Eriata Oribhabor is a poet and former Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Abuja chapter. His revolutionary strides as chairman of ANA Abuja returned the chapter to its pride of place as the centre of literary activities, especially with its much celebrated and high profile guest author reading sessions.
In Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom’s words, “Eriata Oribhabor is a father, a literary icon and a humanitarian.” He is passionate about positive change for his country Nigeria and encourages young writers to develop their potentials towards achieving their dreams.
Eriata is renowned as a promoter of Naija languej and has written and edited poetry books in the language viz; “Abuja na Kpangba an Oda puem dem” (IFRAOribhabor, 2011). He is the Editor; If Yu Hie Se A De Prizin; antoloji of puem-dem fo languej. Author of “Beautiful Poisons” and Crossroads and The Rubicon. His forthcoming works include; Gud Old (a collection of Essays written in English) and Editor, “Amebo Yad and oda ple-dem” an anthology of plays written in Naija languej
Oribhabor manages a publishing outfit called Something for Everybody Ventures.
According to the man himself, “Eriata Oribhabor is an easy going principled poet who loves life and strives in concert with others to use the craft of poetry writing, reading and performances to positively impact his clime.”
In a recent virtual chat with Akindeji Ola, he discussed his writings and poetry promotion in Nigeria.
How did Poetry find you?
It’s the reverse in my case. I found poetry way back in my secondary school days reading literature. It was one of those subjects, I excelled with pride and had an A. Reading the famous West African Verse etc was enriching. Most of us started from there.
Considering your level of influence in the literary world especially Poetry today, do you see yourself exploring other literary depths in the future?
My level of influence? Still wondering if I truly have an influence worth mentioning. If this is a compliment, I accept it with every sense of equanimity. Regarding other literary depths, I take it to mean other genres of literature. The answer is yes. Meanwhile, my decision to promote poetry doesn’t preclude my love for other genres of literature. I write prose and drama respectively and would definitely support their promotion for the ultimate promotion of reading and writing in Nigeria.
How do you get inspired to write?
Everything and anything inspire my writing; from discussions to happenings within my environment or others I come in contact with as well as unfolding developments in the polity and across the oceans. Sometimes, I wonder how I get inspired to pen things. Some say they await the prodding or inspiration of a Muse to write. In my case, I am mused to write at any time. Everything and anything is muse to me. There are times, I cause myself to write to satisfy the moment depending on what state I find myself.
How do you find combining writing with promoting literature?
Combining writing with promoting literature is like having “pounded yam” and “omu ebe” a traditional soup of the Esans in Edo State.
Hardly is there any up and coming writer in Nigeria today that has not been affected by you due to your active promotion of literature. What drives that passion for promotion?
The drive for whatever I do, rests on selflessness with a burning urge to give back to society.
Poets in Nigeria(PIN) is a major platform for Poetry promotion in Nigeria. What birthed the idea of PIN?
The PIN initiative has come at the nick of time. It’s to provide a veritable platform for Nigerian poets and poets across the oceans to hone and trade their crafts whilst connecting them for greatness. I wanted a platform where young poets would gladly promote and own. With PIN’s Quarterly Journal manned/edited by a young undergraduate named Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom, it testifies to how practically possible for the youth to manage our affairs for good. Also part of the PIN family are numerous young poets/non poets happily rendering selfless services for humanity’s uplift.
What hopes do you have for PIN in the near future?
My hope for PIN is to have it registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, have a Board of Trustees and run it as a corporate body managed by young selfless Nigerians who know their onions. Ultimately, it will be a legacy and reference point for poetry and poetry Renaissance in Nigeria.
How will you describe the government’s efforts towards the improvement of literature in Nigeria?
Judging by the current secondary school syllabus where literature was consigned as an inconsequential course, government efforts towards improvement of literature is not encouraging. Literature, like English and Mathematics, should be made compulsory in Nigerian schools. This will sound the beginning of seriousness in this regard.
The annual food Poetry contest sponsored by Poets in Nigeria is a peculiar innovation. It could have been any other theme. Why food?
Food is a daily requirement fueling lives alive. Food is part and parcel of cultures and window to the heart, soul and history of peoples. Without food, human existence would find no meaning. There are countless reasons why food should be promoted. Uniquely gifted as a foundation of the art, using poetry for the promotion of food is perfect. It’s an initiative that happened on me.
Anything new we can look forward to from PIN?
Festival Poetry Calabar (initiative of PIN) now owned by Poetry Festival Foundation and PIN Awards Ceremony 2017.
Any words of encouragement for young writers who are aspiring to “get there” one day?
The advice I usually give, and would always give is for every writer to first demonstrate passion for writing as a social service before aiming for pecuniary gains. Secondly, the one who loves to write should embrace reading with fervent passion. Finally, never consider yourself as arrived in writing.