“I had long forgotten about writing before winning the maiden edition of the On-the-Spot Poetry Writing Contest” – Asadu Emmanuel | PIN Literary Interviews

Semilore Kilaso has Emmanuel Asadu, winner of the maiden edition of the On-the-Spot Poetry Writing Contest, as guest for this edition of PIN Literary Interviews.

Asadu Emmanuel, 18, is a sophomore student at the University of Nigeria where he’s currently pursuing a degree in Economics. He hails from Enugu State, but resides in Lagos State, Nigeria.
His interests range from creative writing, research, to the simple things like film.

  1.     Congratulations! How do you feel about winning the maiden edition of the On-the-Spot Poetry Writing Contest?

Honestly, glad. I had long forgotten about writing and basically threw myself into other things, so I feel really glad that I could participate and win this; it’s somewhat of a sign that I should continue writing.

  1.       Reading your entry, you strike me as one awaiting an opportunity to pour down those lines. What is your reaction?

Oh, no. I really never had any intent to write anything even close to that. Days before the event, I just imagined what the topic could possibly be, but I never thought it would be rape, so the topic and my poem were as spontaneous as it could be.

  1.       If you are asked to hazard why your poem won, what would you say?

I don’t see myself as someone who knows that much about poetry, save for the basic things taught in a secondary school Literature class, to know why I won, but I’d hope it’s the originality/creativity of my piece.

  1.       You wrote the winning piece in 10 minutes. What was the writing process like?

Well, I’d already written something on a totally different topic to get my ‘creative juices’ flowing. That was the writing process for me; a lot of imagination and empathy (trying to make the poetic persona’s mood my own) followed by a little editing to ensure the words weren’t meaningless, bland, and unnecessarily lengthy.

  1.       Do you agree that competitions are important and healthy in the creative space?

Yes, I do. But only if done properly. Poetry is meant to raise new ideas and ignite different emotions. In a situation where the pieces we submit are viewed through the lens of (ideological) bias, the essence of competitions would’ve been wasted.

  1.       Have you ever entered for the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (NSPP) or any poetry contest organised by Poets in Nigeria Initiative?

NSPP and a food-themed poetry contest. I was amongst the top 100 poets and didn’t get shortlisted or mentioned for the food-themed contest.

  1.       Can you vividly recall the title of the first poem you ever wrote? Tell us about it and how you landed into poetry writing.

Yeah, it was during the first creative writing workshop I attended three years ago. A poem about the television.

  1.       As poets, some of us tend to look at stylistics. How would you describe poetry in relation to your style?

Well, I tend to be a bit vague, employ a certain number of metaphors since I find them easier to use, I love using things that relate to what I know, things I’ve seen or ideas I’ve come across to pass across my message. So, an average poem form is filled with things that might seem unrelated to the topic, but with time it gets clearer

  1.       How do you conclude you are writing a poem, and how do you develop from a word into lines?

My writing process is basically imagining the words and how they could possibly relate to the topic or theme I’m writing about. If I can get those words, their development includes ensuring the potential reader can get the image I’m trying to paint, editing, and if I’m to be honest, I tend to add a bit of ambiguity in my work.

  1.   What Nigerian poet or poets do you love to read?

I’ve never really been a reader of poetry, so I can’t say I’ve read any (major) poets.

  1.   What in your opinion is the place of poetry as a genre of literature in Nigeria? What future? What opportunities for Poets?

I have seen a considerable amount of efforts being put towards promoting poetry in Nigeria. PIN and the Ake Festival, if I’m to name a few, but it’s sadly not enough; we need more bottom-up furtherance of whatever narrative we are trying to push. Basically, if we look at secondary schools in Nigeria that are usually the first place anyone learns about poetry, we are left with robot-like recitations of already written work and little to no actual pieces being written by these learners.

  1.   What’s your opinion about Poets in Nigeria as a vanguard of poetry renaissance in our country?

Seeing as most bodies that receive submissions aren’t really interested in preaching the poetic gospel, but are only bothered about meeting publication deadlines, PIN has done a lot at both local and wider levels, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say they’re leading the poetic renaissance.

  1.   Please would you mind leaving us with few lines of poetry (max ten lines)

Shadow puppets made from buried memories of happier nights,
and words that bask in the light of grey,
brought in by footsteps long swept away by gin and white dust.

My hands outstretched to embrace the nothingness that remains as a metonym for our love built on Legos.
As I stand here on burning bridges,
Waiting to ignite,
Shadow puppets forcing me to let go




Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: