Monday, July 27, 2009

Chiedu Ifeozo: Bookaholic Blogger of the Month

Three adjectives that best describe you
Calm, caring, hardworking

Which talent would you most like to have?
Sometimes I do wish I could sing

Why did you write ‘Homecoming’?
Back in 2005, I was a bit worried about returning to Nigeria. I wrote 'Homecoming' because in those days in between the end of academic life and the start of real life, it’s very easy to feel lost, and not know what your next step would be. 'Homecoming' speaks about finding yourself in a place that you least expected or a place that you once dreaded. It speaks about the memory of a place that has familiar sights yet feels slightly strange. I wanted to speak only about the first moments, the arrival that somehow also symbolizes the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
What is the last thing you read that made you laugh?
Nene Ezeala’s facebook note, “Blue or Green”.
Who is your perfect audience?
Two years ago, I had no audience but God. I wrote down these words on blank pieces of paper and stored them away in a drawer. I have never had to think about my perfect audience because the truth is I am exceedingly grateful to anyone who takes some time to read my work.

What is the worth of a poem?
I would be the first to admit that having never studied literature; I cannot really give a definitive answer to this question, as I am only just learning the worth of a good poem. However, for me, poetry should be about life, it should be engaging and vivid, making it easier for the reader to relate to the words. Rhyming is good, but a good melody doesn’t trump a powerful message or a passionate tale.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
That’s a weird question, but i guess being poor, sick and alone is a very low point. Thankfully, this is not something I have experienced.
How does being a Nigerian influence your writing?
Nigeria is an intriguing and unique country, one that has bred many creative individuals. As a contemporary writer, my environment is reflected by my words, like an artist or a photographer i try to use descriptive words to paint scenes in a readers mind. Being Nigerian, I can’t help but notice the many issues affecting our society and I try to write about them.
When is the best time to write for you?
In the morning, when the house is quiet and other than the hum of my laptop, I can almost hear myself think.
What is the motive behind Poetry for Charity?
Poetry for charity is a project which aims to bring together several writers from various regions of the world using the facebook social networking website, with a common aim of donating their poems and spoken word pieces to be added to a collection. All the revenue raised from the sale of the book would be donated to 3 different charities for every edition of the collection. Through poetry for charity we have been able to encourage a new breed of writers, and support worthy causes. The charity anthology is printed using the funds raised from the sale of my first book. We have had over 60 contributors from 26 countries around the world, including writers like Jumoke Verissimo, Tolu Ogunlesi, Tosyn Bucknor and Wilson Orhiunu as well as upcoming writers like Nene Ezeala, Jeffery Jaiyeola, Seun Olaniyan, Latifa Ayoola and Ayotunde Awofusi, with their help we have been able to raise about N114,000 from the first volume. The charities supported by the first two volumes of the anthology are With love from friends (WLFF), These Genes, Against illiteracy poverty and AIDS(AIPA), Stepping Stones Nigeria, Crystal Vision, and Little saints orphanage.

Facebook and you?
Facebook has been instrumental in my drive to promote my work. I joined facebook in 2005, but i wasn’t really into it then and i only posted my first note, “The people”, on the 27th of September 2007. I would readily admit that I couldn’t do without the facebook platform, but i feel that it’s the people whom i have been able to interact with on facebook, who have made the platform a pivotal part of my day. The support network on facebook has encouraged me from the very start and i would always be grateful for their kind words, advice and criticism concerning my work which has helped me to develop as a writer.

Name your five favourite writers and why?
Jumoke Verissimo: for her powerful poems that leave you with deep thoughts
Chimamanda Adichie: for her vivid, real life stories
Tolu Ogunlesi: for his witty and outstanding wordplay and his great poems
Joy Isi Bewaji: for her ability to use descriptive words to paint scenes in your mind.
Jude Dibia- Unbridled is one of my favourite books this year

Life outside poetry...
I work as a systems engineer and when i am not at work or writing, I try to relax by listening to music, watching movies, or going for a swim.

Your house is on fire, what will you take with you?
My laptop
What is your most treasured possession?
My oldest notepad, most of the entries are typed out on my laptop anyway, but its worn out pages mean a lot to me.

Best decision in writing career
I’m relatively new to the literary scene, so the first and most important thing i had to do, was to read the work that other writers had published. The research helped me a lot when i set out to do the same.

Greatest challenge
Getting people attracted to contemporary poetry, getting them to see it as a different form of writing, when they already consider poetry to be boring, complex and un-relatable.
What would a story about your life be called?
Staring in the Eyes of Hope

What is your greatest fear?

Do Nigerians read?
Short answer, yes. Long answer, yes, but they may not want to pay for it and therefore its presentation and language is key to getting them to see the value in the words that they read. In my humble opinion, we’ve always had a culture of telling stories, creating and using proverbs, and there has always been an audience for this. Getting people to become interested in reading a book, should be done using many various platforms, Speech, Audio, Print, Graphic Novels, Photo books and Web blogs. Also, a true study of the audience is important. We shouldn’t just be asking, do Nigerians read? But also what do Nigerians like to read? And how do they traditionally interact with writers and orators. I believe we can build a better reading culture by attracting the Nigerian audience to what feels familiar to them.

What is the first piece you wrote and when?
That’s a good question, I lost many pieces when i was younger during a period when we moved house often, but I think the oldest piece i still keep is titled “The little Goldfish”. It’s a very simple poem about a goldfish who longs to venture outside its bowl, and if I remember correctly I wrote it when I was probably 12. It is actually included in my first book “Thoughts on a page” because of its distinct analogy to everyday life.

What does Taruwa mean to you?
Taruwa, means a lot to me, it is a source of encouragement, confidence and friendship. Lydia Idakula Sobogun contacted me in February 2007 and gave me an opportunity to present my work to an audience. It would become remembered as the first time I would ever read my work in public. Suddenly I had to own my words like I had never done before. We definitely need more spotlights such as Taruwa.

What is the meaning of your name?
“God helps me”

How do you overcome writer’s block?
I listen to music, relax and take each day as it comes.
Final words on your epitaph
Life is a gift, and he used his gift to help other lives


  1. Guy sounds a lot like me. if my house is on fire, i would take either nothing, or my laptop

  2. i guess our laptops have bcom so much a part of us these days. i like Chiedu's poetry, there's this way u just relate to the things he writes about and i think its really good.

  3. Great interview! Very thoughtful guy...when my laptop died a couple years back I cried for three days. :)