Meet an author: Dami Ajayi
Dami Ajayi is a poet, essayist, music critic, digital publisher and medical doctor. His debut book of poems, Clinical Blues (2014) was nominated for Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize (2015), and shortlisted for the Melita Hume Prize. He is a Senior Registrar at Yaba NeuroPsychiatric Hospital in Lagos State, Nigeria.
1. When did you start writing and why?
I started writing poems when I was 11. Since then, I don’t think I ever stopped. The longest I have stayed without writing is about one month. I write copiously when I am at my busiest. I even write poems in examination halls. I started writing seriously in 2007. I was in medical school at Ife and I discovered that writing was something I really cared for. I started writing professionally in 2013. By professionally, I mean a notch above writing seriously—I write with an expectation to get paid. I write because I can write. It is one of those things I think I am good at doing. I also write because I see it as a duty to bear witness to my time.
2. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
I don’t think anything is ever complete. Ergo if you give me Clinical Blues back in manuscript, I will change a few things in it. I think this is the reason why books have different editions too. I think this is why stories also have sequels. But I know that there is a time when an author must let his/her work come out for air. That is what publishing is about.
I write when I am at my busiest. I even write poems in examination halls. - Dami Ajayi Click To Tweet
3. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
The hardest part is that you are only as good as your last sentence or book or poem or story or essay. The easiest part is saying you are a writer.
4. What books would you say shaped your writing?
If I start to name them, the sun will set here. And the phrasing of this question presupposes that my writing is fully shaped. I am excited by the possibilities of every new thing that I read. I still like to talk about Donatus Nwoga’s West African Verses and Soyinka’s Poems of Black Africa. Funny enough, my copies of both books have been filched.
5. Are you working on anything at the moment?
I just published my second book of poems, A Woman’s Body is a Country. I am in recovery, drinking tap water.
6. How do you feel about bad reviews?
Bad review is good publicity, period.
7. What do you do when you are not writing?
I read. I listen to music. Sometimes, I dance. I talk with friends over beers.
8. Have you ever read a book that made you cry? Which?
Stay with Me had the emotive power to make me blink a few tears. I felt sorry for Akin and Yejide.Bad review is good publicity, period. - Dami Ajayi Click To Tweet
9. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
I am terrible at writing film reviews.
10. What books by a Nigerian Author would you recommend to a friend?
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile
A Good Mourning by Ogaga Ifowodo