitaph, Idyll, Lay, and List have one thing in common-they are reminiscence of past or present events preserved for the future generations to learn.
OPA Our readers would like to know your own personal experience regarding the importance of literature and poetry in your life.
SILAS Poetry has shaped my personality in many ways, it has enhanced my thinking ability, makes me more compassionate about life, gives me the analytical mind to look at issue thoroughly.
OPA Do you think people in general actually bother about literature in general? Do you think this consumerist world is turning the average man away from serious literature?
SILAS There is no doubt, people that are thirsty for knowledge care about poetry and literature; even though, today’s world is shifting from a traditional setting to a more science controlled world by means of technology and information, regardless, literature will still have a role, because it anchors on language, and by extension, medium of communication.
OPA Do you think society, as a whole, has a factor in shaping you as a poet, or your poetry altogether?
SILAS Yes, society does, because everyone is a product of a society. Through, culture, education, religion, social values, and human society influence people they raised. From pass-on culture, a poet is raised; from society’s education system, a poet is trained and groomed; from society’s religious beliefs and creeds-a poet is nurtured and reared.
Because of this development, in most, if not in all cases, these factors shape and mold poets, more so, influence what they write.
Although, foreign influence, international exposure through books, education, travel, and adventure may create a new vista or spectacle; nevertheless, poet’s immediate culture or environment has a powerful impact on its work.
OPA We would also like to know; How do you relate the present literary trends with the literary heritage of your own country?
SILAS In the last century-the world of humankind was called “Global Village,” but today, the same world is addressed “neighborhood.” This explains how close humans are by means of telecommunication. With social media, twenty-four-hour-news-reporting, international flights, globalization, political, economic and social alliances among humanity-there will be integration among people, poets inclusive, because we live in global village with similar goals and aspirations.
In addition, human needs, wants and desires are same, regardless of where they live; more important, humans have three common enemies: politicians, big businesses, and organized religions-poets will continue to relate with one another on a global scene by exposing aggressors and educating the victims.
Through electronic books and search engines, local poets will continue to relate with fellow poets around the world, creating similar messages for similar problems for different audiences against common enemies.
OPA Do you support feminisms? Can literature play any decisive role in feminism at all?
SILAS Yes, I do. Literature can play decisive role in promoting women’s rights; just as poetry can become a strong medium to advance equal treatment for women.
OPA Do you believe that all writers are by and large the product of their nationality? Is it an incentive or an obstacle in becoming an international writer?
SILAS Yes, I strongly believe that poets are product of their nationality because poets are molded by nation’s collective elements: culture, education, and religion, and political orientation, social and economic ideologies.
OPA What 7 words would you use to describe yourself?
SILAS is an easy going and intellectually engaging man.
OPA Is there anything else that you would like to share or say to those who will read this interview?
SILAS I want to thank the several thousand readers of my writings that had appeared on this platform; more so, those that had commented on my works severally. I have drawn great inspiration from these comments, and I am humbled by your kind words.
The editorial staff of this project: Deborah Brooks Langford, Stacia Lynn Reynolds; sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.