Interview with Tolu Akinyemi (Poetolu)
Page Bloom: Please let’s meet you
Tolu Akinyemi: My name is Tolulope Akinyemi, also known as Poetolu. I’m an entrepreneur, a storyteller, poet, Christian, Big Bang Theory fan, a Nigerian, and a few other things. I currently live in the United Kingdom.
Page Bloom: When did you start writing, what influenced your writing career and when did you publish your first book?
Tolu Akinyemi: It all started as a kid, and with a love for reading, which graduated into a desire and a love for writing. However, I really started taking my writing seriously in 2010, and my first book “Your Father Walks Like A Crab- poetry for people who hate poetry” was published in 2013.
Page Bloom: How has the journey been so far? And how lucrative has it been for you?
Tolu Akinyemi: The ‘journey’ has been interesting, along the way I have learnt to clearly define my audience and the style and purpose of my writing. At first I wasn’t really clear about these things, but with time, I understood I wanted to tell the ordinary, everyday African stories that we usually overlook and in a simple, witty, humorous and relatable way. My writing doesn’t pay me well enough to write full-time yet (not like I want to), but it pays some bills.
Page Bloom: How do you unwind/relax?
Tolu Akinyemi: Walks/bike rides in the park, TV shows, EA Sports FIFA game.
Page Bloom: What is your favourite book of all time?
Tolu Akinyemi: The Bible.
Page Bloom: How has been it been switching from Architecture to Writing? What would you be doing if you weren’t into Architecture or Writing?
Tolu Akinyemi: It’s not a switch, they go concurrently. Though my background is Architecture, I’m more into development management than design now. If I wasn’t doing any of the things I’m involved in now, maybe I’ll be a lawyer or an Actor.
Page Bloom: Are you working on a book currently?
Tolu Akinyemi: Yes. My first non-poetry book. A Fantasy fiction titled ‘Bobolaya, the Land of Liars’ and two children’s books.
Page Bloom: What can you say about the literary space in Nigeria at the moment?
Tolu Akinyemi: Although this question seems quite broad and non-specific, I’ve noticed the reading culture in Nigeria is changing. For good. There are also more Nigerian writers than ever getting international recognitions. Both are really good developments.
Page Bloom: What would you consider as the struggles of a writer/author generally, and in Nigeria specifically?
Tolu Akinyemi: Getting your writing across to readers must be a struggle that every new writer can relate to. Writing a book is just one half of a writer’s work, unless you are already J.K Rowling.
Page Bloom: When it comes to writing, who is your mentor?
Tolu Akinyemi: I do not have a mentor per se, but I have people that I admire a lot and whose writings have greatly influenced mine; Bukola Elemide (Asa), Robert Kelly, Wendy Cope, Felix Dennis, Charles Bukwoski, As you can see, some of them are song writers.
Page Bloom: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Tolu Akinyemi: Life happens overnight. One night you are 13, in the morning you are 30 and wondering how time flies so fast.