Pen to Print Alumni and Write On! page editor Eithne Cullen interviewed Dauda Ladejobi after she’d come across his work when she saw the film he’d made in showcasing local poets in lockdown. The film was featured on the Write On! Showcase page in March.
Dauda Ladejobi (Sols) is an award-winning, Nigerian born poet and workshop leader from east London. He has performed his poetry at the Rich mix, Barbican and Roundhouse along with various other venues and festivals around London and the UK, including Edinburgh and Camden Fringe 2018. He also spearheads the Spoken, Not Stirred team that runs a monthly Open Mic Night in Barking, along with running workshops with schools, colleges and community groups.
EC: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?
DL: Socially aware poetry, influenced by the beat poet and def jam movement.
EC: Can you tell us a bit about your latest project?
DL: Currently, I’m coordinating a youth group for young black men in Barking, using various art forms to discuss issues around mental health.
EC: What inspired you to get involved in community arts in the first place and what inspires you now?
DL: My inception into the arts was through youth groups and community initiatives and seeing how beneficial that was for me. I want to keep that same offering available for future generations and for those who feel more comfortable in those settings.
EC: Last season’s theme Write On! explored the theme of ‘Growth’ and how we navigated spring as the season of change. With that in mind, do you use changes in the natural world to motivate your writing/work?
DL: I think the seasons can be a massive influence on our day to day, especially for mood. My writing is often directed by my mood and setting, so I would say changes in the natural world are major driving factors in my work, especially for tone and mood.
EC: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
DL: Don’t stop, understand where your voice is powerful and don’t be afraid to share your work.
EC: How important is it to you to have an active arts life in the community you live in?
DL: It matters a lot, as it’s another way for me to connect with the community.
EC: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
AN: We hope to have more audio and visual pieces for people to engage with, collaborations with other organisations and poets. At the moment, we have started a podcast you can engage with visually on YouTube or audio on podcast platforms such as Spotify.
EC: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
DL: A phoenix: being able to fly around on your pet is cool but so is your pet being able to respawn!
Don’t stop, understand where your voice is powerful and don’t be afraid to share your work.