Thursday, 30 March 2017

Interview With Rasaq Malik Gbolahan

                             
Photo credit: Femi Amogunla

Rasaq Malik Gbolahan is a talented poet. He is one of the six nominees of Poet Lore Pushcart Prize.
A Nigerian born and bred in Iseyin, Oyo state, Rasaq Malik tells us about his life as a poet and the challenges facing Nigerian poets.

Who is Rasaq Malik Gbolahan?
Rasaq Malik Gbolahan is a graduate of University of Ibadan. He writes and lives in Ibadan.

How do you feel being one of the Poet Lore Pushcart Prize Nominee?
I was happy when the Editor of Poet Lore, Ellie Tipton sent me the message that my poem was nominated. It always means a lot to be nominated out of the pool of submissions received by the editor.

What inspired you to write the poem "What My Father Says Every Night"?
The war that happens to us as people who struggle to exist in a volatile place. The unrest that happens to us as we wake up every day to meet bullets lurking in the air. The Boko haram insurgency and the massacres and the havoc created by humans. Some of these things inspired the poem.

In your view, what role does poem play in the mind of the readers?
A poem liberates the mind of the reader. It uplifts the moribund spirit of a reader. A poem inspires and teaches you what you do not know. It is bliss. It is the creation of a world filled with stark realities.

Any other career apart from being a poet?
I am a performer. I am a chanter. I am a dreamer.

What do you say about Nigerian poets. Are they up to the international standards?
They are up to international standard. Nigeria is blessed with brilliant poets who have been able to study the art of poetry and write good poems. They include Gbenga Adeoba, Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu, Joshua Omidire, Rahaman Abiola Toheeb, Kechi Nomu, Oladele Noah, etc.

Do you feel fulfilled being a poet?
I am happy being a poet. It is a source of healing to me. It rejuvenates my dying hope. I love writing.

Who are your role models?
Jumoke Verissimo, Laura Kaminski, Danusha Lameris, Kim Adonizzio, etc.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I don't know. I just hope things continue to blossom and life continues to be good. I don't know tomorrow. I continue to pray for the gift of life.

What do you do during your leisure time?
Reading poetry books. I can't do without reading poetry books.  I have no leisure time. I don't play games. I hardly watch movies.

Your favourite food?
Rice.

Your favourite colour?
Yellow.

Choice of destination for holiday?
Saki. I would love to visit the oke Asabari.

Your social media platforms for fans to reach you?
Rasaq Malik Gbolahan on Facebook. Poetmalik on Instagram.




WHAT MY FATHER SAYS EVERY NIGHT
If we wake up tomorrow, he says,
we will pray to Allah until our knees
bleed, until our foreheads darken,
until the only words that linger
in our mouths are Allahu Akbar.
If we wake up tomorrow without
having to search for our beloveds
at the scenes of bomb blasts, in the wreckage
of burn cars, in the ruins of buildings,
in the fields of graves, we will recite
the Qur'an until our voices reach the heart
of God, until our eyes spill tears.
If we wake up tomorrow without hearing bullets, without smelling corpses, without
enduring the news of war from Gaza, without
reading the list of the dead in Rafah,
Jabalia, Khan Younis, Maghazi,
North Gaza, we will shout Allahu Akbar
until our throats slacken, until our chests
quake, until the only thing we remember
is how to love God. If we wake up
tomorrow, he says, we will go to the streets
to help the wounded, the dying,
the young learning to remember
their country, the orphans saying Help us,
we're hungry, the old in clothes filled with dirt,
the sick gasping for breaths in hospitals.
If we wake up tomorrow, he says,
we will learn to survive another night.

Rasaq Malik.

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