Not new to expressing emotions and weaving words as he has been doing this since he was eleven, Dami Ajayi is a medical doctor, writer/poet and a music critic. In 2012, his debut poetry collection, Clinical Blues, was shortlisted for the International Melita Hume Poetry Prize. Either on Sarabmag, where he serves as the Fiction Editor, on Olisatv or Twitter, Mr Ajayi subtly charms his audience into a world where science and art dances to his tune.
NG: Writing your first poem at 11, what was the inspiration?
Dami Ajayi: It wasn’t inspired. I had started a magazine with a few friends of mine in junior secondary school and we had all forms of writing, except poetry, so I picked my pen and composed two poems, one called Money and another called Life.
NG: It must be tasking to balance the love of medicine and literature, how have you been managing the time factor?
Dami Ajayi: True, time is never enough but I am not a first. Chekhov. Maugham. Carlos Williams. They all grappled with both. And on the home front, James Henshaw, Wale Okediran, Niran Okewole. They are writing and healing simultaneously, so why blame time when you can race against it?
NG: Dami Ajayi – the poet vs the Doctor vs the music critic, how do you wear these faces?
Dami Ajayi: Music is my first love. As a child, I loved music. As a teenager, I pressed my ear so hard to the radio that I was the go-to guy if you knew a tune but don’t know who sang it. In a club in Nairobi last year, I was with a couple of friends and I could predict the next song of the D.J just from the opening beats, I am that crazy about music. Poetry is something I taught myself. Doctoring is what I learnt in school.
NG: A lot of your poems revolve around sex and sexuality, why is that? What inspires your writing?
Dami Ajayi: Not a lot of my poems, no? Have you read my book? So Freud had this nice solution to all things. Pleasure, most especially sex. I am Neo-Freudian in a traditional sense. I think sex influences our lives in a myriad of ways. Plus, I wrote a good number of my poems in my early 20s so excuse their exuberance. The naughty poems have an uncanny way of being the most memorable. To the question of inspiration, that is simple. I take what my senses present to me.
NG: With Saraba Magazine, what gap were you trying to fill and how is that going?
Dami Ajayi: Our plan is to create Unending Voices. And with our 18 issue almost ready for print and about 7 years since we started, we have published close to 200 authors and pretty much the bigger names around. So I guess that is going very well.
NG: Are you working on any project presently? What should we be looking forward to?
Dami Ajayi: I am doing three projects.
One is my collection of short stories, I took to calling it “People You May Know” recently.
Second is another collection of poems called, “The World According to Affection”
Third is a book on Nigerian Music.
NG: Share with us your five favorite books/poems ever?
Dami Ajayi: Best Poems.
- With Usura by Ezra Pound
- The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock by T.S Eliot
- Ode to the Drum by Yusef Komunyakaa
- Doorag by Philip B. Williams
- Elegy Written in the Country Yard by Thomas Gray
NG: What is your Writer’s essential and any advice for budding writers?
Read more than you write.
Live more than you write.
Finish whatever you write.