Mr Ikani David is a final year student of Physics Education at Kogi State University and a budding poet who finds happiness in expressing himself through poetry. He speaks to OMALE ANGELA on his journey into poetry and its prospect in Nigeria.
How did you develop interest in poetry?
My interest in poetry started when I was five. The first piece of poetry I remember reading was the book of the Songs of Solomon in the Bible and then I went on to read poetry works by Chinua Achebe. Since then, poetry has been a part of me.
What inspired me into taking poetry as a career is my love for the art, my everyday desire and belief that the world can actually be changed with words and God. God inspires me every second.
Again, both my parents are ardent readers, so it made me to begin reading novels at a tender age, such that even people 10 years older than me felt were too big for them to actually read. Every single thing gives me an idea for poetry, from my experiences to those of others; from the thoughts in my head; from everything that happens around me; everything my eyes can see, my tongue can tastes, my nose can smells, my skin can feel, is poetry to me.
In poetry, Jermaine Lamar Cole also known as J. Cole is my role model. He’s just plain amazing!
So, how has it been?
You see, I started performing spoken words in 2014, however, I didn’t even know what I was doing was called poetry till 2016.
It is thrilling, scary, amazing and fulfilling to sing poetry before a crowd, but there’s no feeling that can beat the experience of performing poetry.
Break Out is my favourite poem. The poem essentially shows a part of me I hid for years and it changed and still changes so many lives today. The project may forever be my favourite but who knows?
My poems have been rejected a whole lot of times. I can’t even begin to narrate the countless experiences nor forget them, but I guess the rejections have contributed in making me who I am today.
Have you published your poems?
I have not published any hard copy written work, but I have had my written poems featured on websites, blogs and social media pages and since I am more of a spoken word poet, I have released two official spoken word projects.
The first spoken word piece I officially released was titled Break Out, which had both video and audio tracks and was about my personal story of masturbation and sexual addictions, it also aimed at fighting all forms of addictions.
The second track I released was titled: My Diary. The piece told the fictional story of a young boy in the university and his daily struggles and how the Nigerian schooling system is weighing heavily on the lives of youths today but also enjoined youths to work hard and fight to fix their future.
What challenges have you faced writing poetry?
Sadly, in Nigeria, the reading culture is dying. Many people label themselves poets and rush into putting out very poor poetry works hence destroying the image of poetry in its entirety. However, poetry, especially spoken word and performance poetry, on so many levels, is still a growing art form that is still gaining recognition and so may be a contributor to the apathy to poetry right now.
Social media is having a positive effect on poetry, because it gives so many poets, if not every poet, the platform to effectively express themselves.
However, writing poetry has been challenging, especially because of funds. The sacrifices I’ve had to make and I’m making to create projects to put out are too innumerable and the lack of proper funding and sponsorship is a challenge that almost seems unconquerable.
Nevertheless, battles were actually created to be won and make the taste of victory sweeter, so I see this challenge and other challenges as a platform to rise.
How do see the future of poetry in Nigeria?
The poetry world in Nigeria is rapidly growing and I see more and more people, especially youths coming out to express themselves via poetry, whether written poetry, performance or spoken word poetry or rap or any other form of poetry. I personally see poetry as a force of social, political and religious change in Nigeria and it has already begun.