11 months ago, Lanaire Aderemi performed for the first time ever in Lagos. Today she is a highly requested spoken word artist and a published poet.
We got in contact with the poet and asked her about her art. Here’s what she had to say:
How did you get into spoken word?
From a young age, I was writing poems in my journals. When I was 14, my friends in boarding house asked me to read one of my poems aloud. I was surprised by how engrossed they were by not just what I read, but as one friend commented, ‘how I read’. I never really considered spoken word till July of 2016 when the Lucid Lemons Lemon Curd poster came out. I knew I had a lot to say about issues close to my heart but I wanted to be an orator for one, not a writer. After some encouragement from my friend Seunfunmi who is also a spoken word poet, and watching several poetry Def Poetry Jam videos, I signed up days after and performed in August 2016.
How did your book come about, let’s talk about the process before we consider how you got published.
I kept journals religiously from 2012 till 2015 but never thought of publishing my journal entries. In the summer of 2015, my mum told me that she wanted me to publish a book. I thought she was joking at first but a month later, I had finished editing poems from my journals and had meetings with a publishing company. As I was self-published, I had to set strict deadlines for myself, manage my time effectively and ensure I finished designing my cover and font before school started in September. So my first tip for anyone that wants to publish a book, especially by themselves is to be disciplined.
I also believe that the process is far more important than the final product. Although I felt a great sense of accomplishment holding my book for the first time in January 2016 when I had my private book launch with my family, I realised that I enjoyed the process of creating the book far more- from constantly reordering my poems (which involved me writing titles on sheets of paper and throwing them in the air to decide what order they should be in) to growing emotionally and mentally. So my second tip is to not rush the process; enjoy it instead.
I edited my book for the second time in September 2016 and had to wait a few months due to unforeseen circumstances such as the recession in Nigeria which increased printing costs. I was extremely disappointed but i realised that God’s timing (which is August 2017) is perfect as I have grown so much over the years. So my third tip is to be patient but also to be self-aware.
How did you set up the meeting, because I’m aware of the difficulties that come with self-publishing. It’s really easy to come up short. And you mentioned the printing costs, you covered it all yourself?
My mum’s friends with a facilitator so she had a part to play in the process. We met a few times while I was still in Nigeria, but after that, we communicated via email. Printing costs were mainly from family members. My parents contributed a lot and I had donations and financial support from family and friends.
What’s your long term plan for yourself in relation to your poetry and your writing?
My long term plan is to stir hearts and share the stories of those society tends to silence. I say stir hearts because I think any form of art should evoke something special in the audience or reader. It gives me great joy when someone says they can relate to my poetry or that I inspired them to start writing again. So I want to stir hearts and make people feel what I felt when writing.
My long term goal is to write poetry that is laced with truth. I want to educate people through my poetry whether it is about feminism in Nigeria or economic inequalities across the world. I also want my writing to allow people to unlearn what they’ve been taught or how they’ve been told to think and have their own independent assessments of realities – so they can tell their own stories, especially if they’ve been silenced.
So here’s one of your poems, My Childhood Memory and I want to focus on two things. One, your use of colour and two the emotions going on as you wrote this.
Okay, I’m going to start with emotions. Poetry for me, is a form of expression. I think I was feeling really nostalgic, hence the name itself. It’s got a very fond and introspective tone, particularly because memory was a huge theme. I used present tense to sort of show a teenager watching their present self. I just drew on feelings of happiness and innocence.
With regards to colour then, I want to talk about black and orange. While a lot of my poems are personal, they’re not necessarily all about me. I did have orange at the back of my mind whole black was more of a social message and a representation of people of colour. Growing up, my parents were really into gospel, so we had lots of gospel CDs dotted around the house. But I remember only one black cover and that was with Mary Mary. I wanted some sort of inclusion but this wasn’t deliberate. A subconscious indication of the lack of representation of people of colour.
Finally, your book will be sold for the first time at the Lemon Curd, and will be available thereafter. How do people order?
Yes it will be. It will be available in Lagos up until the 8th of August. However, if people DM or email me prior to, we can sort something out. It will also be available in both the UK and the US.
Watch some of Lanaire’s performances here. Catch her live at the Lemon Curd on the 5th of August, 2017.