Published On: Tue, Aug 18th, 2015

Poetry is my first Love   Eke

Iquo Eke

 

Iquo Eke is a poet, a writer whose work spreads across many genres of writing.
She spoke with Adeola Ogunrinde on literary issues.

Since when have you been writing and what has been the challenge?
I have been keeping my writing since 1996, that is when I started valuing it as literature .There  are  different challenges for a writer , there are some challenges are specific to women. I am a mother of two children, my children were much younger when I started writing , and I didn’t enough time to myself. There are times that I will have ideas, stories and I could only jot them down, get back to them after some months. When the children grew older, went to boarding school, I was able to focus more on the writing, channel all my energy towards writing.

 

The other challenges would include electricity which comes in small hours, not wanting to put on the generator because of its noise. The economic situation in Nigeria makes you think first of making money before writing because in writing not many pay all your bills. You will have to have a 9-5 job to cope with it. If you have a 9-5 job like I did for sometime, it will be difficult to wake up at night after been in traffic for much hours.

Which of your works brought you fame as a writer?
I will say my first collection of poetry ‘ Symphony of Becoming’ which was shortlisted for the NLNG prize in 2013.It got a lot of reviews.

 

Why did you choose poetry as a form of art?
When an idea comes to me and it comes as a poem, I will definitely write it as a poem. I also write prose and I have also written a few drama as well. Poetry is my first love, I am known more for poetry than for prose. When my novel comes out and my collection of short stories, I will be known for Prose but publicly, I am known more for poetry. When an idea strikes me and it comes with words that paints pictures, I write as a poem, as it comes.

There are different forms of Poetry, where do you stand?
A lot of my poems are written in free verse, once in a while I try sonnet. In my poetry, I try to pay attention to imagery.

How do you get your books published and what are the challenges?
Nigeria’s publishing industry is very peculiar. For many young writers, it is discouraging. If you write poetry for instance, many publishers are not willing to risk their investment in poetry. I stand to be corrected. I mean traditional publishing and not vanity publishing where you get to pay for the services. Many traditional publishers are not willing to stick their investment into poetry.

I think because it is a genre of writing which might not be as lucrative as prose, or as drama which is also be difficult to sell. You find out that many young writers tend to move around self-publishing. With the advent of online publishing, many people rather publish online. You are an author and you have an e-book and the awareness is known around the world.

 

If you are a writer and you are not published in print, the fact that you have your work in e-books makes you an author, even when you do self-publishing many don’t pay attention to specifics, like editing. When you self-publish , it means you will do everything yourself, you also have to consider the editing of your work. If you have written a novel, you are going to do structural editing , edit the grammar yourself, decide what concise you will use for the printer.

 

The size of the paper, and when the book comes out and it is in one piece and no chapter missing, all of that worries is on you. You also have to think about publicity . Beyond publicity, you have to think about distribution network. Publishing houses also have challenge with distribution. One has to ask oneself is it enough to say I have gone to the press and I have a book in my name. Can I be in Ibadan and say my book is been sold in Kebbi or Uyo. It is practically a big challenge.

What is your advice to Buhari in terms of promoting book publishing?
Nigerian problem can be solved if one thing is handled. I am a passionate advocate of reforming our electricity. I do think that if you have electricity you are not going to think of buying a generating plant, fueling it and maintain it. You are going to take away a lot of expense and that has a big effect on businesses , whether a road side barber , the printing press or the hairdresser. Everybody need electricity, needs power. If the power sector can be reformed in Nigeria , it is one step forward in the right direction.

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