‘There’s hardly any contemporary Nigerian poet who doesn’t have a thing to do with PIN’ – Rahma Jimoh | PIN Literary Interviews

Semilore Kilaso interviews the Lead Representative of PIN OOU Connect Centre, Rahma Jimoh who beams light on her journey as a poet and poetry enthusiast.

Rahma O. Jimoh is a poet, writer and Mass Communication student at the Olabisi Onabanjo University where she doubles as the Lead Rep. of the PIN Connect Centre in her school. She is an executive of WRICON and co-founder of Ramadan Tercets. Her works have appeared on magazines/journals like The Mamba Haiku Journal, Hedgerow, The Quills, Poetry pea, SpringNg, Sub Saharan Mag, and elsewhere. She has a few wins to her name like a feature as the 4th and 5th top writer at the “Share a poem contest,” second runner-up at the Poesy Writers’ Contest, Joint winner of the 10-day poetry contest organised by PIN and was shortlisted for BPPC in May & July 2019 respectively. She enjoys sunsets and visitation to monuments

  1. It is great pleasure having you on this session of PIN Literary Interviews. Please can we meet you?

I am Rahma Jimoh, was born in Jos, Plateau state but brought up in Lagos and Ogun state respectively. The incessant crisis in the North made my dad opt for a transfer from Command Secondary Jos, to Lagos in 2005. Currently, I am a student of Mass Communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye. I function as the Lead Rep of my school’s Poets in Nigeria Connect Centre. I am also a Moderator for Writers Connect and co-founder of Ramadan Tercets, a group that operates only during Ramadan. I am a lover of knowledge. I have a passion for good food, humanity, money, adventures and interesting books.

  1. Your love for poetry is unquestionable. Why poetry?

My first writing was birthed after my sight of a short drama written by my sister; I was 8 years old and decided to imitate her so I wrote my own number of stories. But then, poetry appeared difficult; I remember in 2014 when I tried to write a poem but couldn’t get it, I was so frustrated that I cried. However, my love for poetry began as a challenge, especially after I read a book wherein the author wrote that poets are the greatest of writers. Being a person inspired by challenges, I became even more inspired to write poetry, and poetry became a challenge I must conquer. It however developed into a passion and an outlet for expression over the years. Poetry became a relief. Again, I have chosen poetry because of my love for aesthetics, aptness and fluidness which poetry gives than other genres.

  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.

The first poem I wrote was instinctive; borne out of a feeling of self-unworthiness, and that was in 2015. My despondency was so deep that I filled my jotter with poems in just one night. The poems might not have been fit to be called poems, but they served the purpose at the time: healing and expression of my grievances. I am sensitive and introspect a lot, so poetry has been a channel to express my feelings; sweet and otherwise. The jotter was titled “FEAR.” Also, I joined Facebook and Instagram around 2015 but gained the courage to post my poems in 2017. These digital platforms connected me to other great poets and writers who have encouraged, helped and contributed to my growth. Notable among them is Adedoyin Luqmon Omo Lustrous who has continuously encouraged me to keep writing. Also, meeting Ebubechukwu Bruno in OOU has inspired my journey in poetry. Bruno has continuously believed in me.

Again, writing has always been around me. There were always books to read, so writing was imminent. With teachers as parents and an elder sister who loved to read.  I started with Ladybird books, then Lantern storybooks, later Harlequin Novels and Senior School introduced me to more serious literary texts.

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

Stylistics in poetry is one of the aesthetics. I look out for style and exploration in poetry and contemporary poetry has given space for freedom and exploration which, I think, is everything. There are no more rules, even in Haiku, the archaic 5-7-5 style is being lowered to dust. My poems are to express, so, they are mostly tailored to meet the intent behind them. It’d be safe to say my style is dynamic. I admire and enjoin creativity and dynamism in writing. So, I believe styles should be utilised to suit the intent and/or theme.

  1. What is the writing process like for you? How do you conclude that you are writing a poem and how do you develop from a word into lines?

My writing process is sometimes, spontaneous and other times, pre-thought. However, I jot ideas in their raw forms lest they get overshadowed if I don’t. I later revert to the jotted ideas to develop them. Sometimes, the work takes another course different from the jotted. I do not force it, I allow a poem to write it itself, then I go back to edit it. I also make sure to proofread with friends. However, I write better in graveyard-silent places, a slight movement could distract me sometimes. I’m not a fan of noise.

  1. How did you become the Lead Rep. PIN OOU Connect Centre? How has it been volunteering your time and services to Poets in Nigeria?

The existence of PIN in OOU was a dream come true, for me. I didn’t want to go to OOU because I believed literature and arts was not well appreciated there but fate has its way. So, one of the first things I looked out for after gaining an admission was an organisation like PIN. My enthusiasm and passion for poetry and PIN activities made me the Lead Rep. for PIN, OOU CONNECT CENTRE. It has been amazing, and sometimes, challenging as I have been pushed to better my writings. I have learnt a lot, too. It has also challenged me to better my craft.

  1. Give us a brief on the centre’s activities and future plans. Who constitutes your team at OOU Connect Centre?

Before the lockdown, our activities centred on a bi-monthly reading in school. We also organize poetry and literary outreach for secondary schools in Ago Iwoye and environs. But now our readings take place on Zoom, bimonthly also. We were planning on registering PIN OOU with the school’s student affairs when the lockdown began. We also met with one of our lecturers, who is equally a friend to Sir Eriata, to become our matron. I have a team of myself, two wonderful assistant reps, Ayobami Abdul Yekini (BamBam) and Rotimi Salami, and a passionate member, Ogunyemi Oluwafemi (Savitar) who’s always ready to spearhead activities. Other members have also all been wonderful in their little ways.

  1. What is the niche you hope to create for PIN OOU Connect Centre?

We hope to create an avenue for poetry renaissance in OOU using PIN as a vanguard to bring poetry to the limelight again. However, not only poetry but arts in general. We want to create an atmosphere where upcoming poets and writers can develop their writings, share their works, and PIN already has different outlets to showcase their talents.

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

I entered for NSPP last year but couldn’t submit for this year due to some reasons. I hope to submit for the next year’s, in fact, I am already preparing to submit. Lol. I entered for the PIN 10-Day poetry contest in May 2019, of which I was among the winning writers. I also entered for the poetically written contest in 2019 but I was not shortlisted. I wanted to participate in the on-spot-poetry contest this year also but something came up at the last hour and I found out my Zoom was outdated. I ran out of time and could not participate.

  1. What Nigerian poet(s) do you love to read?

Although I have not arrived at a favourite Nigerian poet, I have a favourite few. I enjoy reading Ben Okri, Helon Habila and Niyi Osundare.  I also love Rasaq Malik Gbolahan, whose works have inspired quite a handful of my poems; and Ayeyemi Taofeek, his cultural relativistic tendencies pique me. I read Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau for word economy and style; Aremu Adams Adebisi for the themes & focal points; Adebayo Kolawole Samuel for simplicity and clarity; Ehi Ogwiji for depth and aesthetics and, Naseeba Babaale for clarity and flow.

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

Poetry has in recent times, become a preferred genre of literature in Nigeria. It is now the most popular outlet for youths diving into writing. Poetry is no longer the difficult and inaccessible genre of literature. With the advent of social media, podcasts, poetry journals here and there, poetry associations etc., poetry has already gotten the reins in Nigeria literature.  The future is bright for poetry and the future is here. There are so many opportunities for poets. Apart from the fact that poetry gives confidence and identity, poetry also connect, it is a passageway for other writing for many poets. Monetary rewards, scholarships, career opportunities are another thing. They are innumerable.

  1. Can you hazard the future of PIN as an organisation dedicated to poetry for service?

PIN has given a lot to the society, to the youths, hence the future of PIN is solid. The foundation has been laid, solid and strong. There’s hardly any contemporary Nigerian poet who doesn’t have a thing to do with PIN. Some have won contests organized by PIN, some have been encouraged to write because of PIN, some have judged contests organised by PIN. The list is endless. PIN has been building young poets, all for poetry for service, to whom much is given much is expected. Hence, I see a bright future for PIN and younger poets giving back to poetry for service.

  1. Much as I appreciate your attention, rounding off this interview without a dose of poetry reading would be failing on my part. Please leave us with few lines of a poem you have written. (max 10 lines).

 On kindness

What could be more beautiful

Than the sparkling sun of kindness

Making the self a jar brimming empty cups,

Raised to mouth to quench thirsts,

To dehydrate bodies with liquid of love

How will you ever go thirsty?

How can you ever become a desert

When every drop you spilt has become an ocean.

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