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Ayomide Bayowa is a Nigerian-Canadian writer and filmmaker: a final year student of Theatre Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Toronto and the (2021-24) poet laureate of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. 

He took first place in the 2020 July Open Drawer Poetry Contest, the June/July 2021 Edition of the Bi-monthly Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (BPPC), and second place in the 2021 K. Valerie Connor Poetry Prize’s Student Category. 

He was a top-ten gold entrant of the 9th Open Eurasian Literary Festival, United Kingdom, and a semi-finalist of the 2021 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. And in the same year, 2021, the Nigerian-Canadian writer emerged as one of the winners of Antoa Writing Contest in its fiction category.

In our recent interview, we learnt that the young African writer wrote his first chapbook in a coffee shop 🙂 

Tell us, what inspired your short story “The Little I Remember”?

Remembrance, if I may say, is most writers’ creative contract. And as humans, we dwell on it overly. It is a collective currency or barter. For example, look at an instance of you asking someone for a favor. It is either granted or rejected due to the existence of a prior act of kind assistance you’ve once given you now want in return. 

You must have done me wrong to make me loathe you for so long–is not forever. The same applies to Deja vus, accessible and/or inaccessible traumas; memory and age are primary brokers. At that, we get we have its juice as well as its booze. 

As a migrant, it took me a while to realize the dichotomy of making new memories as suppressing or deleting some previous ones entirely. If I were to, I wouldn’t let go of my undergraduate years at the University of Ibadan, Oyo state; those were my creative incubation times. An embraced memory burns with remembrance’s embers.

I can remember how much of a reserved observer I was; I might colonize space with you, oblivious of my presence, for I don’t talk much. But I am there, retaining things relevant and/or irrelevant in life: this includes when cultists mistook us for an opponent gang and attacked my friends and me along Bodija road on the way home at dawn from an overnight concert organized by Goldberg.

I was there, not there, for we all took our lives by our feet and the wind. My immediate English understanding of the Ibadan district, “Bodija” is “Should it turn to fight.” Coupled with my witness with friends and the stories I have heard of the afternoon public outbreak of altercations between deviant youths, insurgents against police officers, and so on.

I love playing with kids; too much. I’ve made friends with random ones I see every day by the roadside hawking or selling their parents’ wares. Their fates during violent occurrences, as aforementioned, were my fears and worries in “The Little I Remember.” 

Everyone has a story. How did you pick interest in writing?

Interesting question. I may have a preferred genre to write, but never a preferred story. Whatever would make me sit to write about something or another is imaginative growth. 

Though particular views, day-to-day occurrences, just dawning long-forgotten experiences, and so on might prompt endeavouring, perseverance accords creative discontentment and wild curiosity. Whoever or whatever I read at the moment might aid the interest in whatever I happen to write.

Who are your favorite African writers and why?

I would disappoint by saying none. The works of the African writers I have read so far represent themselves past the idea of choice to a must. A literary canon or something like that.

Bayo, do you have favorite places where you write?

 Though I wrote my first chapbook in a coffee shop and recently took to that tradition of completing my first paperback collection of poems, titled “Gills,” to be published by Wolsak and Wynn Publishers (Buckrider Books), Canada, in Spring 2023. I have now cultivated the habit of writing in my head to forget later. That’s my big deal with memory.

As a young writer, where do you see yourself in the future?

If only I could honestly see. Trying to decode my literary future would be my most deficient endeavour, for I forget myself a lot. I will be lost in the figurative expressions if I say any now. 

But that’s what we emerging writers living on bi-weekly pay-stubs do; imagine a future in brighter grammar(s), then forget the actual purpose of writing we are yet to discover in the first place. I would just say, “Luxuriating in the prayers of my late grandmother, Veronica.”

It was great speaking with you, Bayo.

Find award-winning short story: “The Little I Remember” By Ayomide Bayowa on our next AWC Series 🙂

I love playing with kids; too much. I’ve made friends with random ones I see every day by the roadside hawking or selling their parents’ wares. Their fates during violent occurrences, as aforementioned, were my fears and worries in “The Little I Remember.”

By Elijah Christopher

 

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Elijah Christopher is a lifelong creative artist and a journalist for “A New Touch Of Africa”, an American news media and magazine focusing on Africa-related issues, fashion, new technologies and innovations. He has contributed to several published works, most notably a collaborative poem celebrating Scottish poet Edwin Morgan and in 2021 was the winner of the DIAJ Award for his photo-artistry.

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