By Tosin Ajirire
Bayo Philip Falayi was born in Abuja but spent his childhood in Kano, where he attended primary and secondary schools.
However, while in Kano, Bayo started writing as an escape from the harsh reality of his environment. To hone his skill, the graduate of Biochemistry from Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State, took creative writing courses and today has established himself as a fine writer. Some of his works include Like Butterflies In Flames, I’ll Always Find You, and No One Flies A Kite Anymore. In this interview, Bayo, who enjoys listening to Afro jazz, opened up on his craft, inspiration, challenges, and his latest work, Blooming Roses. Here are excerpts:
Tell us briefly about yourself.
My name is Bayo Falayi. I was born in Abuja but grew up in Kano where I attended primary and secondary schools. I’m the second child in a family of five children.
Why did you choose to be a poet and not fiction writer?
I consider myself to be more than just a poet. I’m also a writer and I write on a vast range of subjects depending on how I’m inspired. I’ve written a couple of books, which are mostly available in select bookstores around the country. But my team and I are working towards making them available online.
How do you derive inspiration to write, and what actually inspired your anthology, Blooming Roses?
I get inspiration from a lot of channels. I’m inspired by the past, the present and the future. I get inspiration from events in my life and that of other people. I’m inspired by beauty, nature, art, music and most things in my environment. This is evidenced in my anthology, Blooming Roses.
You started writing as an exit to escape the harsh reality of your environment while in Kano, could you elaborate?
While growing up in Kano, there were lots of religious and tribal clashes, a lot of which involved the locals killing non-indigenes. I lost a few friends and their families to those clashes. My mother was almost killed in one of those riots. These were terrifying times for me as a child. Writing became an escape for me. It provided comfort and allowed me to express my fears as well as hopes for the future.
Some people drink, smoke or even have sex for inspiration, what do you do before writing?
I do not really have a routine before writing. I do most of my writing early in the morning. I like to write when it is quiet. I make small notes during the day when ideas come to me, but I do my writing early in the mornings.
Your poems, The Things We Do for Love and A Long Night of Fairy Tales, sound like you’ve been hurt by love. Have you ever been heartbroken?
Yes, I have. It was a long time ago and it inspired some of my poems.
Your poem, Baby Ella, seems dedicated to your daughter. What’s the story behind it?
I do not have a daughter actually. That poem was inspired by my niece and a conversation I had with her father, my brother-in-law.
Are you reflecting on your childhood days with the poem, No One Flies a Kite Anymore?
That is correct. When we were children, we played outside. We played in the rain, we flew kites, even made a lot of our toys with our hands and materials we found around us outside.
Children don’t play like that anymore. They stay indoors now, playing video games or spending their free time on their phones. I think it’s a shame that things have gone that way. I hope children start getting encouraged to play outside with each other, and get that much needed social interaction.
What are your challenges as a writer and how do you cope with them?
The major challenges would be funding and the reading culture. It’s not easy to just be a writer in this part of the world. One needs to have another steady source of income otherwise one might struggle to put food on the table. The reading culture in Africa is not what it is in other parts of the world. People do not want to spend money on books. One of the ways to still get that work is to make books really cheap or give them away for free. This is one of the reasons a writer needs to have alternate sources of income.
How do you handle writer’s block if and when it comes?
I take a few days off whenever I have writer’s block. I discovered that doing something fun helps clear the mind and keeps me fresh.
As a lover of Afro Jazz, do you see yourself extending your craft to playing music in the future?
I love music and I play the drums. I think playing the drums is how far I’ll go as far as making music is concerned.
What’s next after Blooming Roses?
I’m working on a book at the moment. I’ll love to tell you about it when the time is right.