any form, much less a form as artistic as poetry. I’m glad he’s proud of me as a poet and he’s indeed one of my foremost fans.
The mistake is often made by labeling military men, especially from the north, as being anti-freedom of expression and anti-women. Nothing could be farther from the truth because in the north, there have been poet-soldiers like the late Mamman Vatsa, J.I.P. Ubah, to name a few. Besides, some of them are Moslems and have restricted themselves to one wife. We may also need to recall the case of General Domkat Bali. Though not a Moslem, yet over the years he has supported his wife who is a writer.
A.E: What is the reception of your work like in a chauvinistic northern Islamic culture?
V.K.: Given my encounter with some members of my literary community, whom I thought would have been sympathetic to my case for the African woman, I won’t be surprised that someday soon they may call for the banning of my book. The incident took place in Abuja after a meeting of some members of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), and it is still very fresh in my memory. Some of my Moslems colleagues strongly objected to my liberal exploration of sexual politics and love as a theme. They claimed I was secretly hankering to embrace the very ills I have condemned in my works. I really wonder how. Incidentally, the book has not been widely read as to provoke the kind of reaction my interviewer suggests or imagines; the reasons for this being essentially because my collection is a product of small-budget publishing and limited circulation. It remains to be seen how these reactions would be when the book hopefully enjoys wider circulation in the near future. And I am aware that Kaduna State University is considering using my book, though this has not been finalized.
A.E.: Finally, your work seems to mark the arrival of the postmodern sensibility in Nigerian Literature. What do you think the future implications might be?
V.K.: I am honoured by your recognition of my work as marking the arrival of postmodern sensibility in Nigerian literature, but I am not quite sure I understand what that means. If by it you mean my bold engagements with otherwise forbidden themes in the writings of our predecessors, then the future implication is something of a call to arms for other female writers, my contemporaries and the future generation. There can be no going back in our frank confrontation with the issues that have continued to hold our women hostage either as lovers, girls, wives or mothers. I’ll even be more honoured if more women derive inspiration from my work, as Erica Jong’s works (America poet and author of Fear of Flying and Fear of Fifty) may have also sharpened the sensibility you speak about, as evident in some of my poems. Having said that, I’d like to note, however, that my thematic exploration as a modern Nigerian female poet is not an isolated one. Besides Lola Shoneyin, whom you earlier mentioned, I have encountered other contemporary female poets, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo and Nonye Bethel Obikwu, who share a similar vision and attitude with me. And I believe there are also several others whose works we are yet to encounter. Suffice it to say that a body of work will soon be available in the near future to accentuate the implication of my modest efforts with Hymns and Hymens.
A.E.: Thank you for your time.
V.K.: Thank you for the opportunity.