Hello Guys, Welcome to another Edition of People of Ibadan where we talk to wonderful individuals repping the city positively. Today we would be speaking with a wonderful poet and writer. His name is Servio Gbadamosi, winner of the 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for Poetry and author of the poetry collection, A Tributary in Servitude.
My name is Servio Gbadamosi. I’m a poet and culture practitioner. I work with emerging writers and I head Winepress Publishing. I was born and raised in Ibadan, got a degree in Mass Communication from Olabisi Onabanjo University and also another degree in African studies from the University of Ibadan.
I grew up amidst books. There was always a book lying around the house while I was growing up. I showed interest in reading quite early and one of the first books I read besides school books was King Solomon’s Mines. I was just reading without any intention of writing. When I got into the university, my expectations were not met and school was a bore for me. So, I registered with the departmental library and started reading up on books that interested me. From there, I started experimenting with writing. This was about 13 years ago. It was mainly out of boredom and from reading those books, I started feeling like I could write. I tried to write a number of essays but they didn’t come as naturally as poetry did. So over time, I have learnt to stick with my area of strength.
What does being a writer mean to you?
Writing is self-expression for me, a vehicle to express my thoughts, visions and aspirations. It allows me to articulate a vision for my society, my experiences and my own aspirations as an individual. It is a vehicle for communicating the things I want to talk about, beauty, ugliness, joy, sorrow, politics and so on.
Do you think there is a good platform for writers out there in this generation?
I think this is one of the best times to be a writer because there are lots of platforms out there that are suitable for the promotion of quality writing. More than ever before in history, technology has created an opportunity for sharing new writings. Anyone can create a blog now and share their writings. You can use different platforms like facebook and twitter or tumblr. Technology has democratized publishing, which is increasingly cheaper and more accessible for writers. This also has its own issues, because of the kind of discipline that goes into honing your craft before sharing it with the world. A lot of emerging writers now share their initial drafts on these platforms and because people like and share these posts, they begin to think they have become successful writers. I’m not saying they are not successful, but this is a poor index to measure success because it deprives the writer the opportunity to learn patience and devote more time to developing his/her craft.
Do you think the quality of literature out there has been affected?
The unique experiences we are facing right now are different. A lot of people now write speculative fiction, magical realism, science fiction other than the traditional literary literary fiction I grew up reading. Technology enables us to imagine and explore far greater realms and possibilities in our writings. These things will have a great and far-reaching impact on how our creativity is deployed and to what use. Because it’s opening up new vistas and these vistas come with their challenges. And with time, they would evolve and be nurtured into new schools of thought while some may eventually die off.
What do you think poetry will become in the next ten years?
There are poets who now release their poetry books with a selected reading and/or performance of these poems of an audio CD or even DVD. So I believe the mode of expression for poetry and for every form of literature will become more interactive. New media forms that will combine elements of text, sound, visuals, and pictorials will be explored further. Already, electronic books are becoming more interactive. So, the future of writing and publishing would be more interactive as it would allow readers to engage with both the author and the content in newer, better ways.
TRIBUTARY IN SERVITUDE
It’s a collection that is deeply personal for me. There are books that you write and there are some that choose to be written. I believe this book chose to be written. The poems that made it into the book are a journey of self-discovery. Not just a discovery of myself, but also how I got to find, interpret and engage with my society. That exploration led me to question myself, my society, and the people around me. So it was a journey of self-discovery.
Do you believe the book has had the impact you wanted it to?
So far the feedback from people has been quite encouraging. I think my job as a writer is done when the book is completed. The multiple layers of meaning and interpretation readers give to it is not something I can or seek to control. So, I’m fulfilled when readers find and explore the work on their own terms.
How did you feel about the ANA award you got for the book?
I didn’t write the book to win an award. Awards are good and serve as an incentive to encourage one to put in more work. But what we need to do in this country is to build the writing, literary and publishing industry into formidable institutions and not just awards. We really don’t have an industry yet and we need to build these institutions for us and the coming generations.
Plagiarism is one of the challenges a writer faces, how do You handle that?
If you are not willing to lose some, how would you win some? If you have your writings locked up, how will you be able to know that what you’re writing is good enough and make adjustments as appropriate? I think the new technology would reduce the avenues of plagiarism. There is always going to be that risk. One thing we know as writers is that there is a personal signature unique to every writer. If anybody plagiarizes your work, get back to work and recreate it. The idea is original to you and you can always find new ways of expressing it. You can also look at credible platforms that give you first authorial rights and you can always make reference to that.