‘VISUAL ART INSPIRES MY WRITING’ | Interview with story writer Adébólá Ráyò

adebola rayoPUBLISHER'S NOTE:
ArtBeats (or, in full, ArtBeats MEDIA)
is the former brand name of
Bravearts Africa until Jan., 2015

GENRE OF THE ARTS: Creative Writing/Literature

Kayode Taiwo Olla conducted an interview with Lagos-based Adébólá Ráyò .

Adébólá Ráyò is a fine writer and editor. She specialises in prose writing and has had her stories published in newspapers and literary magazines in Nigeria and outside. She holds Law degrees from University of Lagos and Nigerian Law School, Lagos. Ráyò runs an art site Arty Living and keeps a personal blog (HERE).

In this brief interview, she talks about her writing, her blogging and about commercializing writing.

Read on.

I read your short story Re-Memory and I could feel the ‘Africanness’ of your writing. What is your view about Africanizing the lingua franca in the voice of our narratives as African writers, as against simply telling a story about African characters and African events?

AR: I am not sure how to answer this because when I’m writing I’m not thinking about the ‘Africanness’ of it or not. To be honest, I’m not even sure what ‘Africanness’ or ‘Africanizing’ mean. My roots are Yoruba, and my cultural influences tend to seep into my writing but not as a conscious effort to be ‘African’ or ‘Yoruba’ or ‘Nigerian’. It is who I am, and I write what I write. People should write what they want to.

It seems the crop of the contemporary and younger generation of Nigerian writers – high up from the Chimamanda Adichie’s, the Lola Shoneyin’s, the Toni Kan’s, and right down to the Jumoke Verissimo’s, the Victor Ehikhamenor’s and the Emmanuel Iduma’s – preoccupy themselves with social cum gender issues, and are hardly as political as the older generation of Niyi Osundare, Femi Osofisan, and their likes. Do you feel we the younger voices are gradually starting a new literary convention now, or perhaps period too, to be theorized by critics in time?

AR: To the best of my knowledge, people write what affects them most. I’m not in a position to answer this question coz I don’t think any of these issues come up in my writing – not consciously, not that I know of. Although I disagree that we are hardly as political as the older generation. Articles, tweets, poems, novels, from the new generation of writers are preoccupied with political issues. And the last part of the question, I think only time will tell.

Someone once remarked about African creative writing–especially of the immediate passing generation– as tending to be too ‘academic’, rather than entertaining for a lay reader. What do you think mainstream creative writing and literature, rather than pulp literature, should mainly be tended towards? Is it academics, entertainment or, say, art?

AR: All of it.

What is your take on commercializing creative writing?–And especially when a writer has to write for a boss that must dictate the muse or prune to taste; whereas we all need money to function.

AR: If you’re a full-time writer, you will commercialize your writing in one way or the other at some point. The important thing is to be true to your voice and to your ideas because at the end of the day it’s your name on it.

I guess you’re a lover of art; I’ve seen on your art site and on social media, pictures of a number of art objects you’ve collected, home and exotic. Can you describe to us what sentimental value art pieces hold to you?

AR: I love art. I love being surrounded by art, so I collect pieces that catch my eye. Often, visual art inspires my writing so it is important to me that my space is filled with art.

You run an art blog Arty Living, which borders around news, interviews and events in the arts. As there are no immediate monetary gain in running an art and literary site, and it could demand much of you–what then do you think you stand to gain and managers of African online lit mags and sites like Brittle Paper, Saraba, Lawino, and Wamathai?

AR: I don’t know why others do it, but I do it because I enjoy doing it. People used to ask me about art events I attend and I figured, hey, why not just put this info somewhere so you don’t have to repeat yourself all the time. It is a struggle finding the time to keep it constantly updated but I don’t really mind. And, honestly, I don’t gain anything from it beyond satisfaction.

Thank you for your time, Ráyò.

AR: You’re welcome.

Kayode Taiwo Olla is the author of two literary works, Sprouting Again, a novel (2011) and Softlie, love poems (2013). He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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