Hello Samuel, it’s a pleasure having you here. Thank you for honoring this invitation.

Could you please tell us some things about yourself?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Thank you, Precious. I am a 400 level student of English and Literary Studies. I enjoy listening to different kinds of music. I love football and basketball, and I play both as well. When I’m not at school in Lokoja, I live with my family in Abuja.



Interesting. You are becoming a strong voice in contemporary African poetry, Samuel.

When did you start writing and what ignited your interest in poetry?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

I started writing poetry, intentionally, in 2017. Studying literature in secondary school was mostly the catalyst. I fell in love after reading the poets we were taught then: Blake, Wordsworth, Okara, Tennyson, Hallowell, amongst others. I liked the whole concept of doing the unconventional and somewhat extraordinary with language. I was caught, webbed by the possible aesthetics of linguistic expression. Soon after, I began to mirror what I read, attempting to produce and replicate the art I absorbed.



Wow! You’ve come a long way, really.

It’s five years already. That’s beautiful.

Your poems are always laced with impressive imageries. What’s unique about your works and your writing style?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Thank you. I think that’s not for me to say, lol. You know, something readers should comment on instead. Nevertheless, I always see my writing style as accessible, to some extent. I know complex is relative, but when you compare more widely and objectively, the stuff I write comes out easier to digest. However, depth and artistic nuance aren’t absent. In the name of simplicity, quality is not stripped off. I always seek to maintain this balance, and I think I do it quite well. It’s cool because, then, the works are able to be appreciated by those who go into a poem looking for easy language and those who seek literary value.



You know, Samuel, lots of writers have other writers they love to read. What African poet(s) do you usually read?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

I have so many African poets I love to read. A few: Romeo Oriogun, Safia Elhillo, Nome Emeka Patrick, Gbenga Adesina, Pamilerin Jacob, Cheswayo Mphanza, Precious Arinze, JK Anowe, Itiola Jones.



Interesting! I personally love to read some of these African poets. Romeo is my favorite.


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Awesome. Romeo is so good.



He is.

So, tell me, what theme(s) do you explore in your writings? And what are the reasons behind these themes?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

I often explore the themes of loss, faith, grief, family, and mental health. The reason is that my writing is mostly personal, so it is only natural for such themes—which are internal and concern the self—to reoccur.



Wow! Since most of your writings are personal, has there ever been a time where you struggled or had a double mind about putting out your personal experiences in any of your work?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Oh, yes. Sometimes I write and I feel I’ve put too much of myself into the poem like I’ve revealed a part of me I should keep covered. That’s the thing with confessional poetry. It can make you feel vulnerable.



That’s quite understandable.

So, tell me, do you have any writing habits? Where, when, and how do you write? Do you pick out the titles of your poems before you write or do you write before titling?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

I’m not so heavy on writing habits. I don’t think I have rituals I follow before or when writing. I write on my phone most of the time, whenever I need to; day or night. Regarding titling, it depends on the poem. Most times, I write first and title later.



That’s awesome.

Have you ever had to deal with plagiarism and what are the best ways to avoid being plagiarized?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Plagiarism is an annoying thing. I’ve experienced it at a subtle level. A number of times, I encounter poems where the poets clearly use my exact syntax or duplicate expressions I’ve used before without referencing the original source. I think there should be a fine line between inspiration and stealing. Budding poets often have this problem of distinction at their early stages—they read so much of a writer, they begin to emulate unhealthily. I don’t think it’s entirely possible to avoid being plagiarized. If you put your work out there, there’s no fence of thorns around the “copy” button. Things like that cannot be controlled by the affected. The focus should be on those who plagiarize, to educate them.



I agree with you. Plagiarism is annoying and people who plagiarize should be educated.

A few years ago, we had many young people who were excited about writing poetry. Not long after, a large number of them stopped writing because they believed poetry and writing, in general, does not pay.

Do you think this is true? Does poetry pay?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

The simple answer is yes, poetry pays. But it’s not black and white like that. It’s all about the mindset. If you go into poetry with a business mindset, you’ll most likely be disappointed. What are you expecting? Basically, poetry doesn’t pay much. Submitting a bunch of poems to magazines won’t make you a billionaire. Sure, if you’re lucky, you may win a prize or two, but what are the chances? Some poets eventually become financially successful, though. For example, those with a big following who get book deals and have their books published by a reputable publisher. Stuff like that leads to more exposure, on and on. But again, what are the chances of that happening to every poet? If you approach poetry with the only intention of getting rich off it, then surely the chances of quitting are high.



That explains it.

Thank you for your time, Samuel. 

Before I let you go, could you please leave us with a few lines of your poetry?


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Does it have to be from an unpublished work?



Oh, no. It can be published or unpublished. As long as you feel comfortable sharing it with us.


Samuel A. Adeyemi:

Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Here’s an excerpt from a recent publication:


“I must not be accidental,

a scatterling pulled by whatever can

pull it. I must outgrow


my wreck into desire, I must thirst for

light, like marigolds lifting to the sun.


Twice a decade,

& I want to be filled with

my own wonder.


I want to stand still & wait for

the goodness of the world to


find me, like a garden,

unmoving, yet spring reaches it.

But I know it never works


like that. The world is not capable

of such generosity. I must throw


myself, cast my body

into the reckless river of life. I am

both fisher & net.


I must seek for grace,

& if I find it, become the graceful.”



Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this with us.

I enjoyed having this conversation with you.




Samuel A. Adeyemi is a Poetry Editor at Afro Literary Magazine. A Best of the Net Nominee and Pushcart Nominee, he is the winner of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2021. His chapbook, To Erase the Wound, was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the New-Generation African Poets chapbook box set, 2022. His works have appeared—or are forthcoming—in Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, 580 Split, Strange Horizons, Agbowo, Brittle Paper, Jalada, and elsewhere.

He is on Twitter as @samuelpoetry
He’s equally on Instagram as @samuelpoetry