Feyisayo Adeyemi is Semilore Kilaso’s guest for this edition of PIN Literary Interviews. Here, he talks about Nigerian poetry, founding Nantygreens and promoting literary arts.
Feyisayo Adeyemi, an SEO professional, is the founder of Nantygreens, He is interested in arts and digital media. He loves ila alasepo and draws a connection with it to his ancestors.
1. It is a pleasure having you on this session of PIN Literary Interviews. Can we please meet you?
I am Feyisayo Adeyemi, an SEO/digital marketing professional who is also a student of literature.
2. How did you start Nantygreens? What prompted you to create a brand aimed at discovering new and emerging Nigerian writers and introducing them to the community of readers and writers?
The platform originally started from a personal need. I had tried to read a poem in front of ANA members in my University but experienced a panic attack (anxiety is a MF). The incident made me figure it was better for me to share my poetry in absentia. So, I created Nantygreens as a personal blog in 2010 towards that goal. It was on blogspot back then. However, not too long after a few friends wanted to be featured on the site, and I eventually thought to myself that this perhaps showed there was a much bigger need to be met. In 2011, Nantygreens moved to its own domain and was launched as a platform for young people to express their creative inclinations.
3. How has it been promoting literary art over the years, especially poetry? There is also Three Poems; a special feature published every Wednesday on Nantygreens
It has been good, thanks to the contributors sending in their works and we have had volunteers helping in different capacities. Nantygreens is committed to being fresh, green, and innovative, so we try to think of new things to do and welcome ideas. Three Poems is the love child of Lake Adedamola— who initially came onboard as a volunteer— and it has featured a wide range of poets from Nigeria and outside of Nigeria.
4. Evidently, running a website and literary press requires funding, and as compared to other sections of the creative industry in Nigeria, there is zero funding for literary artists. How has Nantygreens managed to stay afloat amidst this?
I think the platform creates a value and each time I see people send a mail wanting their works to be featured, or sharing with their friends after they have gotten published, I feel we have fulfilled a need. Hence, I have been dipping into personal funds. We recently added a donation button to the site for people who would love to help us stay afloat – we would definitely appreciate any help we can get.
5. What roles would you say small presses play in the promotion of literary art in Nigeria?
A small press can be a good launch pad for new writers who then can go on to attract big publishers and wider audience. On Nantygreens, we welcome ‘green’ creative people who are just finding their voice or testing out ideas or even just looking for first contact with an editor. I believe in incremental growth. So today you are on nantygreens.com with your first 3 poems, tomorrow your work is getting published on The New York Times. (smiles)
6. Small presses in the UK, USA, and Canada solicit funds through public donation and crowdfunding. Do you think such can work in Nigeria?
It is an idea worth testing. I think people will donate if they feel attached to a brand, product and/or cause. We just have to figure out how to attract and inspire that level of commitment and brand loyalty.
7. It is important to promote literary art amongst non-literary artists. It would be a shame to have only writers read other writer’s work. What can be done to encourage the public into reading poetry, because there’s a generally wrong perception that poetry is for restricted readers?
Hmm, people would go for what they are interested in. It can depend on what kind of poetry you are talking about too. There is the poetry easily consumed on social media like you find on Instagram. Lots of quick digestible expressions are shared there with millions of views/followership. You also have the poems in the traditional form that might require a peculiar kind of interest. Some poems only start to form meanings when you understand the tradition, textual history and culture etc. so it can be a complex thing. In all, we can try to increase visibility for the different works and find where the audience is at to meet them there.
8. Do tell us about the Nantygreens team?
It is a community of people in love with the arts and contributing their time, skills to see the platform grow and stay alive. We have some volunteers who are university students pitching in as much time as they have in between classes, tests, and exams. I am proud and appreciative of everyone.
9. What are the advantages of engaging Social Media as a tool for the promotion of literary art?
Social media has become part of everyday life and instrumental in how we reach people. It helps in reaching new audience/markets even faster in an inexpensive way. So, you can grow your brand and create awareness from anywhere while also getting feedback and giving immediate response. For instance, most people get to know about nantygreens.com from social media – either directly from our channels or from people sharing.
10. As a writer yourself, do you have any interesting writing habits, such as how and when you write?
Hahaha I do not qualify to be called a writer. I only run a platform now (smiles). So, I think only those prolific in the act of writing can speak on habits. I like to express what I feel in the moment and that is about it.
11. What Nigerian poet or poets do you love to read?
A lot of the poets on Nantygreens, I am pleasantly surprised when some of those works are submitted. I read and love the works of Dami Ajayi, Tosin Gbogi, Joy Chime, Nelson Fasina, Niyi Osundare, Michael Akuchie, Bello Haneefah…etc.
12. Poetry appreciation is gaining ground in Nigeria. What in your opinion is the place of poetry as a genre of literature in Nigeria? What future? What opportunities for Poets?
Through the times, poetry has remained a common feature. From the Odes/Greek epics to the Ewi of the Yorubas, it remains a tool to both educate and entertain the society. Oral tradition is ‘back’ (it never left) and can be explored through digital medium as many spoken word poets are already doing. We have seen spoken word pieces used for adverts and that can be built upon. I would like to see some collaboration in the entertainment world too where poets are featured in films, music, etc.
13. What’s your opinion about Poets in Nigeria as a vanguard of poetry renaissance in Nigeria?
It is great to have a platform dedicated to the literary genre of poetry. Many poets can take advantage to get featured and place their work in front of the audience. We need more platforms so there are options for different levels of entry.
14. Thank you for your time. Please leave us with few lines of a poem you have written. (max 10 lines).
Ode to all the ‘I dey kampe’
Though falling apart.
Dip in the water, let go and float.
When it got too much
Jésù gan ké