I had always loved to read. Luckily for me, I had parents who encouraged the reading culture. I fondly recollect that when I turned seven, my parents bought me this exciting children’s Bible story book filled with beautiful stories about different happenings in the Bible as a birthday gift. I finished reading all the stories and re-read them over and over again.
My Dad also frequently bought me story books and comics which I came to love. I had collections of comics about NASCAR races and the popular “Supa Strikas” comics.
Without a doubt, I know that my early love for reading had a positive impact on my writing journey. I remember that at some point while preparing for my entrance examination into secondary school, I wrote an essay that my tutor could swear was not my mine, because apparently, I had used words that she would not have expected me to command at that age. She sat me down in a room, and asked me to write a fresh essay. I was confused, but I wrote another one anyway. She was stunned, and applauded my vocabulary. Most of the words that stunned her were words I had picked up from reading books.
In Secondary school, I started to write poetry more often. The first poem I remember writing was about how the “love” between my crush and I could weather the hardest of times. (I can’t recall the content of this poem exactly), but I remember that it was a good poem. I don’t think I ever showed my crush.
Most of my writing at this time were the compulsory essays for academic purposes, and the occasional free verse poems. In my final year in secondary school, I offered Literature, even though I had no business with it as a science student, but I loved literature, and particularly enjoyed my literature classes.
At the University, my contact with the literary world was a bit hampered; I gained admission into an Engineering program, so I had less contact with courses that could feed my love for Literature and the arts in general. However, I wrote poetry still; in between my calculation sheets. One of my favorite poems till date was one I wrote to my romantic interest in Year Two. This time around, I showed her, and she melted and it felt really good. In Year Three, I started playing the guitar, and tried my hands at song writing. I composed a couple of really good songs if I do say so myself J. I intend to work more on my song writing personae in the future.
All this while, writing was more or less a hobby for me, something I enjoyed, but that quickly changed in Year Four. In the early days of my six months industrial training which I undertook in Abuja; I had not made many friends yet, and I spent a good amount of my time online, specifically, on Instagram. There, I encountered poets who actually took poetry seriously and were making a career out of it. Pages like Tolu Akinyemi’s (@poetolu) quickly caught my attention and I fell more in love with the art of writing poetry. So, I decided to become an “Insta poet” and I would live in my head all day trying to purposefully compose poems.
Before then, I only wrote when things “happened” to me especially when I was in my ‘’feelings’’. But the guys that were curating poetry on Instagram had too much fire content and I discovered they were not waiting for things to “happen” to them. They purposefully sat down to write Poetry and I decided to do so too. It was hard at first, but I had fun with it; trying to observe the world around me in a bid to write poetry. Listening to people’s stories and trying to find an angle that will connect with an audience.
It was a beautiful experience, and people started to like my work. I also realized that I felt more comfortable writing about romance. I wrote poems that covered other subjects matters also, but I had an affinity for love poems. I began to build an audience, and build content too.
Worthy of note is that somewhere along the line (in Year Two); I started a blog (stellarart009.blogspot.com) – now defunct. It eventually grew into the registered company I run today @vexscheworld. On this blog, I uploaded purely creative content in the areas of poetry and short stories which generated a lot of love from people.
In my final year at the University, I decided to release a book. However, I knew that my poetry had not gained as much exposure as I would have liked. Coincidentally, about that time, I was introduced to Jon Bellion’s music and while researching on him, I discovered that he distributed his first mixtapes for free in other to gain an audience and build a fan base. I decide to try and replicate that idea with my poetry. I started gathering a few of my poems, the ones mostly inspired my personal experiences and ta-dah……… Love Diary was born.
Because I happened to be a big lover of photography, I decided to incorporate it into in the project. I spoke to one of the best photographers in my school at the time and we reached an agreement. Some of my amazing friends also offered their help in different capacities and before I knew it I was ready to launch. Special thanks to “The African Writers” for their help with making this project a success.
On January 28, 2017, I released the book on Vexscheworld (The creative entertainment outfit I had founded earlier) and the reception was magical with the hash tag #lovediarybykoladepelumi everywhere. My followers spiked up in their hundreds, my DM was ablaze with messages, and for the next three or four days, I felt like a rock star. I fondly recall that sometime during that period, I was walking just a few blocks from my hostel, and I heard a girl giggle to her friend and said “that’s the love diary guy”; it was a pretty good feeling.
People continued to download the book and share positive feedback up until December 2018 when I took it down from the internet. It had fulfilled its purpose which was to create awareness about my poetry as I prepare to release my first hardcopy poetry collection titled “Only Just a Boy”. Nevertheless, because of the positive reception of Love diary, I plan to release a deluxe edition in paperback sometime soon too.
Love Diary landed me my first exhibition as a poet late in 2018 at the Lipton and African Artists Foundation tea party. I exhibited along sides rising writers such as Dami Ajayi, Rezthapoet, Oyinkan Braithwaite and other brilliant creatives. It was a surreal experience
I also launched my Poetry merchandise in 2018. I sell t-shirts and sweat shirts with my poetry inscribed on them and it has been a major success. I currently cannot service my demand so, I plan to expand my route to market soon. I will be launching an online poetry merchandise store to ease this process.
I will be also releasing Only Just a boy later this year, and I hope everybody who reads this article can come to the book launch. Once the plans are finalized I would get the word out.
My writing journey is a continuous process. The dream is to touch lives and make life more meaningful to anybody who reads any of my pieces. I also dream to have an international tour and sell out some of the world’s largest theatres. Yes, poetry is capable of pulling that kind of crowd, (Ask Rupi Kaur). The journey continues because I know that new horizons await my exploration and the best days are still yet to come.
You can connect with me on Instagram on @koladepelumi or check out my poetry page on @poetrybypelumi.