Book ‘n’ Gauge served a sensational mix of all genres of literature, music, art and talk at Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba Lagos.
The monthly literary event is presented by Roving Heights Online Bookstore (visit their website) and supported by Gtbank You Read Initiative. You know I don’t recommend if it isn’t stellar. Read my review of Roving Heights Online Bookstore here..RH Bookstore review Sunday afternoons in my house are spent eating rice, taking a nap or lounging in white lingerie with a novel. However, on 3rd January I wore my expectations, orange lipsick and a simple nose ring to read outdoors. I unavoidably arrived an hour late. The conservations had already begun. Ayobami Adebayo and Lola Shoneyin talked about the crushing burden placed on women to procreate, cultural narratives about childlessness, unpopularised infertility of men. The vivacious Comperè in her flowing fuchsia pink dress and her locs bangs announced a spoken word performance.
The slender poet sat and read from her phone a tale of scouting the Cuban art market to find her first painting to purchase. She had wanted a representation of a sensual black woman but had gotten an artwork of Osun that her imagination had to repaint. Before the reading commenced I purchased the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives from a lady holding copies and a POS machine for N2,500. I got a paper bag and bookmark. This made the Ijebu-Igbo woman in me giddy. The previous day I had popped by Glendora Bookshop to check their new books. Resisting the temptation I didn’t purchase their N3,950 copy. Ayomide was my only friend that came along. He purchased both books.
After the performance, Lola Shoneyin, author of The Ssecret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, read about a mischievous sabotage of the family aso ebi by Iya Femi. The author’s animated reading drew out laughter from all of us. There was a soulful musical performance by Nana Aisha. Her moving voice sang a story of a pregnant woman’s feelings. Ayobami Adebayo read from Stay With Me. The scene where the new wife moved into Yejide’s house exclaiming it was her husband’s house too!
There were two more captivating spoken word performances by the aforementioned poet and instafamous poet Eva Johnson. The former poet waxed on about Dirt, a free verse about life, the earth, nature, women’s efforts, nurturing and time. Eva Johnson performed a compelling introduction and tale of An Average Girl. This performance reminded us to be concerned about others, listen to the sexually abused, bring perpetrators off unreachable pedestals. It made everyone feel the shock, fear, pain and numbness of the average girl who was continuously raped by her father and Uncle Moses.
Questions were asked by the audience that had had phones, camera up in the air streaming live and capturing the magical moments. Both authors advised aspiring writers to read, get comfortable with rejection, get a patient but efficient agent, write out their voice and style and avoid influences from published works while writing. Small chops and glasses of Chapman passed from trays to distracted but grateful hands. While a little #boyboss offered a glass bowl of chocolates to everyone but me.
There were exciting auctions. First, a book auction. It was an intriguing experience as the book whose bid started at N2,500 was sold at N20,000. Interestingly persons who bid only had to pay their bid prices. The book was bought from the oldest bookstore in the world at Portugal. It tells a story of a fictional town where no one is able to die after the New Year. During the event an artist had been drawing an artwork inspired by the event. It had been the first action I noticed when my flustered self had walked in late. I missed this auction because I stepped out to talk with Tobi Eyinade, Roving Heights face, it was great to see this face. She presented the book and artwork to the highest bidders.
Book signings and photographs followed the auctions. I had engaging, fun, thought provoking and encouraging conversations with the literary heavyweights. Being as I wasn’t with my already signed Stay With Me. I introduced myself to Ayobami Adebayo and we discussed the importance of being independent, getting comfortable with loneliness and enjoying solitude. We agreed these three underrated ideals help you and your relationships become healthier. I expressed my love for the novel and she expressed her love of my book photograph of Stay With Me. See the picture and my review of the novel here.. What I Am Reading: STAY WITH ME.
“Are you Feyi?” she asked. I stopped my story surprised and affirmed. She excitedly began telling me how she previously signed my copy months ago. I simply got the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives signed with love by the founder of Ake Arts and Literature Festival, Lola Shoenyin. I took pictures with her and Tobi Eyinade. Thanks to Ayomide for taking the pictures as my battery was low. I discussed with other interesting people upon conclusion of the event. Amongst which was Faith Moyosore, Creative Director of African Writers. Ayomide and I got ice cream from the ColdStone Creamery at St. Agnes junction up the road from the library. We excitedly showed each other our signed books. Then discussed the event, our evening plans, not too flavorful pink iced cream. Book ‘n’ Gauge was his first attended literary event and it mesmerized him.
I have said my thanks to everyone who helped make it a delightful experience. I loved reading outdoors with Book ‘n’ Gauge. I’d recommend you attend the next event. Want to see more pictures? I’ll share the photo album on my Instagram below.
Osun– A Yoruba female goddess who wears a yellow flowing gown.
Aso Ebi– native attire worn by members of a family and their guests for a wedding, burial, party and other ceremonies in Nigeria.
Image source: mrayooluwaseun