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An interview with poet Adeeko Ibukun
December 17 , 2014

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wait for years and more, perhaps for ripeness.

Talking about poetry, how do poems come to you? Do you get the entire poem once or follow a thought, rhythm or story.

It is first intangible. A reality you cannot hold. Present. Obvious. Then it appoints you as its source, you couldn’t be really. So the poem is the conversation between you and the presence, most times a compromise. 

It could be a long conversation leading to numerous poems, each poem fighting to be the glimpse, the light caught in a perfect moment. The full poem comes once but is hardly distilled once. 

How then do you know the poem is complete?

I believe now you want to know what the resolve is after the presence (I spoke of earlier) that is the poem is evident. What I have said to my poems is, be, be all you can but please take me along. My poems are not really complete, I believe they are coming to my readers.  I am only grateful to begin the passage of their many journeys.

Who are your influences?

The list is endless. There are numbers of African poets I enjoyed early; Christopher Okigbo, Kofi Awoonor, Wole Soyinka, Okogbeule Wonodi, Tade Ipadeola… Many British poets I started active reading with. T S Eliot’s fluid use of words in wasted land is a great influence. In the last two years, I have been in the company of Reel by George Szirtes. The team of memories was captured by a camera that pays attention to details. The reel rolls gently from the experience of a child to adulthood. It made me see poems as seeing the world in the block letters of metaphors. I try to assimilate the poignancy of John Burnside’s Black cat bone. I pondered some of the lines, carrying them in my bones, piecing them along my realities. Here is a line I kept reciting to myself each time I see my failing country (Nigeria) and how almost everything comes from the grand hand of benefactors and nothing from merit, not even daily bread, I must then recite:

We have too much to gain from the gods, and this is why 

they fail to love us,

turning away, like parents who cannot conceal 

their disappointments, knowing from the first,

that we are doomed, as they are, to stark

momentum…

Neoclassical by John Burnside.

There are many more poets I cannot mention altogether: there is a collage of poets I discovered online and I have from then read all they published online. The list includes Adonis, Paul Adrian, Helen Mort, Vicki Feaver, Judy brown, D Nurkse, Kechi Nomu. I do not think I have spoken about my influences adequately. In a row, they are apostles of some kind of religion I found in art.

You attended the Ake Arts & Books festival, what’s your take on the festival and what were some of your enjoyable moments?

It is really beautiful to have experienced AABF, you see, there is almost a visible glow on each of the moments. I must admit all can’t be said in this conversation. Okey Ndibe and Zukiswa Wanner book chat was rapturous. There was a time I thought the light in the Hall of Fame was graced by their glow. It is also nice to see poetry was given more space this year, including Dami’s reading from his new book ‘Clinical Blues’, Jumoke’s reading from “I am memory’, Paul Afe doing again, with same freshness, ‘this is not a political poem’ and the Kei Miller hypnotizing performance of ‘A Prayer for the Unflummoxed Beaver.’ Still talking about the enjoyable moments, I must talk about my engaging conversations with Su’eddie, Noan, Adeola and Servio, the communion with Amu nnadi beautiful spirit and poetry and lastly, the reunion with my brilliant friends Ope and Gbenga, whose company conclude only mean love. I am glad to see again, Richard, Ayodele and Ibrahim. Hmm, I need to do a story to do justice to this memory, there is too much still left unsaid. 

What Are You Currently Working On?

An anthology of poems. I am exploring vision within the shifting matrix of time and how human experience sits in this matrix and connections are built.

Click here to read 3 poems by Adeeko Ibukun

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