#WriterSpotlight – “It’s lovely to know that even when I am gone, generations to come can get an insight into my mind.” Tolu Akinyemi

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Hey Sparkle Writers. It is time for one of our favorite segments on the the Sparkle Blog, #WriterSpotlight.  Much more than we could have imagined, this series has helped us gain insights into the life of many amazing writers. Today’s guest is no exception. 

He is an outstanding writer and we are honoured to feature him on this platform. If you do not like poetry, we’d ask that you look for any of Poet Tolu’s poems. You will definitely change your mind. 

Enough of the talking; let’s go straight to his interview. 

Hello Tolu, please introduce yourself to us.
My name is Tolulope Akinyemi, also known as Poet Tolu. I’m a writer and a poet and a few other things. I am a Nigerian who currently lives in the United Kingdom.

We did a little snooping around on your blog and found out that you are a writer, architect, and entrepreneur. Can you please take us through the process, how do you do all these simultaneously?
I write mostly at night and it helps that for some years till now, I’ve learnt to get by on a few hours of sleep daily. It also helps that I’m a single man without family commitments yet. My time is completely mine. I write by night and do the other things by day.

Do you think you were born to be a born writer?
As a kid I really wanted to learn to play the piano, but my parents couldn’t afford to buy one. I would arrange my mum’s cooking pans in a line on the floor, turning them into a kind of ‘percussion piano’ but it obviously wasn’t a real piano. The interest died out eventually, and I didn’t become a piano prodigy that I might have become if we had a piano in my home and I also had an opportunity to learn it. Perhaps people are born with talents, but I think what we call talent is usually opportunity that met interest (voluntary or induced) that became a passion. Growing up, we didn’t have a piano in my home, but we had books, tons of them and I read them all, including the ones in Yoruba, my native language. Did that contribute to me becoming a writer? I think so, and that lends some credence to my earlier hypothesis about opportunity, interest, passion and talent.

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You have written three books, which was the toughest for you to write?
The first one. Not the writing per se, but being new to writing and publishing. There was a slight learning curve with many things I needed to understand.

We know that you write poetry for those who seemingly ‘hate’ poems how well has this worked out?
The amount of positive feedback I get suggests it’s been working out well. Many people avoid the poetry genre not because they don’t enjoy reading but because they find it tedious, obscure and difficult to understand or relate to. Remove that, and they enjoy poetry almost as much as any other genre they love to read.

Did you have to train yourself to write simple yet profound stories or does it come naturally?
In a way, I had to learn to understand my audience and define what my own style would be.

We know you loved reading since secondary school in Akure when you smuggled library books so let’s play a little game;

Enid Blyton or Charles Dickens
Enid Blyton (because of the fond memories from my childhood)

Playing football or reading a novel during the weekends?
Tennis

Fiction or Poetry?
Fiction (interestingly)

How much did reading help shape your love for writing?
A lot. I always say every good writer must first be a good reader. It’s the love of reading that sparks the love for writing. It’s like opening the door before walking through.

What’s your take on the belief that ‘talk is cheap’?
It’s not a belief, I think it’s a fact. We may not be able to say the same for its consequences, but ultimately, speech is free.

Tell us two things social media doesn’t know about Poet Tolu.
I’ll tell you one. I have never tasted alcohol.

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How do you know that a particular story will be a hit or do you just write hoping that somebody will relate to it?
It’s hard to know how well people will accept a writing, but the chances increase with how well you understand your audience and what they love or want.

What do you love most about being an author?
Next to taking ‘selfies’ it’s one of the easiest ways to immortalise oneself. It’s lovely to know that even while you are gone, generations to come can get an insight into one’s mind. There’s also a ‘social prestige’ that comes with being an author. I once went for a medical checkup and the doctor got really excited when she learnt I am an author. She insisted I signed a flyer advertising my book, which I found amusing.

To get Tolu’s books go through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. They are also available in Nigeria through Konga, Jumia, Rovingheights, Okadabook

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. 

 

#WriterSpotlight – “If I don’t write in a day, the day isn’t fruitful.” Akinwale Peace Akindayo

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Sparkle Writers, it’s another Thursday! Are you ready for today’s #WriterSpotlight feature? 

Philip Peace started writing about six months ago but his resolve to write has helped him to achieve a whole lot in his few months of writing. Like we always say, just start; you never know where your writing can take you. 

Enjoy this interview. 

Hello Philip, please introduce yourself:

I’m Akinwale Peace Akindayo, publicly known as Philip Peace. I’m a writer and poet.

While doing a quick background check we found this in your bio; “I write to wound hearts and heal hearts, I write to kill hopes and to keep hopes alive “ Can you please explain what you mean?

Yes, most of my works are satire. I have a couple of romantic poetry too but I often write satire, and satire criticizes the ills in the society. So when my words wound hearts and kill the hope of vicious men, same words would heal the heart of some and keep their hope of surviving alive. That is what it means, in short.

How long have you been writing for and what have you learnt in these years?

I started writing at the mid year 2016. Since then, I’ve been improving both in making words and in effecting rhymes without much ado. Aside that, I write daily and it keeps me well, I can now say “if I don’t write a work of art in a day, the day isn’t fruitful.”

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Well, I learned language, writing precisely, has power when I weighed the power of words. Words are simply everything.

Where do you get inspiration from?

I’m inspired by anything, tangible or intangible. I also get inspiration from things around me. At times, I often think as a pauper and write his mind.

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You seem to love sharing your work on Instagram, what inspired this?

Actually, I’m not such a cute being…I’m not a fan of taking pictures too, so sharing my works there would make others know what I do and see some things, some facts…about life and what is really happening.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Nothing really, but anything or person that disturbs the goal, I’ll surely let go.

Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies?

I read too, I like sports as well…

Have you ever been rejected as a writer, if yes please tell us about it.

Well, I can’t say I’ve been rejected, maybe the works I submitted for contests are not okay or luck was just sick.

What is your ultimate dream as a writer?

“To walk to a stranger’s house and see some of my books in his shelf.” Fulfillment.

How has your writing evolved over the years, did you do anything specific to make improvements? If yes, please share with us.

I improved in writing with a specific meter in each poem, especially since the beginning of this year. Meters are  the same thing as saying syllables, so having a definite meter is a having a definite syllable in each line or poetry.

Aside that, I actually created a blog to save my work for the present and for the future, it’s the easiest means to access to the world too.

What’s the biggest lesson writing has taught you:

You can only stand when you are ready to stand. They’ll come and challenge you, your works might not be appreciated, it’s just a means of saying;“without us, won’t you survive?”

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?

The best that I can be.

#WriterSpotlight – “I have an ever-growing affinity for poems that are inspired by strong cultural roots.” Kareemat Abdelkareem

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It’s not every time you meet somebody who is so in love with words and is not ashamed to say it. Today’s guest on our #WrtierSpotlight is one. We love how simple yet profound her answers are and we hope you can learn a thing or two from her.

Hello Kareemat, please introduce yourself and tell us what you do
My name is Abdelkareem Kareemat and I am a poet

You have an interesting relationship with words kindly tell us how it started.
I haven’t always been an extrovert. When I was younger, I was quite the loner and I usually read books for company. So when I wanted to express my feelings, I found I could do that well with poetry. So I’ve been writing forever

You won the @africanwriters 14 word story challenge with your beautiful entry, how long did it take to write that and how many times did you have to revise it?
That particular entry wasn’t revised at all. It just popped into my head after I’d put in about two other entries so I decided to add it at the last minute.

Where do you get inspiration from when you want to writea story
Everything inspires me when I want to write. I like to think that my thoughts come in lines and stanzas so it’s easy to put them down. I am not much of an author. As much as I like to write prose, I prefer the uniqueness of poetry in its brevity and and mysteriousness.

What’s your ultimate writing goal?
My ultimate goal as a writer is to get successfully published and have my literary work captivate, connect and enrich the minds of my readers. It is to let people know without doubt that poetry transcends rhyme schemes and offers a lot more.

Who is your favorite poet and why?
I honestly do not have a favorite poet. Different writing styles appeal to me, depending on the theme, the setting, etc. However, I have an ever-growing affinity for poems that are inspired by strong cultural roots. This is because our culture is who we are. When we stop talking about it, when we stop letting it to inspire us, then we become lost in time. Untraceable.

Do you have plans to take your writing to the next level, maybe by writing a book or performing your poems

Yes! As a matter of fact, there is an ongoing effort to publish a joint anthology with another poet. It’s titled Temples, Tales and Tempests and it’s going to have an exciting mix of themes. I have considered performing my poems and I will when an opportunity presents itself.

Do you have a platform (personal blog or another person’s blog) where you publish your stories or poems?

No. For now, I just write and keep them. However, in the the near future, there would be a platform where readers can check out my poems and make suggestions.

Aside from writing, what are your other hobbies?

I am bookworm. Books are my constant companions; I read a lot of genres but I’m a die-hard romantic! I love traveling. Someday, I’d like to travel the world all over. I love watching and acting in stage plays, I love photography and I’m an active phonographer (phone photographer), I also enjoy going to arts museums because art is life! I like to watch movies too. They are relaxing.

Some write for fame, others for money why does Kareemat write?

I write to express myself. My poems are who I am, my experiences and my own perceptions of phenomenons.

What’s your advice to someone who doesn’t believe so much in the power of his words?

Believe it or not – words are magic! If you don’t believe in your words, you don’t believe in yourself. But when there is an assurance within you about yourself, your words and everything you speak will be golden. Go paint the world rainbow with your words!

#WriterSpotlight – Ibukun has learnt never to define her worth as a writer by numbers or by support base

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Our #WriterSpotlight features keep getting better. Today’s guest is Ibukun Gbemisola Ogunyemi. Her biggest dream is that her writing inspires young women and children to rise above their pain and struggles; to step outside all shades of boxes.

There’s a lot to learn from her today.

Hello Ibukun, how are you doing?

Very fine, thank you.

Your bio says you are a Content Writer, Screenwriter, Fiction Writer, Creative writer, Poet, Spoken Word Artist, lifestyle blogger and much more. That’s a whole lot! Can you please take us through the journey?

(Smiles) Wow! It’s truly a lot. Writing has always been a part of me. My life in total is writing. There was a time I wanted to change my writing style even though I knew that I had a thing for descriptions and words because I felt unaccepted and unconventional. One of the things I’ve learnt so far is that your writing style always pays off. Unconventional is not flashy but it’s creative, beautiful and resourceful. As for cooking, baking and recipe development, I will say I picked that from my mother. She’s one of the best cooks I know and my Dad loves making recipes. Cooking and baking for myself and people actually gives me joy. It’s an art. The ability to feed oneself good meals and pastries, and then having your family and friends enjoy that is artistic. Talking about the Media, I realized some things are better said than written. So I’m working towards that too.

Of all your many abilities and duties, which one do you love most?

It’s hard to pick a favourite because most times, it’s hard separating one from the other but I’d pick Creative Writing because it encapsulates all my shades of writing.

Let’s talk about your writing. When did it hit you that could do all of these kind of writing; fiction, poetry, screen writing etc?

For poetry, I can say it was around the time I started writing Creeping Voices and that was in July 2015. Fiction on the other hand has always been a part of me; in fact I think that was where I started from and the Screen Writing journey started this year when a young man contacted me from outside Nigeria and asked if I would be interested in writing a screenplay for a feature film. Apparently he had been reading the series on my blog and I was like why not. I had no basic knowledge in Screen Writing. We agreed on a pay and as it was my first time, I really didn’t care too much if I was under-charging but the pay was good I heard. I sought a friend’s opinion, I downloaded materials, and screenwriting apps. I read, practiced and when the story came in, it was a little bit challenging and different but I was determined to give it the Ibukun touch.

The story took me three months to deliver. It was a 90-page story and I was off at camp during those times. The experience was beautiful for me. I couldn’t believe myself when I finished because I had to write virtually everything in pidgin and even make rap lines patterned to a beat style because the lead character was into music. The joy and self-confidence that enveloped me when the guy mailed his comments and sent my balance was everything I needed to be sure that I was born for this. It was a good story that fell into the right hands and there I learnt the importance of using something good for a first time. The movie is not out yet.

What’s the weirdest feedback you’ve gotten from your writing?

The weirdest feedback I’ve gotten would be at the beginning when I launched into writing proper. I was writing more about heartbreak series then and someone told me my writing was targeted at somebody. It was weird because for me, I wrote my way through with little or no encouragements and when I had thought I was getting there, someone came up with a comment that sagged my spirit and I realized that the way people will appreciate a literary work of someone they don’t know would be eternally different from the way they would with someone they know. If only we can view every literary piece with an open mind and try to separate a writer’s personal history from their works, it would make room for real literary appreciation. Also, I think unless a writer is categorically telling you this is what it is, it is wrong to categorically affirm he/she is talking about themselves. The world is too big a muse that we don’t have to draw materials from our lives all the time.

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What’s the biggest thing you have achieved with your writing?

For me, the biggest thing so far beyond the features and the opportunities I never sought yet found me is the fact that my writing helped someone through a difficult time and chief of all is that it inspired one of the best people I’ve come to love and admire strongly this year to embark on her own writing journey. I think that alone is enough achievement and in one way or the other, it has inspired me never to quit on myself because I don’t know who is getting inspired somewhere or who might be inspired.

You wrote an e-book and even got it on Okada books! How did you make it happen?

Hmmm. I think one of the things I try to acknowledge as a writer is that I am a very impulsive one. I realized that some of the writers I’ve met are really not a fan of impulse but most of my written work are impulsive and that makes me different even though I tend to feel like I am a different type of writer too outside the impulse. Talking about Creeping Voices, I never planned to release it as an eBook. It was meant to be personal. Everything about the book was done under the span of 5 months. It had been a hell of a writing journey for me and I was going through different things personally that included repressed emotions and I felt like I could just confess my way through those feelings but like I said in the dedication part of the book, some emotions won’t go unless you give them life. So, in mid-July of 2015, I had a surgery that changed my life. I started questioning everything I ever believed in and all the emotions I thought I was done with began to come to fore. I was determined to seize and enjoy every moment. I couldn’t afford to allow all those emotions torment and rot inside of me.

After the surgery, I gave in to the emotional invasions as I began to write them down. Living became different for me. So, I wrote all 76 poems on an hospital bed in one week and I spent August reading them over and over again asking myself how I came about each poem. In September, I gave it to a friend to edit after which I struggled with  whether or not I should release it, giving it a title and then designing the cover. I finally made my decision and I published it on Okada books for a meagre fee. Basically I would say the journey was unplanned but it made me a better and a dauntless writer. It was me allowing myself to feel, break down, be blunt, and evolve, and step into purpose.

What’s the biggest lesson writing and publishing a book taught you

It taught me to be true to myself, my motivation and my passion; to seize every moment and most importantly, never to define my writing worth by numbers or by support base.

Can you share the best advice you’ve ever gotten with us

I had an imaginary friend one time and she said to me, “Don’t get so caught up looking for encouragement in the seemingly important places or with the seemingly important people that you forget to appreciate those that give it you effortlessly without asking.”

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Where is the weirdest place you have gotten inspiration from?

I think I am the kind of person that gets inspiration from weird things and places; from pep talks to arguments, fights, pain, offences, seemingly minute scenarios, food, comments, discussions etc. But I think the weirdest of all would be at the Salon; on two different occasions.

Tell us two platforms you would love to see your work featured on

(Laughs) I rarely think about stuff like that but if I’m to say, that would be Caine Prize and Commonwealth Writers; for now! 

When Ibukun is not writing, reading or cooking, what is she doing?

She’s probably listening to music, or watching/listening to messages, watching movies or documentaries.

What legacy would you love to leave behind?

That my words and writing inspired, blessed, healed and dared girls, young women and children to rise above their pain and struggles; that it helped them to be themselves, love themselves, step outside all shades of boxes, maximize the opportunities available unto them; that I inspired them to dare to love and trust God again and that families breed emotionally healthy children.

 

#WriterSpotlight – Iyanu Adebiyi writes knowing that she is the answer to somebody’s prayer

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Hello Iyanu, how are you doing?

I’m alive. I can’t believe it. [chuckles]

We googled Iyanu Adebiyi and you are dominating the first page on Google. Your poems are amazing, and you are successfully carving a niche for yourself. Can you please take us through your journey?

I guess you can call it a journey, but the places I’ve been to are the hearts of the people I’ve met. First, it was growing up with my father’s library, then there were two teachers who helped lay a good foundation for me; Ms. Akunna, my very first Literature in English teacher. She took interest in me after giving us an impromptu test on her very first lecture. She gave me friendship and made me fall in love with literature.

Mr. Henry, was a no-nonsense English teacher, who was very kind to me. I can’t explain it, but I found myself writing essays and short stories at the end of every school day for him to grade. When he began to mess up my work with his red ink, I wanted to stop but found that I was hooked already.

I also had friends at that time who nicknamed me ‘Soyinka’ and that sort of stuck. I guess all of these provided a good foundation for a lifetime of writing for me, but the thing that made me conscious of writing the most was heartache. [smiles]

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I’d been rejected by many people, who meant so much to me. I was thinking about suicide and had developed a very low self esteem. One day, I was scrolling through my timeline and saw a post by Michael Ogah. He was writing about how it felt to be depressed and want to commit suicide in a way that resonated deeply with me. As I read on, it suddenly dawned on me that I had talents that I wasn’t using and that, to me, implied suicide. Impulsively, I started to send friend requests to writers on Facebook and that opened a whole new community to me. There I met fine writers like Hymar David, Tj Benson, Ife Olujuyigbe, Akintunde Aiki, Innocence Silas and a host of many others. Innocence’s poems had a great influence on me and because I used to write songs in my childhood, poetry came naturally.

Early this year, I met myself. It was like the experience of Adam and Eve at Eden when their eyes were opened and they saw their nakedness. I wrestled with myself. Sometimes I won, but mostly, I got beaten to a pulp and out of my wounds, poetry gushed out and right there in my pain, I knew the world needed my poems, so I started to post them online. After a few months, I started to do spoken word because I wanted to embody my poems and allow them heal me.

At what age did you write your first poem and can you tell us what you did with it?

I must have been 18 years old, when I wrote “Standing Friend”. I can remember being so scared that I had to shut my eyes when I published it on Facebook.

You recorded the ‘Up Nepa’ poem in celebration of Nigeria’s 56th independence what inspired you?

I am a very patriotic person, and I got inspired by my enthusiasm for Nigeria. Nigerians need to know that if anything good must come out of this country, then it must come out of every single one of us.

I do believe that we are still going to be great, so I wanted to spread hope, to let Nigerians know that we can make it out of these hard times if we come together and put heart and mind to raising our nation from the ashes. As a country, our mentality is marred by the past. We need to unlearn many things, forget about what has happened and strive to reach a common goal.

Spoken word is gradually becoming a thing in Nigeria but some people still don’t know what it is about. Would you be kind enough to explain the concept?

Simply, Spoken Word is poetry when it is performed. For me, Spoken Word is poetry that decides to stand up from the pages of a book. It has the power of breath because it is spoken. I believe that when words are spoken, they have better effect and meaning because the poet has the opportunity to embody the poem and also portray the exact meaning of the poem. A person’s voice is the DNA of his or her spirit, so when a poem is being spoken it allows for a connection with the audience.

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Spoken Word is usually written to address a particular issue that is relevant to the society or audience to which he is performing the poem, there has to be a binding force, a unifying factor and a shared experience so that even though the poet is speaking from his own perspective, the audience is able to enjoy the performance as though it were theirs.

It has strong ties with the hip hop culture, story telling and monologue theatre. Some spoken word pieces require the use of word play, gesticulation, free styling etc. Yes, in Nigeria, spoken word is becoming a thing and that is a welcome development.

What’s the worst thing anyone has said about your poem and what was your reaction?

“It’s too dark, it might trigger depression.” This really hurt, because depression is one of the things I hope to cure with my poetry. I was sad for a few days within which I was feeling useless, but I shrugged it off, knowing that empathy is not darkness. My poems are meant to heal, especially by telling sad people that I know how they feel, that they are not alone. You know, something to take them through that pain and help them really conquer it, not run away from it. If it triggers depression, then it means there was a problem the person didn’t know he or she had before reading my poem.

Different people write for several reasons; fame, fortune, impact. Can you please tell us why you write?

The reason I write is pretty much summarized in Isaiah 61:1-3, which is to bring good news to the hopeless, to heal the brokenhearted, to release souls from their prisons and proclaim freedom, to comfort all who mourn and grieve.

I believe it is a calling and whenever I write. I write knowing that I’m the voice of a people who may never get heard. I write knowing that hey, somebody’s life could take a positive turn because they read my poem, and so that the younger generation can say, “If Iyanu can do it, then I can do it ten times more.”

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The other day, someone I don’t know from Adam sent me a message saying that, my poems may be the only reason why she is still alive. So I write, knowing that I am somebody’s answered prayer and a line from my poem could be the mantra that saves a life. It sounds too pompous or ridiculous, but I’m beginning to believe that.

Do you have a writing mentor and why?

Right now, I can’t say I have a mentor. Maybe I’d just feel out of place with a mentor because I’m doing the type of thing I’m doing. Nobody can teach me pain, passion or purpose. These things just spring up on me and how I catch them is my poetry. Also, I am afraid that I might begin to write like someone else. I want to protect my originality, but that doesn’t stop me from learning from others by asking questions and observing.

On the average, how many times do you edit a poem before you say it’s ready?

Who is counting? [laughs] I don’t count. I just write until the picture I have in my hand resembles the picture I have in my heart.

What’s your take on the belief that ‘talk is cheap’?

Talk is not cheap. Talk is expensive. In fact, it takes a huge amount of courage to speak up in these days of social media subs and bullying.

I think the statement was borne out of frustration from hearing people say that they’re going to do this or that without putting any effort, but talk is where change starts from. I do believe that the world is in so much turmoil because of silence. We are not speaking up enough.

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When Iyanu is not writing, or performing, Iyanu is…?

Singing. I write songs and sing in the choir. I’m currently teaching myself how to play the piano, in order to further develop my music skills. I also sell poetry inscribed t-shirts.

Complete this statement One day my writing will…

…crown the lips of children. It will be the song they sing to themselves when they are trapped in darkness.

Is there a poet, writer or spoken word artist you would absolutely love to meet and why?

Kahlil Gibran is the poet I’d absolutely love to meet. He’s dead, and I wish I could wake him up from the grave, put my hands on his shoulders, shake him vigorously and ask: “what is your ‘juju’? But the words he requested to be written on his tomb say there’s no need for that; “A word I want to see written on my grave: I am alive like you, and I am standing beside you. Close your eyes and look around, you will see me in front of you.”

What’s your advice to upcoming poets?

What I’ll say to upcoming poets is this; There is no ‘upcoming’ when it comes to poetry. You’re either a poet or not. ‘Upcoming’ is just your excuse for not rising up to your full potential. Cut that crap and own it. Write from your soul. As long as you feel what you write, don’t be afraid to spill the truth of your existence on the world.

 

Are you a poet? Here’s an opportunity to be featured on Radioactive

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Hello Poets! Will you like to lend your voice to a worthy cause and get your poem featured on a well known platform? Well, this is your chance!

Radioactive is accepting poetry submissions for the October Anthology based on the theme of Hope in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness.

If you think you’ve got what it takes, you should send your poems to Radioactive.

The deadline for submission is 25th of October 2016, so the earlier you start writing the better.

For more information or if you want to submit your entry, please send a mail to radioactivetuts@gmail.com