Kola Tubosun, the Ostanza Prize for Literature winner in 2016, finally ticks the checklist of his first poetry collection, Edwardsville by Heart.
The language scholar, who has written for International Literary quarterly, Ake Review, Brittle Paper and other literary journals, presented the book in UK early November.
Of course, Edwardsville by Heart is not a title one would expect. He explains in a chat, “Sometimes, coming up with a title can be as hard as writing a book. In this case, the title of the book comes from an idea of remembering something without reference to written materials. Edwardsville is the name of the town. ‘By heart’ is a common way of saying ‘off-hand’ or ‘via memory.”
Does his love for travelling reflect in this work? He replies, “The book, though a collection of poetry, is a collection of travel stories.
Each poem deals with an idea, a thought, a memory, or an encounter I had while living in Edwardsville or thinking about it.”
He explains further, “It’s a book of travel stories in poetry, so expect to be taken on a ride around Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, St. Louis, and around the American Midwest. I wanted to share with readers the experiences and events I encountered while I lived there for three years. I was there when Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009, so I talked about that. So you’ll find social commentary, humour, lyric, history, and a number of other issues.”
How much did he sacrifice and how long did it take to actualise this dream? The poet says, “The dream of writing a book?
If you count as sacrifice the work of sitting down by the computer every day for six weeks to put your thoughts down, then I’ve
“sacrificed”. The process itself wasn’t that exacting. It was pleasurable, actually. The harder part was finding a publisher, but that went remarkably smoothly as well.
The author had a reading at Pembroke College, Oxford, on November 7, 2018. “That was where the book was published. I also had another reading at Culture Tree in Peckham, London, two days later. I have not had any readings in Lagos yet, but we’re working on putting one together,” he says.
On why he published in London, he says, “I published where I found a publisher. I’d asked around as soon as the manuscript was ready. It was only Wisdom’s Bottom Press, based in the UK, which said yes. I was glad to let them publish the work, and they have been phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner on the publishing journey.”
He recently got a writing scholarship to write a book on Wole Soyinka. He hints, I intend to do that throughout 2019, and I look forward to it. My other non-writing projects at YorubaName.com and YorubaWord.com and IgboNames.com are also still ongoing.