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Tade Ipadeola Talks to Uche Umez About His Poetry Collection The Sahara Testaments

The Sahara TestamentsAfrican Roar 2011“I write for those who like to be challenged,” says Tade Ipadeola. “When you find simple astronomy you’ll find simple poetry. There is no such thing.”

Ipadeola was recently named the winner of the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature for The Sahara Testaments, after having been shortlisted for the prize in both 2007 and 2011. In an interview, published on Brittle Paper, he explains how he set himself a target to write a thousand quatrains on the Sahara, but questioned this arbitrary number halfway through: “Can one set out to write one thousand megabites of poetry? What does that kind of objective imply?”

On the structure of his poems, Ipadeola claims: “The Sahara has its own visual rhyme scheme, its own asymetric beauty, its own harsh and haunting aesthetic. I wanted the poetry to reflect some of that”.

Read his engaging discussion with Umez:

Uche Umez: The Sahara Testaments appears to be the largest volume of poetry by a Nigerian I have read in recent times. 184 pages. How long did it take you to write such an impressive volume? Was there a point when you thought it wasn’t worth completing and had to give up?

Tade Ipadeola: I’m sure there are larger volumes of poetry out there. The thing with poetry though, is that size means nothing if there is no substance to it. People study Elizabeth Browning’s incredibly long poem, Aurora Leigh, as well as the really slim Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti. The actual writing of The Sahara Testaments took about four years, although the material had been gathering in my mind since 2003. I set myself a target of a thousand quatrains on the Sahara. I almost stopped at the halfway mark when I began to question the arbitrary figure of a thousand quatrains. Can one set out to write one thousand megabites of poetry? What does that kind of objective imply? The Sahara is really large though, and infinitely engaging. There is always new material to write on.

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