SENTINEL POETRY
ONLINE MAGAZINE MONTHLY <  ISSUE #12  <  NOVEMBER 2003  <  ISSN 1479-425X

MY E-CONVERSATION WITH
TOYIN ADEWALE-GABRIEL
By Nnorom Azuonye

"A poem must be before it can mean."
- Adewale-Gabriel

These are excerpts from an on-going electronic conversation with Ms Adewale-Gabriel, a gifted writer of poetry and fiction and a woman at the forefront of the advancement of the voice and fortune of the Nigerian women writers. The unpredictability of communication with her in Nigeria has meant long silences in the course of this conversation and I have really resisted sending her a questionnaire as I really wanted this to be a conversation.

Nnorom Azuonye (NA): Tell me about the woman Toyin Adewale-Gabriel

Toyin Adewale-Gabriel (TAG): l am a woman writer who practices creative writing in poetry and fiction. I have two published books of poetry, a book of short stories in German and a forthcoming Turkish translation. I have also edited two anthologies, 25 New Nigerian Poets and Breaking the Silence, co-edited with Wunmi Segun. I as well have a forthcoming book of Nigerian women short stories. I was born and educated in Nigeria where l presently live.

NA: You describe yourself as a woman writer. Is this merely a gender specification or does it define the thrust and themes of your writing?

TAG: I write consciously as a woman for all of humankind. I am a woman speaking for man, woman and child.

NA: When you say "speaking for man, woman and child", do you imply that you are a spokesperson of people who perhaps cannot speak for themselves?

TAG: No, I imply that I speak for the human experience.

NA: Is it then incumbent that in attempting to appreciate your work, we must look beyond your experiences, to the experiences of people around you? How do you manage to maintain credibility of experiences of other people in your work?

TAG: No writer writes solely from personal experience. The quality of your research and the literary powers of evocation ensures credibility.

NA: And when you write, are you more mindful of the purity of your subject or the technical demands of the genre in which the material appears? Would you risk negative reviews to preserve the essence of your work?

TAG: For me, the subject and the mastery of the genre are weighty matters. A poem must be before it can mean.

"It's important to galvanise our energies again
and see how civil society groups in the culture
sector can collaborate with the private sector.
We need to create events and learn to market
the arts--including the reading culture."


NA: What was the most important factor behind your decision to become a writer?

TAG: It was the fact that writing gave me pleasure. The critical and bookstore response to my books was also important in re-affirming that l had made the right decision to be a writer.

NA: Who are your personal heroes in Literature? What are their innovative ideas, techniques and devices that you admire?

TAG: I love the Latin-Americans, Neruda, Vallejo, Allende for the intensity of their craft.

Continues>>>

GUEST POET:
TOYIN ADEWALE-GABRIEL
About the poet
Poems

ERNEST DEMPSEY
Two Poems

CHIKA UNIGWE
Two Poems

INTERVIEWS:

IKE ANYA
In The Footsteps of Chinua Achebe: Enter CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE read>>>

NNOROM AZUONYE
My E-Conversation with
TOYIN ADEWALE-GABRIEL
read>>>

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