After three weeks of Spoken Word battle with 30 shortlisted poets in 2 semi finals and one cut-throat final, Wayne Samuel now tagged “I am The Godfather now” won the War of Words 6 Poetry Slam organized by i2x Media. He had a perfect score of 50 from the five judges in every round in the final. But interestingly he was in a tie with the 1st runner up Charly who equally had the same perfect scores. As a result of this, the two poets had to do a head to head to determine who the true champion was. At the end of this exercise, Wayne Samuel came out tops. We had a refreshing, inspiring and educative interview with him. Have a look.

Tell us about the Wayne Samuel that isn’t a poet?

Wayne is the quiet one at the back or very front of the room with a lot going on in his eyes but a blank expression on his face. He is an appreciator of God, art and in occasions beautiful women. Not an open book but an intense one for as many as get past the first page. Not a very big fan of football, religion, mainstream music or anything that encourages a hive mentality. Yet still a movie buff, reader and owner of the most eclectic music playlist on the planet earth. Proud founder of a community of Christian youth and clearly from the above is very interested in the subject that is himself.


What made you delve into spoken word poetry?

It was a way to talk to people without necessarily having conversations. It was a win win.

How long have you been doing poetry and what have you learnt in your journey so far?

I’ve been doing spoken word Poetry for about 3 years. I’ve learned that it has the power to really touch people, and it’s not so much a gift you have, but a gift you share.


How did you hear about the War of Words Slam and what inspired you to enter for it?

I was at War of Words season 5. People knew about it, people knew about me. They linked the two. I ran into the previous years winner. I was pretty confident it’d be a walk in the park. And it was, I just fell through. So my entering this years contest started out as a vicious vengeance, but overtime it became a matter of competence and making a statement – which again is that the hive mentality (which I felt at the time had enveloped the Spoken Word scene) cannot thrive in the face of creativity.

What would you say were the tools that gave you an edge over the other poets who participated?

Planning, strategy, God. Planning because I anticipated every turn of events, I had visualised every incident. I already knew I had won when there was a tie in the last round, because that was what I planned Plan A to be like. Strategy because with the level of competition it was too easy to want to always put your best poem forward, but I stuck to the plan, let the big guns run out of ammo, then unleashed my nuclear weapons. God because the other guys were so good, I had to believe in something bigger than myself to have any confidence on the mic. This I believe was the ultimate game changer. Lol, I was even speaking in tongues every break I got in the last round.


At the tie breaker round, one would think you knew beforehand what your opponent Charly wanted to perform, given how much your piece was the perfect clapback to his. Did you edit your piece on the spot or was it just sheer coincidence?

Coincidence and I edited the very first line. Wasn’t the first time I had to do that either. Everything from the coin toss to what Charly decided to go with was like the perfect set up for me, that’s the supernatural for you.

What has the post-winning experience been like ?

It’s been busy as hell on Armageddon. Between this and my 9 to 5 sometimes I just want to call it quits and say ‘Hey this rockstar life isn’t really what I’m looking for.’ But something Olulu said, about the victors of such competitions relaxing and losing it all haunts me. So I’m trying to steward the victory rather than let it overwhelm me.


Where do you get your inspiration from ?

I get my inspiration from great art, which could be anything from Jodi Piccoults Small Great Things novel, to The Weeknds melisma on The Star Boy album, to an abstract painting by one of my artiste friends. The art in society (the art of great oppression, or seduction) and the art going on in my soul also inspire me.

What is your writing kryptonite? 

It’s three things. Because I expose myself to great art, I sometimes get discouraged. Like am I worthy when these other people walk the face of the planet? Also sometimes I just want to go off, like too deep for human life, or so high that it fly’s over the audiences head, this is both a strength and a weakness, because it means I can be unorthodox, but at the same time there is the risk of being unrelateable. I recently wrote a short Story that metaphorically treats Nigeria’s educational system, and it’s great they tell me. But it’s like the only surviving child of quadruplets, because I have so many ideas in my head and only an abysmal number gets to see the light of day. That is the most debilitating weakness I believe, to conceive it but not birth it.

What would be your advice to upcoming Spoken word poets battling with memorizing poems and maintaining confidence on stage?

I write poetry like its music. That means there’s a rhythm, it’s like a song. When you do this it becomes a catchy tune that’s in your head. This way you can check out during performances because it’s the equivalent of singing absentmindedly in the bathroom. Also, record your stuff and listen to it over and over again, again-like music. As for confidence, there is so much arrogant garbage that is trending in the world that trust me, even if you’re terrible, you’re stellar in comparison. So even if you don’t have gold, never be afraid to show off your bronze to people that would probably trip for sand.

Tell us about three poets that inspire you.

Ezekiel Azonwu, he is the paragon of spoken Word Poetry to me. His elocution, content, gestures, everything, perfect. David Bowden because of the sophistication of simplicity. Finally Leonard Cohen, because he typifies what poetry is about, putting yourself, in all of its unfiltered glory, on paper.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

In the next ten years I will be my role models greatest competition. I will have established what is clearly a Media empire a la Sony and Disney, with strong holdings in cinema, television, music and publishing, permeating the world with my strain of creativity with Jesus bleeding into my craft. I will also be tagged in a post by African Writers where they will remind that I did everything I said I would.


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