Lake Adedamola works in different capacities with literary platforms like Brittle Paper, Lagos International Poetry Festival and Nantygreens to bring poetry to the fore. In this delightful conversation with Semilore Kilaso of PIN Literary Interviews, he shares his experiences as a literary editor and communications specialist who is committed to sustaining poetry renaissance in Nigeria.
Lake Adedamola is a poet, editor, and an alumni of I.S. Jones’s Singing Bullet Poetry Workshop. He’s the newsletter editor with Brittle Paper; editor, Nantygreens literary magazine and communications lead with the Lagos International Poetry Festival.
- It is a pleasure having you on this session of PIN Literary Interview. Can we please meet you?
Erm, my name is Lake Adedamola, a poet, and a shy one at that (yeah, you can say whatever! Lol). I’m an editor too, something I’ve enjoyed doing even before my undergraduate days, working on a campus magazine, Escola. I am a newsletter editor with Brittle Paper, and am also on the team of the Lagos International Poetry Festival. Let me see, what else? I love basketball, egusi soup (I make a badass one) and, I’m a kingdom proclaimer too!
- How did you become the poetry editor at Nantygreens and how has it been?
It was through a tweet one dull evening like that. I was scrolling through my timeline and saw a call for volunteers. I responded to the tweet, sending an email in and received a response almost immediately. And here we are! *shrugs shoulders*. Working as an editor with Nantygreens has been great actually. I mean look at the volume of work we’ve put out through the years and how that quality has improved. And the founder, Feyisayo Adeyemi, has become a dear friend whose love for the art has continued to keep the platform afloat.
- What prompted the birth of your lovechild Three Poems; a special feature published every Wednesday on Nantygreens.
Haha! Lovechild huh? Lol.
Three Poems was originally created as a segment to attract established poets to the platform since we already give space to the budding ones. The initial plan was to write to specific poets, asking them to submit their works. But down the line, we opened it up and thought of it more as a platform for those who see themselves as poets in the real sense of it and not just the occasional or seasonal poets.
It has allowed us to publish poets whose work are unique and are in their own rights. We of course wish that we could pay these poets but, mehn, Nantygreens is benevolent to Feyisayo Adeyemi, who’s continued to keep it afloat out of his personal funds! Thank you Feyisayo! And please, support us. Go to nantygreens.com, click the Donate button and lend a hand!
- What is your schedule like as an editor? How often do you have to read, edit, and send out acceptance and rejection letters?
Oh mehn! Schedule. Believe me Semilore, it’s erratic. Sometimes I get a block too! Like not being interested in editing and whatnot. And other times I get myself down to working through the submissions and that one poem just takes away all the blockage. So, it’s just as the poem wills. To answer your second question, I’d say submissions dictate much of what we do at Nantygreens. One time we published as much as 10 poems and other works within two days and Feyisayo was just laughing, joking we’ve probably published more in those two days than a particular month. So, received submissions play a huge role in a lot of this. And we do receive quite a good number of them.
We try as much as we can to minimize rejections. And a good amount of the submissions we receive, defined as poetry by the submitter, is just stream of thoughts that needs further clippings here and there.
The task of writing that acceptance and rejection letter is also simultaneous: as I’m reading, editing, designing lead image and scheduling. That way nothing is missed. It’s a pretty engaging task that can take hours, be concluded on the spot or that I can come back to.
- What personal problems have you encountered as an editor? Have you had poets slander you because their work wasn’t accepted for publication?
Nah, I haven’t had poets slander me nor send a hate mail in for that matter. I mean it’s either an acceptance or a rejection, right? Nonetheless when we see potential in a poem, we do not hesitate to work with a poet, providing suggestions, even doing a rewrite and asking for feedback from the poet before final publication. So, we do well and avoid trouble.
- Tell us about your work with the Lagos International Poetry Festival.
I am the Comms Lead at the festival and I work closely with the festival director, Efe Paul Azino. Working with the Lagos International Poetry Festival, which just concluded its 6th edition, online, because of COVID-19 restrictions has been more than wonderful. You know, before I got to work with the festival, I had initially tried to replicate it, host a poetry festival in Ife, where I schooled. Myself and a few friends Dunni Oni, Kareemat Odebode, Akinnawonu Joseph, Emmanuel Ocean, Gracious Egedegbe and Diekara Oloruntoba-oju worked on that project but, mehn! Lol.
I mean that’s how sole my love for poetry is. I pull these friends and we worked at it. Went to the Ooni of Ife but couldn’t get him. Talked to someone at a foremost gas company, for sponsorship, still no lead. And then I left school, interned with the festival and got on as a team member.
It’s a huge task, and a delightfully, excruciating, hard work! Did I say killing already? Yeah! It’s a beautiful death though. We begin planning at the start of the year, first with themes, designs, all of which are refined along the way until the creative director Efe Paul Azino, who’s not easily impressed, shines a giant smile that yes, let’s go with that. Then we start sending invites, dealing with poets who can’t come now but want to come for the next edition. I mean for instance – I hope I don’t lose my job for this though – We intended to bring Jericho Brown to LIPFest this year but for scheduling. So, look out for him next year.
The festival puts side by side poets (stage and page) in Nigeria with those from elsewhere. That is a validation that is strongly needed because the mechanics of the craft here is tedious and difficult. The exposure from that is also beneficial in terms of encouraging the local poets and getting them to see the value poetry has and can bring, away from their 9-5 grinds.
- What are the advantages of engaging Social Media as a tool for the promotion of literary art?
Social media makes the promotion of literary art an everyday staple. It also demystifies the fear that many people have for poetry, for instance, that it is complicating, hard to grasp or even dull. Of course, that alludes to how many of us are first introduced to poetry. See what poets like Poetolu are doing on Instagram. And many other poets have used social media well, taking snippets off of their poetry books, and anthologies, I mean cutting them into digestible bits that are accessible both in language, form and story to reel in new fans!
- As a writer yourself, do you have any interesting writing habits, such as how and when you write?
Oh my! I write. My phone is filled with bits here and there. And I’ve finished a book too, but wait, in my head though. Lol.
A great, appealing notebook or notepad gets me to write, all the time. That’s a habit I love! I got this beautiful, sandalwood colored notepad from my sister, with soft lines that are not too spaced out, and 75% of its pages is filled up.
- Writing or editing, which is easier for you?
Editing! Lol. It’s straight up that because the process is already formed. All that’s required is a large pruning shear to trim edges and of course weeding.
- What Nigerian poet or poets do you love to read?
Well, this is sorta vague because while I feel it eliminates those Nigerian poets in the diaspora, I think my answer would include them.
First though is my homeboy Akinnawonu Joseph. No, you’ve not heard of him. Yes, I’ve read his work a lot. Akins, as we call him is both a wowzer of a spoken word poet and a page poet. I’ve read many of his works, unpublished, and gets blown off every time. Then of course there is the late Harry Garuba, and the recently deceased Prof. JP Clark. I can churn out “Papa Clark’s poem, “Night Rain” word for word.
I love Niyi Osundare too and the simplicity, and musicality of his work is beautiful. I read Romeo Oriogun, Dami Ajayi, and my dear friend Itiola Jones. See, you better stop me now because have had great personal contacts and relationships with some of these individuals and I could go on about late nights on couches sharing their poems and those of others that they read too. So, stop me!
- 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?
That poetry is gaining ground is a recourse to the generational shift that poets in this era have ushered in. Look at Adedayo Agarau, Precious Arinze, Gbenga Adesina, Jasmine Jade, Ernest Ogunyemi, and within these group is somewhat earlier group that includes Saddiq Dzukogi, Romeo Oriogun, Chibuihe, Daisy Odey, Peter Akinlabi to name a few. Of course, the spoken word poets like Toby Abiodun, and what the poetry platform, War of Words, continues to accomplish has put poetry as a cohesive entity more into focus. And this also asks the question of how many of these poets, those base in the country, have published a full book or even a chapbook, not self published, in the last decade. And that’s a general question for the generations before as well, if you have to expand that list, maybe you’d have a count of ten.10! And that’s not good enough. The only way most Nigerian poets get published and are actually appreciated for their work is when they’re published outside through the Sillerman Book Prize, the Brunel Prize etc.
So, poetry appreciation is gaining ground but we have to look at how we gauge that. The opportunities are there but can only be annexed to this “gaining ground’’ if more of these poets publish their works or come out with poetry albums. Poetry for us as Africans is an essence of our very existence. And it has survived. We need to support the festivals, the literary platforms, and help the poets get published.
- What’s your opinion about Poets in Nigeria as a vanguard of poetry renaissance in Nigeria?
Well, it’s great that as a platform PIN is working to further advance poetry in Nigeria. It is to be appreciated. I mean see all the interviews and opportunities that PIN has afforded us all. So, we thank you guys!
Thank you for your time. Please leave us with few lines of a poem you have written. (max 10 lines).
I saw a photograph of you, laughing. I paused:
Placed my hand on it: It paused.
You continued to laugh. I begin to laugh.
And I thought, I’ve never seen anything, anything near as beautiful:
In the way a smile caresses your face
And stay, like miniature summer in winter
In the way joy fills your voice
And stay, like memories of cherished childhood.
I took a sliver of you, Modele
And set it between the fading daylight and the coming nightfall
And ask for another creation to delight me:
I’m still waiting.