2020 was an intense year for us, with the COVID-19 restrictions/lockdown, ENDSARS, amongst other things that took the years’ spotlight. For most of us, we had a lot of free time away from school and work. In light of that, I asked Nigerian poets how they fared in 2020 in terms of literary creativity, their number of submissions/publications and expectations for 2021. Below are responses:
Samuel A. Adeyemi, @samuelpoetry
I’ve noticed significant growth in my writing and writing process. I look back at poems I wrote in 2019, or even earlier in 2020 and I cringe. I’d press my palm on my forehead and ask myself, “what was I thinking in this verse?” “I should’ve put a line break here,” “insert a caesura!”. I had eleven publications in 2020. Not so many, perhaps, but I am content. I only started sending out my works to magazines and journals around April, so every single acceptance and publication meant a lot to me. Of course, it’s never entirely thornless—there’s surely a tale of rejections to complement.
I hope for more growth, experience, and bigger publications. I keep a list of places I aim to be published in, and I was able to get accepted into two in 2020. Entering a number of competitions and, at least, getting shortlisted/longlisted is another expectation for 2021. I also hope to read more broadly and experiment with prose this year.
Oyetayo Eniola, @ankarawhore
Year 2020 was one year that made me listen more and write less. I wrote about 20 poems with a larger amount uncompleted, read 23 books which are surprisingly less than my average of previous years even though I had more free time on my hands. I made 8 poetry submissions of which 3 poems were accepted but are yet to be published. In 2021, I expect to have a wider range of expression of my work. 2020 reminded me of how multifaceted life can be and I hope to draw from that knowledge and breathe more life into my work.
Timothy Ojo, @TimothyOJO_
Ah-ah. I think 2020 was good. I did write a lot but I didn’t put them out for reasons best known to me. Who am I deceiving? I felt they weren’t good enough yet….lol. So, yeah, I read people, mostly Nigerian Poets, as I feel they are the best around and I’m not even patronising. I got 7 of about 14 pieces I put out published, pass mark huh? Ah! In 2021, I’m releasing those poems on my laptop. I have close to 40 of them that I want to share with the world. Ijust want to share my poetry to the world. The prizes and all of that do not really matter. But if they come, why not?
Auta Kingsley Dembo, @auta_kings
Year 2020 came and I must say even though I didn’t do much writing, my writing improved greatly. I learned and explored different aspects of poetry writing and delivery (as a spoken word act), shot a few videos on some of my poems and had my first chapbook, LOVE STORIES published digitally in November. I didn’t really submit poems at the beginning of the year, however toward the last quarter, I made a few submissions. Currently I’ve got just one response which was a rejection, others are yet to respond, hopefully positive responses will roll in (fingers crossed). I also head a literary outlet —UpWrite Magazine which promotes and publish young poets/writers via our website and magazine.
In 2021, I hope to learn more, make more submissions and execute my plan to host a poetry concert in one of the South-western states (this is something I had done before. I hope to make it bigger in 2021). For the magazine, the vision is big, hence not much can be done in one year but we hope to be consistent and getting better year in year out.
Ejiro Elizabeth Edwards, @ejiroedward552
In year 2020, I had a total number of eight publications and to be sincere, I am not very pleased with myself. I believe my highest point was being accepted for SBMEN workshop. The workshop was an intensive training of four days that ran for eight hours a day. I must confess it pushed my ability to create within a short period of time, as I had to submit assignment before the beginning of the next class. This is still helping me create non-fiction and speculative pieces.I am already pushing towards 2021, expanding my base of writing and pushing harder. Be on the lookout for more of that from me. I would get there.
Olaitan Humble, @olaitanhumble
2020 was a challenging ride. Self-development as a creative, I believe, is instrumental to solidifying one’s confidence in the literary field. I attended virtual seminars and mini workshops. I read selected pages from Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” In order to sharpen my micropoetry skill, I also participated in Naija Haiku Poetry Workshop where I learnt the art of minimalism in poetry, and the Japanese poetry form called haiku. I started submitting my poems in the fourth quarter of 2019 and I received my first acceptance in December 2019. This motivated me to write more poetry and pitch to international journals of lifestyle, arts and literature. It’s a privilege to have published up to 50 poems in 2020.
Like a friend of mine would say, “May God not call us dead.” I hope to have my work in notable literary journals, likewise uplift myself in the literary world. I will be reading more in 2021 than I write though.