Arts & Entertainments

Why I wrote Confessions: Love poems for lovers, by Okoduwa

Mature Tanko Okoduwa is a Nigerian poet, playwright, literary critic, artist, art historian, actor, activist and theoretical scientist. He has acted in Nollywood and on many stage plays. A former general secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors, his works have been published in print, anthologised and published online. He is a product of the ‘Nsukka School of Art’ (Umu-Uli), University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He spoke with TONY OKUYEME on his poetry, love and passion for writing

You’ve written a lot of books, can you take us through your literary trajectory?

For now my body of work comprises six collections of poems; Our Poisoned Love (2005), Crucible (ed., 2005), Drums of Heart (2009), Radical Rhythms (ed., 2010), An Island of Self (2013), Confession (2016); and two plays; Deep Room and Other Plays (2002) and Lamentations of Onajite (2010)

Let’s talk about Confessions: Love Poems for Lovers, what inspired it, and why the title Confession?

Love of course. Love is a universal language that takes different dimensions and affects people differently. I have been loved immensely and I have loved foolishly. All I have tried to do is to capture love as fleeting and permanent as it could be, from the silent voice, to the loneliness of missing a loved one, to the love for a face, a beautiful mind and the solitary needed to reach great heights. Confession for me, as at the time of thinking of a title, was the most befitting title that I could think of. I also believe that poets can relate more to love, and as such have written countless love poems that have endured times and seasons. This book is written for those that have truly loved and beloved. At a point, I thought of naming the book ‘Beloved.’ But on a second thought, Toni Morrison has a lovely book by that title. So, I buried the thought, once and for all.

What are ‘Your Thoughts’ about love, as written in this book?

That love is worth dying for. That if you believe in you heart of heart that you truly love someone then go for it, give it a shot. Just like I wrote somewhere in “An Island of Self. ‘No man finds love / Love comes to all.’

What is the poem, Nwanma about and why was it so important to include it in this collection?

Like every other poem therein, it is about love, hence the title. I would prefer that the readers find out for themselves. So, let me write a bit of the poem here, if you do not mind: Wake me not Though light is leaving my eyes And the wind is riding On my back And I, on yours For further reading, I would recommend they buy a copy and find out more about the book.

Any personal experience in these poems?

Every poet or writer at one point or another has written about his or her personal experience or experiences. I do not think that I am different.

How did your journey as a poet began?

I think it was in my early days at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; that was barely a year after my eldest sister, Esther Okoduwa, passed on. My heart was heavy with pain and I started to scribble something down in my notebook. One of my roommates, Mark, saw, read it and liked it. That was B2 room 207, Alvan Ikoku Hall. I later started a poetry group called; “Poetic Signboard,” that grew to include members from different faculties. I was the founding editor.

What is your view on the dip in the reading culture in Nigeria?

I have never been a member of that school of thought that believes that there has been a decline in the reading culture in Nigeria. Nigerians are readers. Maybe, majority of them tend not to read literature, but they read other kind of writings

Do you have any particular time of the day or night that you write better?

I write better in the mornings or very late into the night. And some scattered ones during the day. I do collate them in the night or mornings, especially poetry.

What is your advice for budding writers?

This is not a profession for a man in a hurry. Writer needs patience, dedication and perseverance. And remember, every good writer is a voracious reader and a keen observer.

How have you been able to surmount the changes of publishing?

It has not been easy, especially with the economic depression. Well, I have a publishing house that takes care of my output. (Writings) Sales have been fairly stable.

What are your thoughts about the creative process?

Creative writing offers one/me the opportunity to use my imaginative power to creatively express my feelings and ideas in a way that it will be captivating to all. Helping the readers to explore themselves and test new ideas as propounded by the writer or writers like me.

What really drives you as a writer?

The need to document my generation and my thoughts for generations yet unborn to read and study. I have always believed that my voice cannot be silenced and I do not want other people to tell my own stories. I want to tell them myself, in the best possible way that I can.




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