Sparkle Writers, are you ready for today’s #WriterSpotlight? Our guest, Todimu Ikuyinminu. is a writer, poet, thespian and … a wack poet! Yeah, we asked him why he calls himself that. Find out why as you enjoy his interview with us.
Hello please introduce yourself.
I am ‘Todimu George Ikuyinminu which is clipped as T. G. ‘Yinminu, a postgraduate degree holder of English from the English Department of the prestigious University of Ilorin. I am a professional creative, content developer and thespian who has led at different capacities and performed brilliantly well. However, I remain trainable and always open to knowledge acquisition.
Your IG handle is ‘The Wack Poet’ what inspired the title?
About theWACKpoet, erm… each time I am asked to explain why I chose this moniker, of all the more pleasant ones I could have adopted, I laugh at myself. The reason is because, in all honesty, I did not spend time to consider the choice of it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually thought about it but I am saying I did not realise that one day someone will ask me the rationale behind it. Well, there are two reasons for the choice of this moniker.
The first is the literal meaning of it, “the wack poet”. I have always been a shy fellow and it took a lot of time, and comments from readers, for me to be confident about my craft. Hence, I surmised that if I accept my own weakness(es) before the public spells them out to me, it will be easy for me to distance myself from the negative vibes that may come. However, ever since I summoned courage to exhibit my content, I have not received “bad feedback”. On the other axis, theWACKpoet is an acronym. It is a simple sentence, so to speak, it is simply saying: The Witty, Astute, Calm and Knowledgeable Poet. On a general note, I feel all creative writers must possess at least one of the qualities coded in the meaning of “theWACKpoet”. A few people get this even without knowing what theWACKpoet means.
You are a creative writer, poet, public speaker, dramatist, artistic director, how do you combine all these?
First off, let me align myself with these words of the renowned poet of blessed memory, Maya Angelou who said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
I hope you will agree with me that all these ‘shades’ of my ventures listed above revolve round the humanities; which is my educational background. They all revolve around entertainment and creative output, therefore to me, if I am writing (a speech, a lecture, a poem, a play, a dialogue) for instance, I am also indirectly preparing content for the stage; the audience; the readers; the viewers; the participants, as the case may be. For me it is always like “using one stone to kill five birds”.
However, I am able to combine all these because I feel that man is best at whatever he is talented/skilled at and loves to do. It is like being a roadside mechanic in Nigeria. A roadside mechanic in Nigeria can repair a Renault car this minute and work on a Mercedes Benz car the next minute. I hope the analogy is clear. So, in short, every venture I am engaged in indirectly helps become better at the other ventures. For instance, acting on stage gives me more confidence to face the crowd when I’m speaking at an event. Being a creative writer gives me more insight into creative/artistic directing thus as I imagine and block scenarios, I represent them to the best of my knowledge on stage and with the actors.
In your bio we see that you have a bias for poetry, why is this so?
At a point in my growth, I never thought I was capable of writing poetry. My creative impulse started when I was in Junior Secondary School, and at that time I used to write short plays in a 60-leaves exercise book. I would give the books to a few of my classmates, mostly females, they would read and then recommend it to their friends. Then, I came about one of my neighbour’s poem, Dr. Gbenga Owojori (Ph.D a scientist) when I was in SS3. I took the poem and “edited” it. I enjoyed “editing” the poem so I decide to write one myself. It was an exciting experience. And that was how I started writing poems in exercise books hidden under my clothes in my wardrobe.
I recently got to know that writing poetry is hereditary for me because my late paternal grandmother used to write poems, and I also have a younger brother who has also been captured by the loving, soothing, and peacefully troublesome embrace of poetry.
The bias for poetry is inexplicable really, poetry is something I can do even under pressure. It is an attraction that is as easy as breathing in and out for me.
Your poetry house Aranbada hosts a poetry festival, please tell us more about it.
Let me say something brief about Aranbada Poetry House (APH) before I talk on Aranbada Poetry Festival as it will shed light on the question asked. Aranbada Poetry House is founded solely based on the need to create a platform that encourage creative arts, and creative writing, in the new generation of African (Nigerian) writers/artistes. The youth of today face many silent problems, these border on the scarcity of genuine art materials that will inspire and guide their creative ability. Aranbada Poetry House, seeks to ignite the passion for art and creativity in this generation of youths who are lured by the fantasies of the modern world to the detriment of the arts, creativity and its tendencies.
Aranbada Poetry Festival is just one of the platforms APH is offering, others include Aranbada Poetry Series (Poetry Anthology), Aranbada Poetry Magazine (poetry events, poets features), Aranbada Poetry Tutors’ Campaign, and Aranbada Poetry 1/2Hour set to kick off soon. Aranbada Poetry Festival (APFest) is a biennial art event. APFest is open to all artists, and the only criteria to partake is for the person to be an artist. APFest is more of a breeding platform for artists to interact with one another and meet mentors. Interestingly, the coming edition will, as planned, have great artistes like Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Olu Obafemi, Professor Tanure Ojaide, Olulu and other established artists in attendance.
With the right funding, the vision of APFest is to be a national art event.
How was the reaction to the first edition?
The first edition was a huge success. It had many emerging artists in attendance and an audience strength of about 160. The first edition was held in honour of Professsor Olu Obafemi, my mentor and the President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, thus it received widespread acceptance from scholars in the academia so much that some lecturers in the host university partook as performers at the event.
You are quite outspoken on social media how has this helped improve your writing skill?
Social media, a place where anybody can be somebody. Unfortunately, I am not really as outspoken on social media as I am in person. However, one cannot underestimate the power of the social media in the 21st century clime, my presence on social media has affected my writing immensely. As a budding writer, there was a time I could not summarise my thoughts, I would write poems and I won’t stop until I literally left no room to probe the creative interpretation of the reader but when I got exposed to the social media, I had to start compacting my writing hence I got better at the use of stylistic poetic devices.
Social media also affords one the opportunity of freely accessing the works of other writers. For instance, recently, I decided to study the works of @desolape on Instagram and soon enough I composed a poem in the same fascination she has, but not in the same style she employs though.
Also there is the role of poetry prompts that circulate on social media. This at least challenges one to practice more.
Many believe writing is not financially rewarding what’s your take on this
Without mincing words, writing is not a venture that one should expect much reward from, which is quite discouraging for many emerging writers. When you sit to analyse the rate at which young people dabble into the entertainment industry just because of the fame and perceived fortune that comes with it nowadays, one would want to almost conclude that there will not be young creative writers in the nearest future, and same applies to the sciences. All the impressionable minds are running to the entertainment industry to make watery music which further destroys all sanity and decorum that the typical African society treasures.
As much as I am of the opinion that writing should not be about the financial reward but be a purgative enterprise that seeks to help shape our society better through the codification of reasonable heartfelt expressions and perceptions that will inspire the reader(s), I am not against getting some financial reward for it. It is quite disheartening that the Nigerian system has no established structure to boost the intellectual industry, thus many intellectuals lose focus and are made to diversify. I have come to the conclusion that indeed there are many creative artists in Nigeria that can mentor and raise more for the future but the mentors do not have time to do so because even the mentors are busy chasing their daily bread not to mention the fate of the mentee.
What’s the one thing you wish every creative could hear
Your craft is your strongest voice in the midst of unending unrest. Stand by it, guard it, groom it and most of all, use it. Stay true to it, it will set you free even if the world is not ready for freedom. Mind you, the leaders of today are those who have stayed true to their voice, the future already started the very day you were matured enough to think about your future.
What’s your ultimate dream as a writer?
I am sure every writer’s dream will be to be successful and renowned, yes we all want that, probably win a Laurette, or a prize. However, my ultimate dream as a writer has always been to be a writer that inspires emerging writers. It is like being a pastor who has raised many “spiritual sons”, or a Commandant who has raised many combatants ready to take on the battle field and conquer the world.
The ultimate dream is to sit in the nearest future, look back and count my blessings; the many writers that would have picked the ultimate pen because “if T. G. ‘Yinminu can do it, I can do it too”.