Interview with Nigerian Poet, D.M Aderibigbe

Photo: D.M Aderibigbe

Photo: D.M Aderibigbe

Brief Biography:

Born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1989. He graduates with a B.A in History and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos in 2014. His poetry appears in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Folio, Hotel Amerika, Notre Dame Review, Poet Lore, Rhino, Stand, amongst others and has been featured on Verse Daily. He knows God loves you.

Geosi Gyasi: First, I am curious to know what D.M stands for?

D.M Aderibigbe: D.M. stands for Damilola Michael– my names. As at the time I began using D.M., I wanted my name to start sounding like a writer’s, haha.

Geosi Gyasi: You’re on the verge of graduating with an undergraduate degree in History and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos. Where from the love for poetry?

D.M Aderibigbe: Well, right from my primary school days I’ve been exposed to literature, I read Ralia the Sugar girl as an 8-year old (even though my parents were not educated). Then in my first year in high school we usually had an extensive literature class where we usually read several literature texts. But it was in my senior year that I came in contact with poetry. I read poems like “Is My Team Ploughing?” By A.E. Housman, “We Have Come Home” by Lenrie Peters, “Abiku” by J.P. Clark and numerous others. However, I didn’t write anything until after I graduated from high school, even though I fell in love with poetry during this period.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you plan to pursue literature or writing for your graduate studies?

D.M Aderibigbe: Yes! By God’s willing I intend to travel abroad, preferably The United States of America for an MFA in poetry and a Ph.D in Literature. In short, I want to be an intrinsic part of literature, like I want it to be a part of me till death do us part.

Geosi Gyasi: When did you start writing?

D.M Aderibigbe: Like I said earlier, I started writing about a year after I finished high school. Early 2008 to be explicit, I was 18 then. I started with essays and song lyrics. Then I delved into poetry. I didn’t write for long though before I stopped for no tangible reason. It took me another 3 years, before I resumed– this time I took it serious.

Geosi Gyasi: How do you get ideas for your poems?

D.M Aderibigbe: If you’ve read my poems closely, you’ll discover that many of them are pregnant with truth– hurtful truth. I know I’m not in a position to review my poems, however, what informs my poetry is my attempt to keep my pains alive. Yes! The pains I’ve experienced (not necessarily me), I just want the world to see my tortured past. As such, I see my poetry as a space to apologize to my past, present and my future.

Geosi Gyasi: How is your manuscript, My Mothers’ Songs and Other Similar Songs I Learnt’ coming forth?

D.M Aderibigbe: The manuscript is kicking well like a baby. It’s in the final stage of editing right now. What is left is to put the final touch to it.

Geosi Gyasi: Where do you get inspiration to write?

D.M Aderibigbe: Funny as it may sound, I really don’t have any rituals or any specific regiment before I start writing. I write when the mood comes– anywhere and anytime. It goes this way, I could write 3 poems in an hour and not write anything the subsequent week.

Geosi Gyasi: If you were challenged to name just one writer who has influenced you most, who would it be?

D.M Aderibigbe: Wow! This is the most difficult question I’ve been asked in a long time. Actually, there are three writers who have most impacted my craft, and mentioning just one of the three makes me sad. But for this purpose I would mention one, but it could have been either of the remaining two as well. So I’ll say Naomi Shihab Nye.

Geosi Gyasi: Are you boring to hang out with?

D.M Aderibigbe: Woo! No! I’m an effervescent guy and my friends can testify to that. I mean, even my online friends enjoy hanging out with me on Facebook and other social media; that tells it all.

Geosi Gyasi: Your poem, “Earthquake” has some beautifully crafted lines. How long did it take you to write it?

D.M Aderibigbe: Earthquake took me less than an hour to write, and that was it about Earthquake. I didn’t go back to edit it after. I should mention that when I wrote Earthquake, I was so so prolific and could write 7 poems in a day then. But of late, I have slowed down, because I realize it is quality over quantity in literature.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you depend on your study in History to write your poems?

D.M Aderibigbe: Not at all. Of course, at times historical events find their way into my poetry but I really do not depend on history at all. Poetry and history are two different things to me.

Geosi Gyasi: What inspired your poem, “Mathematician”?

D.M Aderibigbe: Actually the poem was inspired by an event I witnessed as a fresher in the university. That particular day I was going to get something from my hostel in the next hostel when I saw a couple of guys smoking weed. The poem grew from this scene because I was seeing a couple of guys who seem to be wasting their precious time there, instead of doing something more productive.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you come from a family of writers?

D.M Aderibigbe: Not at all. No one has ever written even a line of literary stuff; this includes my extended family. Somehow, I’m the first. I’m so chuffed that my younger ones are beginning to exhibit flair for writing.

Geosi Gyasi: What bores you most about writing?

D.M Aderibigbe: When I’m stuck.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you think there are enough writers in Nigeria?

D.M Aderibigbe: I love this question. Yes, there are so many great writers in Nigeria– both prose and poetry. I will love to focus on the emerging ones. From Chibundu Onuzo to Ejiofor Ugwu, Dami Ajayi to Rasaq Malik Gbolahan amongst others.

Geosi Gyasi: Among all the poems you’ve written, do you have a favourite?

D.M Aderibigbe: No, I don’t. All of my poems are my heart, regardless of how impeccable or flawed they appear.

Geosi Gyasi: Have you ever been rejected for your work?

D.M Aderibigbe: Of course. Every writer gets rejections. I get my own share too.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you remember the first piece of writing?

D.M Aderibigbe: Yes! A scholarly essay on Barack Obama before he became the president of America.

Geosi Gyasi: Tell me where you wrote “ Elegy for the Woman”? Where do you often write?

D.M Aderibigbe: I wrote “Elegy for the Woman” in my room, in the hostel. Concerning where I often write, I write anywhere, even while walking. Funny, but true.

Geosi Gyasi: What are your plans for the future?

D.M Aderibigbe: Well, after my first degree, I intend furthering my studies in Creative Writing abroad and make a career from writing, not necessarily a full-time writer, but an important one.


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