One is adjudged to be gifted when one makes ordinary things look extraordinary. It’s all about magic; it’s all about art!
In an interview session with Amaobi Uche of ACEworld, Aremu Adams Adebisi takes us through his journey as a writer.
Having followed you for a while we know of your appearances in numerous publications. Is there something else we do not know, perhaps?
I am an economist and a recent graduate from the University of Ilorin. I do politics sometimes, especially when I have to apply certain political doctrines read from texts and notes. Thing is: I have this drive to test the factuality of assumed theories and politics serves as a fertile ground for such experiments.
Other than being a politician, a writer, and an economist, I curate a literary platform with the name ARTmosterrific, and currently, this tops the list of the many things I need to get growing (I won’t mind to have you onboard, actually). You see, I procrastinate at many things and in no small measure. I don’t know if that counts as one of the things you want to know about me. Lol
Not the least of all, I briefly pass as a translator. I teach basic Arabic language and I translate Arabic poetry into English when compelled by friends. I see this part of me as a reconnection with the spiritual realm of luscious Arabic poetry from where my own poetry found its source. It’s like a homecoming.
It all started with an honest question like this. It was a question of simplicity asked by a group of extremists one day and that would have required an answer in the same vein. But I am not one that sees in simplicity, in the ordinary ventures of life. I see in perspectives that many times do not sit well with people, and since every heterodox action comes with a label, a derisive identity, I got the name Antagonist for mine.
But what are we and have been if not a horde of antagonists? From socio-cultural movements like Animal Rights, Sexual orientations, Feminism, to even socio-geographic like climate change. We are a people of disobedience with minority groups moving for structural changes. Each one of us in its own right sees its movement as light against darkness, albeit this movement being antagonistic. The table has turned now: Light, henceforth, is an antagonist against darkness. For instance: When we eat, do we not antagonize hunger?
I am of the opinion that we don’t always have to listen to others’ music when our own music keeps thumping in our chests into our ears. Henry David Thoreau once said and I quote: ‘If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however, measured and far away”.
My own music can be eating meat, having sex with females, believing in God; it does not in any way suppress others’. Others’ may be the opposite. There is room for every thought in a post-truth world. Thoughts do not necessarily have to conform. The one global concept being sold to us now is liberalism. We can’t definitely be liberal without being subjective and individualistic. Antagonism is the consequence of individualism, as we structurally break away from socio-cultural norms and ethics, crumble conservatism.
In the whole of my life, I’ve had to agree and disagree with people I am familiar with. Recently I had an argument with some of my friends on the issue of #sexforgrades when I made mention of transactional sex and pointed out the sex facts of the females. Although considered deflationary, I held on to the fact and a perspective. And if we are not seeing in perspectives, we are not moving, we are not objective.
There is fairness in the structure of liberalism only through the emergence of objectivism. In fact, we will be using a one-dimensional recipe today where everyone has to hunt for a squirrel, cut it open, boil and eat, and repeat, if we are not to be objective. As long as perspectives do not hinder anyone from the pursuit of their own dream towards self-sufficiency and happiness, they should be retained. In all cases, we are antagonists of choices and decisions.
I started writing not early enough if I am to use the yardstick of adventurous young writers whose prowess I greatly envy now. In the same aspect, I started writing quite early if I am to consider the wisdom of adult writers I look forward to meeting in person. Either aspect, the discovery of writing has never been a thing about age. Irrespective of the occurrence of its discovery, either at an early age or at an old age, writing still is writing, a word still is a word. And there is no young or adult writing from the look of words at a point in time and at a given generation. There are only young and adult writers from the look of age. But age does not usually translate to wisdom in the same way writing does not usually have to be a gift.
Writing can be learned like any work of art. The processes contain in writing can be taught. Generally, the theoretical part of all knowledge is imparted and indoctrinated. But when we talk about the application of a body of knowledge, we are usually considering gift and talent. One is said to be gifted when one makes extraordinary things look ordinary. And one is adjudged to have talent when one makes ordinary things look extraordinary. No matter the perceptions we hold of these two, we’ll find that the onus lies in how things are made to look, not minding how ordinary or extraordinary. The look of things, transitively, is the creation of things and that’s art, and that’s writing. All arts are the result of a careful process of learning about nature. All writing, eventually, is not a gift but a talent.
So for you, how has the journey been so far?
A journey is always rough, is it not? Especially for the simple fact that a journey takes one back and forth. Sometimes you are in search of aptitude and then you confront word loss. Sometimes you find the right words and you are faced with clarity. Other times coherence is what you are looking for. In all of these, I’ve learned to leverage the way I imagine and put things down. The answer many times to these questions is in the cleavage between reality and imagination. If an image is over flogged, its writing would be a tad difficult to realize. So we can always volume down and up what we imagine and what we want to realize.
For someone with your kind of ptowess, you should have someone you model after. Is this so?
Of course! I’m a transcendentalist and my poetry is much the same. Do not be surprised when you see me explore Darwish, Neruda, Emerson, Thoreau, carving deep works out of earlier Arabic transcendentalists. I’m mostly swayed by the ideals of classicism and I dance to the tunes of spirituality most of the times.
With an art as intense as writing, you must have experienced numerous challenges. Yes?
If you have been writing consistently for the past years that I have been doing, you’d know to tune down challenges naturally and bid them the names you want, the names only you know they answer to. Challenges are meant to be named as a problem named is a problem addressed.
I have faced quite a bunch of challenges, but all can be narrowed to the quest for clarity. Simple clarity to be precise. I have had to self-doubt for days because I couldn’t remember what word to aptly convey a particular poetic line. But nature has a way of making things up for us. Many times I feel that in a world as self-exclusive as ours, we don’t need a lot of books to read. What we need is nature. A lot of interactions with nature.
Now tell us about the benefits you have enjoyed.
Through art, I have been recreated in many ways. Art teaches me autodidacticism, self-reliance and increases me in expression and self-esteem. Not only these, I get celebrated in words no matter how excusable. And there is a kind of reverence I have for words that make me break my resolutions almost every time I come up with one. I can’t neglect words — from the gratifying to the enriching. I just don’t know how to.
There is also this globalization of arts from which I have thoroughly benefitted. And then there is the didactics of Art. Sometimes I tell myself that if death should catch up on me today or anytime soon, I have lived a life I am proud of. Works published, people regarded, friends encouraged, near-friends embraced, families intimated with, strangers accommodated. Art teaches me all these.
Who is it that has been with you all the way? A queen, perhaps.
There is just one Queen, one mysterious Queen, other than God and Willingness, and her name is Funso Oris. That’s how mysterious he can be. He functions both as a Queen and as a King. There is nothing capturing the sky, the earth and everything in-between. There is no gender to the horizon.
Please share with us one thing that has been a source of encouragement to you through the years.
I think that one thing will be balance. I live a certain part of my life silently in my head and a certain part noisily tongue-snarling my friends. That way, poetry is not the only outcome I am fated, there is also the genericness of prose. While poetry is to solitude and silence, there is prose to learn from people and noises. So we can simply say what keeps me going is the contrarian dualism of silences and noises and the perception (God be duly praised!) to relate which one is to which. The prose aspect of my life is not what I write like poetry; it is what I act.
What have we not seen of ‘Antagonist’
Antagonist still has a lot to offer. I am planning huge structural projects in the literary aspect. My being published in diverse magazines has not only granted me recognition but as well exposed me to how things can be done better to meet new generational standards. I have plans for a campus residency with ARTmosterrific and a literary magazine that does not only accept submissions but also sings these submissions, performs these submissions and explore the different ways to realize a ‘feel-see-hear’ mantra of new generational feelings.
Amaobi Uche is an editor and content developer at ACEworld. To reach her send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.