Poets and Writers I Discovered at #LIPFest18

 

True Gems! L-R: Logan February and Ella Chikezie. Image source- Ella Chikezie.

One of the beautiful things of literary festivals is meeting your favorite writers.
Another beautiful thing is discovering your next favorite writer. Or better, falling in love with their works.

  • Ella Chikezie is an Administrator at Creative Africa and on the Lagos Poetry Festival Team. She publishes creative articles, short poetry and stories on instagram and her blog. She was the head of Catering and Guest Welfare Team for Lagos International Poetry Festival. It was delightful working with her during #LIPFest18.  I love her poems and stories. ‘Someday may you look back and smile because/you found purpose in your pain, and may you/look forward with courage because you learnt to /dance in the rain.’ Her engaging pieces have continuity, vibrant consciousness and were quirky. Ella, I’m eagerly waiting for your chapbook.
  • Dr Obari Gomba and I had a lengthy, humorous and insightful conversation during our ride from the airport. We discussed ignorance and discrimination, export of African creative writers, the large pool of unknown Nigerian writers, movie adaptation of books, role of social media and blogs in promoting Nigerian literature through reviews and online self-publishing. Yes, that much! He gifted me an autographed copy of his Guerrilla Post, an engaging play.
  • Logan February and I struck up a conversation after the Opening Ceremony. I was fascinated with his leg work ie. how he crossed his legs. I gave up on sitting crossed leg as a teenage tomboy. Why would I squish my thick thighs? We struck up a friendship after some honest conversations with Amaka and Chioma during Wide Awake Concert. Logan is the author of two poetry chapbooks, How to Cook A Ghost and Painted Blue with Salt Water, book reviewer amongst other things. Poetry chapbooks are like small packs of spicy, sweet, small chops. ‘Dissolve two fallen stars in a cup of chamomile/and it tastes a lot like sweet deception’-A Night of No New Things. I find Logan’s poems fascinating and rhythmic with vivid imagery.
  • Tolu Daniel is a writer and photographer. When I met him he asked ‘where did you lose your voice?’ and that made me laugh. That Saturday my voice was in cracked whispers because I’d been speaking with sore throat the past three days. I thought he was T.J Benson but he forgave my mistake and we had a lovely chat. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines like Expound, Saraba Magazine, Afridiaspora, Brittlepaper and a few other places. He lives in Abeokuta. I love how he describes, the tone of The Unkindness of Ravens and its inclusive second person perspective. ‘A darkness amplified by long-grass music. Coupled with the acapella of  crickets and frogs and Chinese generators  in every house along the street. The darkness covers the horizon, skirting through the edges of the street, hovering over each house, one after the other like a big, black blanket.’
  • Obii Ifejika is that poet I met on the stage of the 1st Edition of LIPFEST. She performed a captivating poem with a grieving persona. The persona was the mother of a kidnapped Chibok Girls. Back in 2015 I’d cried, shivering in the velvet seats of chilly Muson Centre. During the Wide Awake Concert, her poems made the attendees remember the unforgotten Chibok Girls and anguish. Her second poem was a moving love poem about reminding a lover about your love. I spoke with her the next day and she said that poem reflects on how everyone has a part in the end of a relationship. ‘Loneliness greets you with its morning breath,/Limbers your arms,/And feathers kisses over your face’– The Waking Hour. Check out her blog for more poetry.

 

Other Poets I thoroughly enjoyed their stellar performances include:

Jabir Malick ia a Senegalese performance poet, musician and teacher. We had an interesting conversation on feminism and people’s need to accept other people’s cultural differences. I loved his performance of Original I Copied during the Wide Awake Concert.

Julian Huen, a unique German poet who gave me heart palpitations. He kept wandering Freedom Park grounds minutes before his performance. It was worth seeing him prep for his rhythmic performance. The poem encouraged the listener not to listen to toxic self doubt.

There is the magical Lebo Mashile, South African performer, activist and the LIPFEST18 resident poet. I watched her performances and marveled at how she used words to tell untold feminine narratives.

Nick Makoha, Ugandan poet from the UK. He hosted a workshop that really helped me improve the tone, rhythm and description of my short stories. I watched him perform King of Myth,The Dark and a third poem. His mastery of metaphor, rhythm and imagery are laudable.

 

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