Moderator of PIN Literary Interviews, Semilore Kilaso chats with the winner of 2020 edition of Poetically Written Prose Contest, Boloere Seibidor. The guest talks about writing her winning entry and engaging in other literary endeavours.
Boloere Seibidor, a Nigerian poet and writer, is an undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt where she studies Microbiology. Her works have appeared on numerous magazines/journals. Her story, To Pull a Lion’s Tail, won honourable mention in the Kreative Diadem annual creative writing contest 2019. She also emerged winner of the Poetically Written Prose Contest 2020. She is unashamedly obsessed with Ed Sheeran & James Bay. Boloere is, amongst other things, an avid lover of bread & dark humour.
- Congratulations for being the winner of Glass Door Initiative’s Poetically Written Prose Contest 2020.
Thank you very much.
- Reading your entry, you strike me as one who was awaiting an opportunity to pour down the poetically written lines that won you the 2020 edition of the contest?
Actually, I had waited a whole year for this opportunity. In the previous Poetically Written Prose contest, a friend of mine won the first runner-up, and it motivated me, or shall I say inspired me to write my first Poetically Written Prose. It was a rough work, of course, being a first trial, but it was at then my best shot. Ha-ha. However, when the time came for the 2020 contest, I read this piece (which had been in waiting for a whole year) and I cringed! I knew I couldn’t make it to the contest with that, and that I had to write another right then. I sighed, picked up my phone, stared a blank page for a couple minutes. Then began.
- If you are asked to hazard why your piece won, what would you say?
What can I say? Talent? Luck? Providence? I have thought about it, and I still can’t say for sure. To be honest, the win came as a huge surprise.
- How long did it take you to write the winning piece entitled “The Plague”?
Well, it took me about an hour to mentally prepare myself, ha-ha! But it took about two hours to write the actual piece.
- What was the writing process like?
Well, first, I mentally prepared myself for it, as earlier said, pondering for eons on what I was going to write about that would be satisfactory enough for the contest. The Plague, as the name hints, is a piece about the current pandemic the world is facing. I didn’t want to write about it, frankly, cause almost every poem I came across on the internet seemed to be about the pandemic, and I avoid clichés like a plague, pun intended. Still, when I sat down to think of what to write, I couldn’t think of anything else. So, I was left with no other option but to write on it. I allowed myself to feel emotions that I, most times, lock up in a box and allow to sink in an ocean of indifference. And I wrote. It was actually a smooth ride, I didn’t get “blocked” throughout the writing. The whole piece was written in one sitting of about two hours. (I like writing poetic pieces in one sitting, I tend to disconnect if I break the flow.) I did return for the piece after a couple of hours, though, to read with “fresh eyes”, and edit.
- What does it mean adjudging a piece of writing as poetically written?
Hmm. Well, I would say a piece of art is poetically written when it speaks more to your soul than it does to your mind, if that makes any sense. I feel like poetry is a means of ferrying words/emotions from one soul to another. If a piece of art is doing this with a befitting dosage of literary devices, such as simile, irony, innuendos, imagery, and my personal favourite, metaphor, et cetera, then it is most likely poetry. I choose metaphor as my favourite device because it is saying more with less words. That’s what poetry is all about, I’d say, painting vivid images, leaving a long-lasting, stirring after-effect on the mind of its reader, with just a few words.
- Do you agree that competitions are important and healthy in the creative space?
Yes, totally. Competitions inspire you to be your best, do your best. So yes, yes.
- Do you write poetry? If yes, why?
Yes! I love poetry. I wrote a poem this morning titled, “Poetry as a Canvas For Pain”, so if asked why I write poetry that title is a good hint. Poetry is the only way of expression I know, it’s a mosaic where I can lay down the slivers of self-pity, love, excruciation, happiness. When you’re depressed, you’re asked to visit a therapist, right? That’s what poetry is to me, therapy. After exorcising my demons out on a sheet of paper, or a word document, I’m washed with sudden delectation. I write to speak to another soul, too, but that’s only rarely. My main reasons of writing poetry are rather selfish, I must say; to relieve myself of a burden, or to carry the weight of happiness.
- Do you know of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize (NSPP)? If yes, have you ever applied for it?
Yes, I’ve heard about it, but have never applied for it.
- How would you describe the winning entry in relation to your style?
My entry does have a lot to do with my style. I write, mostly, in a simplistic, evocative manner, and I think it’s evident in The Plague
- Can you vividly recall the title of the first prose you ever wrote? Tell us about it and how you landed into writing poetically.
The first prose I ever wrote was a paranormal romance titled, “Century”. Don’t laugh. At the time, I was very young and intrigued by the supernatural, and spiritualism. Things that couldn’t ordinarily be fathomed. I’m not really sure how the transition from prose to poetry came, though. All I can say is I’d fallen head over heels, madly in love with a boy, whom I knew didn’t love me back. And poetry introduced itself to me as a shoulder I could cry on.
- How do you conclude that you are writing a poem and not a prose? And, developing from a word into lines?
Poetry is basically storytelling, only with fewer and more rousing words, images, and depth. Whilst storytelling is mostly about creative reinvention, poetry is spinning the truth into words. From the onset, I make up my mind that what I want to write is a poem and not a story. So, I put in extra effort to build it on the tiers of poetry, and on the foundation of Truth. The development from a word into lines comes a bit naturally for me. It just flows. Mind you, it won’t “flow” until I start writing, but once I do pick up a pen and jot down that line that has been lingering on my mind all day, the rest comes. Or at least it does most times. Ha-ha.
- What Nigerian poets or writers can you say have influenced you and your writing?
There’s Romeo Oriogun, whom I love for the depth and relatability of his writing. Chinua Achebe for his divulgence on African culture and the prehistoric times, Logan February, for his acute storytelling, Taofeek Ayeyemi (Aswaagawy), whom I love for his simplistic yet explosive manner of writing. And Pamilerin Jacob, whose style and poetic voice I am in total awe of.
- What’s your opinion about Poets in Nigeria as a vanguard of poetry renaissance in our country?
Poets in Nigeria is doing quite a great job, truly. It is working really hard to enliven the spirit of literature in our nation, and it is commendable.
- It’s been my pleasure having you. As a way of rounding this interview, please leave us with few lines of poetry (max ten lines)
I leave you with these lines of my currently unpublished poem, “Desolation song”.
last christmas, desolation came in
Santa Claus’ stead and carved a home in every heart
it’s been almost a year & my people still do not remember
how to smile. they see misery with their eyes closed
& smell the stench of rotten flesh. they scream
about death & war. about blood & gore
& while the world sets itself on fire, I marvel
at how perfectly my hand fits yours