INTERVIEW WITH SEUN LARI-WILLIAMS
Page Bloom: Please let’s meet you
Seun Lari-Williams: I just got married a few weeks ago to my best friend, Feyisayo. It’s been super awesome. I love teaching the Sunday School class at JoshuaVille Church, Jibowu, Yaba. I love representing people in court. I love writing poetry, and playing the flute.
Page Bloom: What was growing up like for you? Did your dad’s art career influence you in anyway?
Seun Lari-Williams: Like it was for many people, growing up had its ups and downs. I have mostly pleasant memories though. And I’m thankful for that. About my dad’s career, it’s impossible for anything to grow up before my father eyes and not be influenced by him. He could turn a plant to a drummer. My Dad is his career. Thus, for the most part, I was raised by art in all its forms, including fine arts, poetry, drama, music and dance.
Page Bloom: When did you start writing, what influenced your writing career and when did you publish your first book?
Seun Lari-Williams: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Not professionally, of course. Just a child putting down some of the things I was hearing. I think I began writing because I saw my father writing. He spent a lot of time writing, and he seemed to derive some kind of joy from it. My first (and only) book is Garri for Breakfast. It was published in 2016.
Page Bloom: What influenced the title of your book ‘Garri for Breakfast’?
Seun Lari-Williams: The title was derived from a poem in the book with the same title. Honestly, I just thought it was a good name for a book of poems from Nigeria. I felt (and still feel) it’s a phrase that many Nigerians can relate with.
Page Bloom: How has the journey been so far? And how lucrative has it been for you?
Seun Lari-Williams: It’s been a great ride. By great, I mean that the journey has presented everything that comes with a real journey. There has been ups and downs and even a few U-turns here and there. Lucrative? Lol. Poetry mustn’t be entered into for money. Lucrative industries include the oil industry, telecommunications industry etc. A real poet doesn’t measure his success by how much money it has brought him/her. But it’s been rewarding in other ways. I’ve found that some of my works have brought a little joy to a few people. It’s been lucrative in this sense.
Page Bloom: How do you unwind/relax?
Seun Lari-Williams: For relaxation, I watch movies. I play the flute and just chill.
Page Bloom: What is your favourite book of all time?
Seun Lari-Williams: At the moment, that’d be: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Page Bloom: Are you working on a book currently?
Seun Lari-Williams: Yes, I am. I have for the past two years now.
Page Bloom: What can you say about the literary space in Nigeria at the moment?
Seun Lari-Williams: The literary space is a big place. The view from the part where I stand is absolutely amazing. The literary space is where one enjoys the best of the best thoughts from the greatest minds around us. And the internet revolution has contributed its part by spreading these wonderful expressions to places they never used to reach. Further, I love the new air I feel: More and more people are beginning to subscribe to the view that poetry particularly, too ( like other forms of art) can reflect the times we live in, as opposed to living in the past. I feel there’s a lot of freedom at the moment. You know, people expressing themselves in their own way and drawing inspiration from the things and the people around us. Ironically, I believe this is how to be true to history.
Page Bloom: What would you consider as the struggles of a writer/author generally, and in Nigeria specifically?
Seun Lari-Williams: I know that many writers make it look easy. But it’s not as easy as it looks. And writing (which many writers have compared to bleeding) is just one part. There’s the part of making submissions, getting acceptances and dealing with rejections. And then the issue of making a decent living from that is a rare privilege even abroad. And when you’re in Nigeria, it’s a whole different level (just like everything else). It gets even tougher. Your struggles are more than just finding a good story/idea or how to pen your thoughts down. You also have to worry about “mundane” things like having water for bath, electricity and perhaps even breakfast.
Page Bloom: As an author and a lawyer, what can you say about copyright law/issues in Nigeria. What do you think is the way forward?
Seun Lari-Williams: What I can say right now is that authors in Nigeria should take advantage of new technologies that conveniently protect their works and pay them for same. Also, they must endeavour to learn their rights as authors. One cannot enforce or enjoy one’s rights if he/she doesn’t even know what they are.
Page Bloom: When it comes to writing, who is your role model?
Seun Lari-Williams: Well, that depends on what I’m writing. I consider poet, Wizlawa Zymborska one of my favourite poets. I also love Charles Bukowsky. I
Page Bloom: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Seun Lari-Williams: On writing, I’ll tell him to take a one year break, and that instead, he should read more good books.
Page Bloom: Thank you for honouring our invite.
Seun Lari-Williams:The pleasure is mine. Truly.