Tell us about yourself?
I am Valentine Madukife Okolo. I am also known with the performance name, Poetval. I am a poet, a filmmaker and a social activist.
You mentioned that you are a poet, tell us about your journey to becoming one?
Initially, I was not into poetry. I was more into prose. I was actually working on a novel when I met a young lady who wrote some poetry. Before then, I considered poetry too drab and too academic for my liking. But the poetry she wrote was none of those things. It was intimate, and alive. I liked the fact that a poem could make you feel. That for me was a turning point. And I have been writing poetry ever since.
Every poet has what inspires their poetry, what is your inspiration?
I am inspired by things happening around me. The joys and the pains of other people and also mine.
How long does it take you to write a short or lengthy poem?
Most times I don’t determine the length of my poems. The poems determine their own length as I write them. As the inspiration flows. Sometimes it takes me a day. At other times it can take me a week or even months before I complete a poem.
Has your work being published in any literary magazine?
Yes, I have. But it took me close to 100 rejections from different literary magazines before I finally got published by Apogee Journal, an online literary magazine based in the United State of America. I would later also get published by Origins Journal and Shot Glass Journal both US based literary journals.
You recently published your poetry collection, I Will Be Silent. Tell us about it and the inspiration behind it?
I Will Be Silent is a poetry book that I have been working on for some years now. This work almost didn’t come out because I kept revising it and adding poems to it, and having some removed, and trying to wring some perfection out of it. I continued this until a friend made me realize that I just had to let it go, and publish it. The poems that make up the book have been inspired by a lot of things that I felt in others and things that I felt in myself. I feel keenly the emotions and pains of other people. So, when I wrote most of the poems in that book, I wrote from the standpoint of those who went through those ordeals. And I wrote it from their own perspective.
The book is divided into three sections: Pain, Perseverance, and Pleasure, why that?
Those are the major themes of the book. The first section “Pain” contains poems that have to do with suffering, hardship, heart break and related stuff. The pains that people feel when they lose someone or something happens to them. The second section, ‘Perseverance” deals with poems that come after one has been able to come to terms with their pain or suffering. And the final section “Pleasure” is made up of poems that convey the joy and love that one gets after you have journeyed through everything that you had to go through.
Can you briefly let us into your favorite poem in each section?
This will not be so easy because I love most of the poems in the book. Well, I will say in the Pain section, I will choose “I Will Be Silent”. In the Perseverance section it will be “Free Fall”. And in the Pleasure section I will pick “Storm”.
Where can one get a copy of your book?
You can get a copy of my book on Amazon. And also in some book shops in Lagos, Nigeria.
For anyone who wants to catch up on you, how can they reach you?
They can reach me on my twitter handle @iampoetval.