We are happy to be media partners with THE BAGUS TEAM in this Virtual Book Tour with Mr. Tolu Akinyemi. We had a little chat with him and we hope you enjoy it!
1) Kawe Africa: We are honoured and delighted to have you on here Mr. Tolu. So, who is Tolu Akinyemi?
Tolu Akinyemi: The pleasure is absolutely mine. Tolu’ Akinyemi is an out of the box creative thinker and a man of many parts. I was born in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria and my family moved down to Lagos in the early nineties. I studied Economics for my bachelors at the University of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria, with a masters degree in Accounting and Financial Management, from the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom. I am currently a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and I work with a leading investment Bank within the Financial Crime Compliance unit in the United Kingdom. When I am not in my day job working to ensure we have a crime free financial system, I am writing books which has resulted in my three books “Dead Lions Don’t Roar”, “Unravel Your Hidden Gems” and Dead Dogs Don’t Bark with more books on the way.
2) You have a passion for writing and literature. How were you able to nurture this talent especially with a background in Finance. And how are you able to find time for your career and your poetry. How do you balance both?
I have always loved reading and writing in my growing up days, it was such a passion that I had the heart for and I remember writing a movie script in my teens which I later lost. At every step of my Academic and Career journey, I have always kept the fire of my writing alive. I always did my very best to write down my thoughts. And balancing my career and writing has only been possible because I have maintained a clear focus. Focus means I am dedicated to my day job, as well as giving my all to my writing.
3) Your poems are almost like proverbs and admonitions and many people may not regard it as “true poetry”. Do you think there’s an exact shape and structure a poem should take?
Poems should be about expression of feelings and ideas, so whether proverbial, admonitions, love stories, or nuggets, inasmuch as an idea is communicated, then it is poetry. I think it is quite an unconventional form of poetry as people might not be used to Poetry in that form, however that is the only reason it is a collection of Poetic wisdom for the discerning, it was written to give people the feel-good factor. Hence its distinction.
4) You have same name with a popular “alternate poet” – Poet Tolu. And you both almost have the same style and you even got to thank him in your books. How has his poems and relationship with him influenced your writing?
Myself and Poetolu have both come a long way, we met sometimes in 2010 and he has been very instrumental in my Author journey, as he was able to help me avoid some booby traps in my Author journey especially when publishing my first Book Dead Lions Don’t Roar, he was my go to guy and he helped me to find my feet in those early days. We are also both endorsed as writers with Exceptional Talent by the Arts Council England and he was the one who guided me through the whole process and he holds a very special place in my heart. I love his style, he has paid his dues and he deserves every good thing that comes his way as he is a very selfless and down to earth human.
5) What is the message in your poetry and what are your readers’ reactions to it.
The key message in my poetry collection is empowerment, we live in a world where a lot of negativity thrives, and I have come with a message of hope, that people need to keep believing and never ever give up. If you need a book that can propel you to the next level, then my books will be worthy companions. I have had a lot of astonishing feedback from a lot of readers and people generally love my work, they feel inspired to go for their dreams.
6) You seem to write a lot of poems that mirror the society. You have two poems “Domestic Violence and Aunty Banke” in DEAD LIONS DON’T ROAR. And both have strong themes on Domestic Violence. What influenced your poem AUNTY BANKE. Because reading that poem, we found out that Aunty Banke, a woman, was not the victim of Domestic Violence, rather she was the perpetrator.
Truly my poems mirror the society and that is quite intentional, and I believe Authors should do more to speak out as we can influence societal change by lending our voices to real issues. My poem Aunty Banke was written from a place of pain, even though the name was fictional, it was a poem of an abusive woman who caused the partner so much pain and the end result was not so palatable. Women are not the only victims of Domestic Violence as Men have also been the brunt of abusive relationships and these are real issues that the society needs to hear more about.
7) Also in your poem Social Media, you talk about the ills of social media and you even reminisce and long for the good old days. Do you think social media has done more harm than good?
Social Media has done a lot of good and harm in equal measure, however I think we need to balance our activity on Social media, a lot of dreams have been buried because people prefer to spend their whole day on social media while missing out on the more important things in life. Social Media these days is more about make-believe and a mask as people only post their triumphs, but people do not post their pain and vulnerability. It is important we not get carried away or look for validation on social media by the number of followers or likes that we have, it should be more about impact and growth in real life not the make-believe world of social media.
8) We think your poem “CHANGE” was quite powerful. It subtly talked about the state of the nation. Do you think poetry can cause a revolution – social or political revolution? What is the poet’s role in discussing the state of affairs politically. Is it something they should shy away from or confront head-on with their art?
Writing CHANGE came from a place of deep sorrow as the Politicians we thought would be our savior and redeem the land were indeed same as their predecessors. Without sounding politically correct, our roles as Authors either within Poetry or any other Genre, we need to keep writing and talking about these issues, we need to keep calling out those who have destroyed and keep destroying the future of the unborn generations, so I will keep writing about these ills now and in the books to come.
9) The names of your books are unique and would make someone want to pick it up almost immediately. How did these names come to be?
At the time I wanted to pick my book title, I spoke to my Dad, who advised me on the initial title I had in mind and a couple of friends including Poetolu also advised me that I needed a title so punchy that could catch a reader’s attention. So many examples were thrown into the mix and from the samples, I was able to come up with Dead Lions Don’t Roar, the title has made life so much easier for me and the subsequent titles in the collections were easy picking for me as they are just a follow up in the same series.
10) What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten as a poet and what advice do you have for upcoming poets?
My advice for upcoming poets is to be focused in their craft and should try their best to be distinct and unique in their writing, don’t try and be like anyone else. One day, those efforts will someday pay off and the World will hear your story. Best advice I have ever gotten is to Stay true to my chosen path as my books are quite impactful and being on this path has been a tremendous journey for me with so many beautiful twists and turns.
In this Interview, we talked mostly about the poems from his book, Dead Lions Don’t Roar. It is a collection of inspiring and motivating modern day verses. Addressing many issues close to home and also many taboo subjects, the poetry is reflecting of today’s struggles and lights the way to a positive future. The uplifting book will appeal to all age groups, anyone going through change, building or enjoying a career and facing day to day struggles. Many of the short verses will resonate with readers, leaving a sense of peace and wellbeing.
We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did!