Konya Shamsrumi: What is the process of writing a poem like for you? Is it a lot of hard work or easy?
Toyin Adewale-Gabriel: Sometimes its blood and tears; at other times, it falls easy like rain. I have note books, filled with the scraps of words. I try to catch the moments… a flock of birds on the wings of twilight, the moon majestic on a tableau of darkness. I am a scribbler. I go back to weave the various scraps into the cloth that becomes a poem.
Konya Shamsrumi: Please describe your sense of identity in this or any possible world in imagery or metaphor?
Toyin Adewale-Gabriel: First fruits. Sower. Nurturer of dreams
Konya Shamsrumi: If any of your poems could literarily save a person’s life, which poem would it be and can you describe the person whose life you think it would have saved?
Toyin Adewale-Gabriel: This poem will save a young #EndSARS would be protester from despair.
YOU CANNOT AVOID ME
I am your allowance at the assembly, the state of your house the whores at brothels, all shouts you invest on self you drink my blood, everyday, I am that crystal. I am your knife, your spoon, your fork though I never taste the fare of chefs. I, your peak cap, your rulers beads, gold decking your hands, how can you dodge me? I bear the gourmet choice to your rare car. my sweat tarred the tarmac for your sirened presence Of course, definitive statements are made when I barrow your rust to the dumps I, your nightmare, stain on different whites whether we meet or not, you cannot avoid me!
Konya Shamsrumi: What does Africa mean to you, as potential or reality?
Toyin Adewale-Gabriel: Heart’s cry, unending hope, a cradle where my voice is framed “like apples of gold in settings of silver’’
Konya Shamsrumi: Could you share with us one poem you’ve been most impressed or fascinated by? Tell us why and share favorite lines from it.
Mary Magdalene I by Boris Pasternak
I break my life before you
Like an Alabaster box.
These lines are so evocative, here is a love that withholds nothing and l literally hear that beautiful, precious alabaster box/life breaking whenever l read these lines.
Toyin Adewale-Gabriel was born in Ibadan, Oyo state. She was educated at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Her works include: Naked Testimonies; Breaking The Silence; Bitter Chocolate; 25 New Nigerian Poets and Nigerian Women Short Stories. Her work has been translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and Finnish languages. She was the co-founder and co-ordinator for several years of the Association of Writers of Nigeria. She has previously served as a member of the Executive of the Association of Nigerian Writers and as an Editor of the ANA Review.
Richard Ali is a Nigerian writer whose poems were first published in 2008. He has served in the National EXCO of the Association of Nigerian Authors and sits on the board of Uganda’s Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation. A member of the Jalada Writers Cooperative based in Nairobi, his work has been published in African Writing, Jalada, Saraba Magazine and elsewhere. The Anguish and Vigilance of Things is his debut collection, was published in 2020. He practices Law in Abuja, Nigeria.