The Moderator of PIN Steps and Steps, Clementina Owumi is our guest for this edition of PIN Literary Interviews. Semilore Kilaso engages her in a conversation about performance poetry, her experiences as a member of PIN and moderator of Steps and Stops, and the relevance of poetry as a genre of literature.
De Solutionist as she is fondly called by loved ones is single and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
- It’s great pleasure having you on this session of PIN Literary Interviews. Please, can we meet you?
My name is Clementina Edore Owumi. I am a performance poet, a certified trichologist and producer of all Clephasion Empire branded-products including CocOil.
- You are known for performing poetry. How did you find your niche as a performance and spoken-word poet?
As a writer, I strongly believe writing will give readers a perception that may sometimes be different from the intent while performing will not only unveil the intent it will help connect with the viewers and take them by their hands through the journey intended in the poem. This is why I chose performance after writing my spoken word/poetry.
- Can you vividly recall the title of the first poem you wrote and performed? Tell us about it and how you landed into poetry writing.
The official first poem was PUZZLE. I wrote it during church service when I recalled what I’ve been told, taught and seen about sex. I performed it on October 27th, 2012 at a seminar organised by Mr. James Asu. It became my launching out piece; now, it has been reedited and renamed after its kind as ‘SEXANITY’ – a word I coined to mean SEX SANITY.
- As poets, some of us tend to look at stylistics. How would you describe poetry in relation to your style, would you say performance poetry follow a different style from page poetry??
Performance poetry has its unique vibe and style which is totally different from page poetry. I’ll like to say performance poetry is a map of the writer’s mind; involving a performer who takes his/her viewers on a journey using gestures, facial expressions, songs or any other props.
- How do you conclude that a poem should be performed? How do you give lines actions and voices?
A poem should be performed with the right attitude given by the writer through his/her diction in the poem selected for performance after which the performer(s) rehearses to BE each metres, lines, verses and stanza while delivering. Poetry performance is a journey from the first word.
Voices, actions, lines even inactions are given to a poem by the poet the moment he/she decides on the diction to be used, mood to get into and/or make the reader assume while reading.
- How did you become a member of PIN and the Moderator of Steps and Stops? How has it been volunteering your time and services to Poets in Nigeria?
In early months of 2016, I had volunteered for an organization but left when lines that fell on me from the boss’ mouth were not pleasant to heal me since I was still battling with brokenness birthed by words from someone I once looked up to; I needed to stay sound, safe and strong not only for myself but for other cords tied to me by blood, marriage, adoption, friendship or companionship. It was at this time I called Sir Eriata, told him of how I desperately needed to engage my mind on a daily basis, different from what I was used to. He told me of STEPS and STOPS page and asked if I could manage the page. I thought it not twice before answering “Yes” to being sound for myself and others, “Yes” to stepping on stops before me and those in the waiting.
It’s been worth the “Yes” I said that day on the phone. Reaching out to people irrespective of the distance and nature of challenges they face is fulfilling as I always get motivated as well.
- What is PIN STEPS & STOPS about? What does it intend to achieve as an initiative of PIN?
As the moderator, PIN STEPS and STOPS is a motivational hub. It serves the world better with motivational dose as quotes, posts, graphic illustration. With our submerged daily activities; starting every working week and the beginning of weekends with #MotivatingMonday and #FitnessFriday we look forward to helping as many who’ll stay connected to be a master of their mind in the positive direction. We believe everything starts from the Human mind, as ideas, thoughts, actions and behaviour if not checked can become a character translating into a Being.
- Kindly highlight platforms you have performed your poetry on.
I’ve been privileged to grace countless platforms; ranging from motivational seminars, churches, NGOs, literary bodies, slams as well as One on One. Some of these include Uncommon Man Network, Maximum Impact Network, Chill and Relax, Be Blessed, War of Words 1, some parishes, youth church, and province of The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Poets in Nigeria events across the country including NSPP and Festival Poetry Calabar, The Office of the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Lagos Book and Arts festival 2019 and my first ever romantic poem was used by a client on her wedding day – February 3rd, 2018 as her marriage vow.
- You are very active on social media. What is your opinion on engaging Social Media as a tool to promote literary art?
Since the inception of modern information technology, social media has been a tool used to break distance barrier. For promotion of literary art, it won’t be anything less than to effectively help connect dots caused by social distancing to make straight lines of literary Renaissance.
- What Nigerian poet(s) do you love to read/hear?
This is numerous and it’s depending on my mood per time. However, in no particular order I easily connect with my poetic mother – Mrs. Donna Ogunaike Obaseki, Mrs. Adekunle Shola Phebian, Mrs. Tolulope Sonuga, Toby Abiodun, Paul Word Uma, my poetic Papa and Grand pa – Sir Eriata Oribhabor, Sir Chuma Nwokolo to mention a few.
- Poetry appreciation is gaining grounds in Nigeria. What in your opinion is the place of poetry as a genre of literature in Nigeria? What future? What opportunities for Poets?
With the induction of mood, acts, props, rhythms, rhyme schemes or free verse; it is soul lifting, enlightening, instructive, entertaining and so much more. I’ll say poetry is the centre of all genres of literature in Nigeria be it on page or on stage.
Poetry is at the verge of becoming unavoidable in the new public slang “the new normal” as it is gradually becoming not an individual thing, corporate bodies are connecting and enjoying the goodness it brings to their organisation when it’s used for advertising.
Poetry is taking the spotlight really soon without looking back so poets like me should keep at what we’re doing, get better to be and do better because preparation mating with opportunity results into successful delivery.
- What’s your opinion about Poets in Nigeria as a vanguard of poetry renaissance in Nigeria?
Individually we’re giving our all to pin down our names on the garment of life. We, having united as a family connecting poets to greatness, redefining poetry on page and stage, I am of the opinion which is in line with majority opinion that we’ve hardly scratched the surface of our goals. However, we’ve been able to set a standard that poetry is not only about big grammars but about accuracy of words, sentences, and tenses, creativity and alignment of thoughts and all who has seen this light has a share of bliss that comes with penning down of thoughts.
- Thank you for your time. Please leave us with few lines of a poem you have written. (max 10 lines)
We are tailors;
stitchers of posterity’s hem
with forbearance, we sketch life in stylish lines and verses.
We’re tale lords
scribbling history with our works.