It was March 31, 2012, the place was Chrysalis Place, an exclusive restaurant in Old Bodija while the event was the ‘Artmosphere’: an avant-garde literary event with the March theme ‘City of Words’. The event started with general introductions by everyone. To get things rolling, co-anchor, Olukayode Servio Gbadamosi (a performance poet) read from the opening passage of Amos Tutuola’s The Palmwine Drinkard much to the amusement of the audience.
The first performance came from Haastrup, an English student and poet of the University of Ibadan. He read his poems, which though laden with much thoughts and seemed deep was belied by the reading of the poet.
Hyginus Ekwuazi, film critic, scholar, multiple-award winning poet and writer was the star of the event. He was accompanied by his friend and fellow poet, Su’eddie Vershima Agema who offered a poetry rendition of four captivating poems; ‘Tales One Shouldn’t Tell Often’, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Wrinkled Star’, ‘Bring Our Casket Home’and‘Let there be Light’. Su’eddie who is the Vice Chairman of the Benue State Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors was lauded by the audience for his ability to present his poems in simple, realistic and emphatic words. Agema is also a development practitioner with a strong online presence and has been published in several anthologies, both online and print.
Ayokunle Emoruwa, author of Living in the Restaurant noted that she observes and tries to understand contemporary issues, “I try to break complex issues to simpler ones, and it just flows out unconsciously. I don’t write poems but I write, when I think about society, I try to simplify trends and it flows out unconsciously”. She read her notes, ‘Dear Parents Teach Us, Our Mother Tongue’, for her “native language removes from limitations in the future-for language makes you understand the heart of the native”. She also read “Love in the Nursery”. Ayokunle usually creates vivid imageries that can be harnessed for children’s understanding of the issues happening around them. She relates different ideas in a familiar way.
‘Debisi ‘Degbohun, a fiction writer and poet presented an elegiac poem, ‘Akogun Okunrin-Ogun’, about a warrior who died for his society. Debisi who is also a business consultant informed the audience that he is still learning the ropes and that a writer must not assume “he has arrived”. ‘Debisi has read his poems at several literary and music events in Ibadan, alongside folk music act, Babatunde, Afrofolk musician, Beautiful Nubia, and the late performing poet and writer, Ify Omalicha.
Popular and dynamic, alternative music act, Dtone Martins performed several of the songs in his upcoming album. The anchor described him as “one of Nigeria’s finest alternative musicians”. Dtone, a AfricSoul artist, noted that his music is motivated by “things I see around, books I read and my friends”. Dtone has performed at several art exhibitions, literary events and other events. He performed his soulful songs, Kati Kati and Kosia san(‘there is no illness’).
It was time for the star to take his throne. Hyginus Ekwuazi praised the organizers for putting the event together. He gave copies of each of his titles to all the members of the audience. He noted that it was only right for readers to follow the reading if it was to make sense. (Adjunct Associate) Professor Ekwuazi is the author of four collections of poetry, three plays and a coming of age novel, I’ve miles to walk before I sleep. He has won the ANA-Cadbury Poetry Prize twice and also the ANA-NDDC/Gabriel Okara Poetry Prize twice. He was shortlisted for the NLNG Literature prize in 1999.
Ekwuazi spoke about his poems explaining that “You have a trilogy in Love Apart, Dawn into Moonlight and The Monkey’s Eyes. You have the same persona, the same worldview-its like a trilogy”. He noted some influence from Okigbo in his Love Apart: “In Love Apart, you have a persona who is separated from the lover, the title itself is gotten from some amous lines of Okigbo”. However “given the period it was written,…we have some kind of social realism that this lover who is away, critiques his society in meeting his lover, like you have in Dennis Brutus’ Letters to Martha”. These books juxtapose the imageries of love and life with the seemingly distant realities of politics and economics.
Furthermore, some of Ekwuazi’s poems present a recollection of universal memories and a celebration of words that birth the philosophy of living. He also talked about the spate of violence, the social awareness of the society-questioning and revealing the innards of hypocrisy of society. His book That Other Country is a collection on the Biafrian civil war.
Ekwuazi read a few poems from Love Apart and recommended other poems from his other collections for the audience who seemed engrossed with his reading to go ahead and read.
The audience also spoke about Osundare’s Katrina experience in relation to personal disasters experienced of other poets.
Artmosphere is an avant-garde literary development initiative based in Ibadan. It was an opportunity for literary enthusiasts and writers to connect, interact and synergise ideas. It was also leverage for those who only knew themselves through the mirage of social media and have never met themselves before to connect with full validity. There was poetry, music, and good food with drinks to match and make the March edition tagged ‘City of Words’ a fun-filled event. The event was co-anchored by Olukayode Servio Gbadamosi and Femi Fairchild Morgan, spoken word poets. The audience who were at the event was mostly bankers, business development experts, publishers, doctors, intellectuals and literary enthusiasts from all works of life.
- Tales in Memories, the Lyrics of Thoughts: in Lieu of an Exploration of Hyginus Ekwuazi’s That Other Country (sueddie.wordpress.com)
- MUST ATTEND: VICTOR EHIKHAMENOR AND MAIK NWOSU BOOK n GUAGE (15th December 2012) (sueddie.wordpress.com)
- Victor Ehikhamenor will be at Book N Gauge 18: Real Words (parresiablog.wordpress.com)
- Women in Literary History: Alice Corbin Henderson, Poet, Mother, Activist, Curator (juliejordanscott.typepad.com)
- Poetry and me – what it’s about #444 (malcolmmillerspoems.com)
- Writing Advice from Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate 2004-2006 (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)
- More than rhyme (thehindu.com)
- Arts and Its Universality: a Conversation  (sueddie.wordpress.com)
- Poetry Friday: “Not So Easy” (mattforrest.wordpress.com)
- How could you: Goodbye my love! (ofsol.wordpress.com)