#WriterSpotlight – “I’m putting in more time and more effort so my work will not be taken for granted.” Igbor Clement

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Welcome to another interview series with The Sparkle Writers Hub. Our guest writer is doing so much with arts and we can’t wait to learn from him. 

Hello Clement. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?

I’m Igbor Clement, popularly known by my stage name Clemency Green and online alias ThatPoetClem. I’m a writer, poet, lyricist, event compere, fashion model and a medical student.

You are a poet and spoken word artist. How did you develop a passion for these two things?

Poetry and spoken word are one and the same. Poetry has a wide variety of forms. Spoken word poetry is simply a kind of poetry that is said out loud. I started writing poetry from my early childhood. I still have poems from my junior secondary school days. I grew up a voracious reader thanks to my parents. My dad has this mighty bookshelf and endless stacks of vintage magazines. My mum teaches literature and I took interest in it as a child (I still read her books). I write prose too. I used to run a number of blogs when I had more time. I still contribute to and serve as an editor for some print and online publications.

I took up spoken word as a profession sometime in 2013. In 2014, I contested in a War Of Words National Poetry Slam and finished 3rd. Since then, I’ve gone on to grace countless stages and feature on several radio and TV shows. I released my “official” debut track this year titled “Scars”, and I’m currently working on my E. P. alongside a poetry chapbook.

It is one thing to write poems, it is another to perform it for others to enjoy. What skills have you learnt because of spoken word?

I agree, writing is one thing and performance is another. However, it starts with the writing. My content has to be very good so I’m constantly editing and re-editing and exploring more and more literary devices. As a performer, I have to bring the words to life before the audience and a lot of work goes into that as well.  I have to rehearse regularly; movement, expressions, voice projection, modulation etc. My meagre background in Theatre helps a lot. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of event hosting and MC-ing and it helps to boost my crowd appeal and confidence.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My emotions. Anything that can make me feel, can make me write. Since there are countless things I can feel, there’s almost no limit to what I can write about. However, most of the work I share are about things that affect not just me but others as well.

Did you face any challenges in your journey and how were you able to overcome them?

A lot. Combining writing, performing and my other interests with pursuing a Medical Degree hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to learn how to my manage my time very well because sometimes, it’s a luxury.

Challenges like funding. The spoken word “industry” is still growing so artists are not paid much if they are paid at all. And we need the money. Planning shows, attending shows, recording audio, shooting videos and other media takes a lot of money.

Promoting poetry and spoken word has also not been easy but we’ve been pushing, putting the word out there as much as we can.

What do you love most about what you do?

Like I say in one of my pieces, “…the ills that come undone when I drop the mic (pen) and say ‘I’m done'”.

As a creative person, what are some of your frustrations with the way art is viewed in Nigeria?

It’s not encouraged as much as it should. That’s why no one tells their parents they want to be writers, poets or artists. There would be serious worries about your future. Nigerians do not appreciate art and literature as much as they should, especially financially. Also, the government and corporate bodies hardly give support because it’s not popular enough.

Creative people are more often than not taken for granted because people do not understand the amount of time and effort they put in their work. What do you think can be done to change this?

I’m thinking too, what can be done? You can’t take everybody through the creative process to see how hard it is. The work just has to speak for itself. I’m putting in more time and more effort so my work will not be taken for granted. Also, you have to value your art for it to be valued too. A lot has to go into branding and promoting as well.

What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?

Never underestimate the power of words. A writer is a very powerful person and that power should be well utilized. I’ve had feedback and testimonies that I never expected.

What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?

Inertia. I never understood that term in Basic Physics, but it makes sense now. You just have to start. Anyhow, anywhere, just start. Put that pen to paper, grab your keypads, climb that stage, grab that mic, just start! It keeps getting better after you’ve crossed the Rubicon.

 

If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

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#Writing Quote – “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper”

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“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper” – E.B White, Author of Stuart Little

The harsh truth is that there will never be “ideal conditions” to write the way you have fantasized about writing. There will always be challenges you have to face. These challenges are what makes your story as a writer interesting.

There will never be perfect conditions for writing that book you have always wanted to write. Ask writers who have successfully published a book. Yeah, we know you want to develop yourself and hone your writing skills so you can put words together perfectly, we know you want to wait till you get that brand new laptop you have been waiting for, we know you want to wait till you own a website before writing. And all of these things are good. However, do not make them your excuses for not writing.

Seriously dear writer, time is ticking. And even if you get all of these things you so crave for, something else will come up and it will be an endless cycle of waiting until you realize that you and time are no longer buddies.

Today’s quote is spot on. Stop waiting for ideal conditions. That is a mirage. Start with what you have right now (yes, even if it is just a pen and a paper); start where you are, and let the words flow out of your heart.

#Word of the Day – This is what ‘Mythomania’ means

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Hey Sparkle Writers! It is time to add one more word to your dictionary.

We came across this fabulous word and we thought it would be nice if you use it to spice up your writing. The word is “Mythomania” and it is pronounced this way /mɪθə(ʊ)ˈmeɪnɪə/.

Mythomania is a noun. It is an abnormal or pathological tendency to lie or exaggerate. Yes, there is a word for it. 

The word itself can actually be broken down into two constituents: Myth + mania.

The word has an origin. It is from the Greek “mythos (myth)” and “-mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze).”

Here is how the word is used in sentences:

John was taken to the hospital for another session with the psychiatrist. He was diagnosed with mythomania last year.

 

 

#PickOfTheWeek – Life and everything in between

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We are excited to show you today’s #PickOfTheWeek. Writers are really stepping up their game and we love it. 

The first piece we are featuring is by Sakinah. She reminds us of what we do as writers, building our legacy through writing and why we should not give up. Isn’t this just the truth? farmto table

The second writer addressed an issue that is becoming too common around us. Suicide. We love how writers are using their skill to speak the truth and spread peace.

 

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Sensei Fawx didn’t mince words writing this one. If you are looking for something to explain how fast life is. This one hit the nail on the head. It also reminds us that nobody will be here forever, 

 

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This last piece hit home. There are just no words for how apt it is. Short and precise. We definitely agree with Daniel. 

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If you are a writer and you post your work on Instagram, don’t forget to forget to tag @thesparklewritershub for a chance to be featured on our Pick of the Week.

 

#Grammar Series – The purpose of an ellipsis

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Hey Sparkle Writers, it is all about the Ellipsis on today’s #GrammarSeries. 

An ellipsis is a punctuation mark. It is a set of three periods (…) indicating an omission.

Ellipsis are to be used under specific circumstances. They are not to be overused or abused. This is because they have specific functions that they perform in any piece of writing. Today, we are going to be looking at the function of the ellipsis in informal writing.

The ellipsis can be used to represent a trailing off of a thought.

Example:

If only she had…oh, it does not matter anymore.

The ellipsis can also be used to indicate hesitation in speech as well as in writing.

Example:

He was about saying…never mind. He was just not interested in the movie.

Please note that these examples are for informal writing. 

See you next week.

Against all odds, this is how to keep writing

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We are here with a million dollar question to ask and it goes thus: Why do you write what you write?

Knowing the purpose behind everything you do matters a great deal because purpose keeps you going even when the tides are against you in the vast ocean of life. It is often said that if the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. As cliché as this may sound, there is a whole lot of wisdom we can glean from this as writers.

Knowing the reason you are on earth sets you off in the right direction. If you know, for example, that you were born to be a singer, you will find yourself going to voice coaching classes or a music school to hone your skill and no matter how many times you may have been rejected in one of those singing-related programmes, your purpose will drive you towards being a great singer even if the entire world does not believe in it.

That is our point exactly. Knowing why you write is magical. It will propel you to write even when the odds are against you. Dear Writer, never lose sight of the reason why you write. It is essential that you remind yourself of the reason for writing. The truth is this: understanding purpose when it comes to your writing will keep you standing even in the midst of the storms of rejection, lack of encouragement, lack of huge sales and even the lack of inspiration.

So, we ask again, why do you write what you write? Think slowly and carefully about it because it makes all the difference.

These tips will make your readers love your blog!

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Let us face it. All bloggers want their blogs to be read, loved and adored. It is not a bad desire; after all, the whole point of blogging, apart from the need to probably express your own views and opinions, is to connect with your readers. There is that innate desire to feel like your blog is indeed loved. This translates to your work being appreciated by other people who are not in your family and friend circle. We’ve got the answer if this is what you want to achieve.

Know that your blog is beyond you

If you want people to love your blog it is only logical that you consider these people in your writing. You have to ask yourself, “What category of people am I interested in capturing?” And by capturing, we mean getting a hold of their heart and attention. There are so many categories of people to focus on: bloggers, teenagers, Christians, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, poets, bankers, nursing mothers, singers and the list goes on and on. The main point is this: you need to really care about what your target audience cares about and write about what your target audience can relate with.

Learn the indispensable art of humour

You cannot escape this art as a writer. It is important that you learn how to infuse humour into your write-ups. Humour has a way of brightening things up. It is refreshing. If you want people to love your blog, you have to leave them with an impression – the kind that would have them wanting more of what you have got to offer. Let every single one of your blog posts leave them with a smile on their faces or with some ribs cracked, however the case may be.  We are not asking you to fake it, but the more you blog the better you’d become at this.

Respect punctuation marks

We had this Grammar Series on the real purpose of commas last week. You can check it out right here. This is so important. Punctuation marks help your target audience get your message clearly without their having to go through mental torture trying to grasp your point. Use them appropriately. Please remember this, when it comes to punctuation, you are not allowed to freestyle!

#WriterSpotlight – Farida Ladipo-Ajayi has loved reading since she was a child, now she is helping other children to love reading too

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Who considers television boring? Farida! As a genuine bookworm Farida would rather get lost in books than watch television. Today, she is living the life of her dreams, working in a bookstore and helping others to love reading. Enjoy our interview with her. 

Hello Farida. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi. My name is Farida Ladipo-Ajayi. I am married and have 2 boys age 5 and 1 respectively. I am the founder of The Bookworm Café. The Bookworm Café is a children’s reading club that motivates kids to be readers who aspire to change the world because of the impact that books have made in their lives. Our main focus in all our reading clubs is to bring fun and reading together so that children who see reading as boring are inspired to read for pleasure. In addition to our clubs, we run a virtual library where we loan books to kids. We also have an online bookstore where we sell only titles that we pick because of the impact they will make in the children’s lives.

What inspired you to start The Book Worm Café?

I have always loved to read. Growing up, I considered TV boring and would rather get lost in a book. I used to read any and everything at my disposal even my Father’s MBA books. For me, the ideal life was working in a bookstore or library (as seen on TV) where I could read for a living. I knew I wanted to raise my kids to be readers. I bet anyone who loves to read will want to raise kids who read. When I was pregnant with my first child, I researched ways to raise kids who loved to read and consistently everyone said read out loud to your kids. When he was born I started reading to him bit by bit from about 3 months old. This experience was actually like a training. I learnt how to choose books for kids, how to have a book discussion with children in a way that does not make it feel like a quiz, how to read to kids, how to extract fun activities from books and so much more. In  2016 I applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program and I filled in what was an idea at the time, starting a book club/library for kids. To my surprise, my idea was picked and the mentorship and funding I received from the program led me to bring this idea to life.

Can you take us through some of the things you do at The Bookworm Café?

My typical day is very busy because on a daily basis I get questions from parents and teachers about what kinds of books their kids should be reading and tips for getting kids to read. I find myself hand-picking books for kids. Obviously, this means I need to read a lot for me to able to recommend a book to a child. My typical day also includes developing creative and fun ways to get kids to read in our reading clubs. I come up with activities, themes and book lists that we use in all our reading clubs. Thankfully I have an operations manager who helps me with the administrative side of things and some technical bit as well. She is a blessing.

Why is it important for children to imbibe good reading habits from an early age?

I think it is super important for kids to imbibe good reading habits from an early age because using myself as an example, majority of the things I knew while I was growing up was not taught to me in school. I read far and wide and this helped me to be outstanding academically. Also, a good reading habit takes discipline and that discipline in kids goes a long way in helping them to choose between wrong and right. You find that children who read a lot, because they love to read not because they are forced to read are usually very well behaved and very smart.

With the growth in technology, more kids prefer to play games on iPads and phones than reading books. What do you think can be done to change this?

I will be very honest here. Ipads, games, gadgets and so on tend to be much more appealing to anybody than books. So it’s no surprise that kids find it difficult to choose books over devices and media. It’s difficult to make that choice even for an adult. I always encourage parents to start very early to build a reading culture in their homes. Read to your children from when they are very young, model a good reading life as parents, fill your house with good books and limit the distraction, have set times for reading every day, have gadget-free times, have a corner for books in your car, discuss books with your children. All these help to change this trend towards media and gadgets.

What role do parents play in ensuring that their children love to read?

Parents play a very vital role in ensuring that their children love to read. Parents need to model a healthy reading life for their kids to see. Kids copy their parents a lot, so when your child sees the level of importance you place on books, they are likely to copy that. Parents who buy books for their children not because the school says they should buy books but because they genuinely want to raise kids who read, those parents are showing their children that books are important. Parents who read to their children also show their kids that they think books are important.

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You provide books for parents to either buy or rent. How has this service been received?

When I started, my plan was to run reading clubs and kids would be allowed to borrow books. I  got a lot of requests from parents who wanted to buy instead of rent as their kids loved our books so we included a bookstore into our offering. The renting option was new at the time and our parents received it very well because it saves them thousands of Naira monthly.

What are your future plans for The Bookworm Café?

We have a lot of plans in the pipeline that are just plans for now and nothing concrete but in the next two years we want to start publishing very good homegrown children’s books written by Africans and about Africans. We want to celebrate and encourage our own and bring their work out there especially children writers.

Are there any challenges you faced when you started? How were you able to overcome them?

The Tony Elumelu Foundation program gave me a good start and helped me overcome most of the challenges common to starting up. Our major challenge really has been managing our library offering. We have suffered major losses from that part of the business because sometimes the books are not returned at all or they are returned in very poor condition and we have to dispose them. As much as we did not want to, we have had to introduce a refundable deposit which our members bear for incidents like these.

If you could only make one choice, which book will you choose as the best you have ever read?

Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White anytime any day. It’s a sad book, it made me cry but it also made me laugh the hardest I’ve ever laughed because of a book. Whenever I recommend books for kids from age eight upwards I’m likely to throw in that book because it’s a powerful book that every library should have.

 

If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to thesparklewritershub@gmail.com. 

#Writing Quote – ”There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

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”There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou, I know why the Caged Bird Sings

We know this is a popular quote but the message still holds true.

It is quite unfortunate that a lot of writers have died with untold stories, stories that struggled to breathe, stories that were shut up in their bowels simply because they felt the words that made up these stories were not worthy enough to be read, heard, experienced and felt.

Dear writer, it is time to give those words the freedom to breathe. It is time to tell the world your story. Do not keep on bearing untold stories inside of you. Listen to the words of Maya today. It is time to give life to your stories. Rise up to the occasion, stare brazenly at your laptop screen and type away. Type for that one person who needs to hear your story to snap out of that depressed state or that suicidal thought.

Never underestimate the power of your story.

 

#Word of the Day – Let’s talk about what misanthrope means

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Hey there!

Today, our interesting word is “misanthrope.” If you look really closely at this word, you can tell that it is related to the word “anthropology” which means the study of humans. The word “misanthrope” is pronounced /mis∂nƟ∂up/.

Misanthrope is a noun used to refer to a person who hates all mankind and humanity in general. This is a formal word, derived from Greek misanthrōpos “hating mankind” from misein “to hate” plus anthrōpos “a man.” From the same root, we get the English word anthropology.

If you make a statement or do something that is particularly hostile or untrusting, you can call that misanthropic.

Here is how it is used in sentences.

Examples:

 I do not know of any sane person who would publicly declare himself a misanthrope.

Do not be deceived into thinking that a misanthrope could have genuine love for you.