Before you get down to the interview, here’s the poem which earned Biola a winning spot:
The African Writers: Hi Biola, can you describe yourself in a few words?
Biola: If I am to describe myself in just a few words, the things to know right off would be: I am a very happy go lucky kind of person, I’ve a quick wit and love to laugh about everything under the sun. I’m actually a bit of an introvertand also quite reserved. However, many people find me an intelligent conversationalist cause I’m knowledgeable about a lot of subjects. So can engage just about anyone in conversation (if I choose to). And there’s the creative part of me, I love creating and coming up with new ideas, not just as a writer but in every part of my life.
The African Writers: What is your purpose as a writer?
Biola: I’ve always found these types of questions hard to answer. I write to make sense of the world majorly. It is my goal to move people, shed light on social issues, provide insight, enlighten people, provoke thoughts, start conversations and do all these while also managing to entertain people.
The African Writers: Have you always loved writing, or you developed interest over time?
Biola: The women in my family are avid readers and growing up, I became one too. During my childhood, I read a lot of short stories, fairy tales. I read my first adult novel when I was in primary 2. It was my moms’ and the title was “Coming Home.” It was really big, like a dictionary. I would sneak into the bathroom everyday after school and read. It was the coolest book i’ve ever read. I won’t say I completely understood the book at that age but I got sucked into the world created by the author and really enjoyed the story. Somehow, right then I made up my mind that I wanted to be involved in creating something amazing like that too. So I would say a little bit of both, I’ve always loved writing but I’ve also had to nurture the interest over time. I wanted to write novels as a child but recently developed interest in poetry.
The African Writers: How did you feel seeing your name among the top 3 winners?
Biola: Honestly? Sort of surreal.
The African Writers: The theme in your poem is a sensitive societal issue, why did you choose to write on it?
Biola: Anyone who knows me know I am very passionate about the girl child and issues pertaining to the girl child, which unfortunately rape is an headliner of. So, When I saw the theme ‘dead lions don’t roar,’I didn’t know how it was going to fit but I immediately knew I wanted to use the bigger platform and opportunity to discuss something meaningful and important to me. To use the poem to provoke emotions, thoughts and draw attention to horrific issues in the society and its so sad there’s so much material for rape poems.
The African Writers: If you knew that whatever you wrote will come to pass, what would you write?
Biola: I’m probably going to write that every other thing I write till I die comes to pass. (Lol)
The African Writers: Lol! So, are you a fan of spoken word/performance poetry?
Biola: I’m a baby fan. Spoken word/performance poetry is a whole other world and a brilliant world I wasn’t paying attention to. I just recently started watching and listening and its mind blowing.
The African Writers: Do you have any published work (s)?
Biola: Not yet but my final year project on Chinua Achebe is getting published…does that count? (Lol)
The African Writers: It does, we’d love to read it. How soon should we be on the lookout for your other published works?
Biola: Christopher Hitchens once said:
“everyone has a book in them but not all are worth reading”.
So the answer to that question is as soon as my book is worth reading.
The African Writers: Great. What advice would you give to writers who aren’t confident about their art?
Biola: There isn’t one poem, novel, author or piece of literary art that doesn’t have its critics. So just learn to steel yourself for criticism and rejection. Try not to take it personally. Instead learn from criticism and rejection to better your art. Also, read, read, read. Then write, write, write. Write with your own voice. It is important. Ignore the rules of writing, ignore the doubting voice in your head. Have faith in yourself and get out of your own way because the only thing standing in your path is YOU.
Very apt words right there from Adepoju Abiola, thank you.
As always, keep shining!