Welcome to another interview series with The Sparkle Writers Hub. Our guest writer is doing so much with arts and we can’t wait to learn from him.
Hello Clement. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?
I’m Igbor Clement, popularly known by my stage name Clemency Green and online alias ThatPoetClem. I’m a writer, poet, lyricist, event compere, fashion model and a medical student.
You are a poet and spoken word artist. How did you develop a passion for these two things?
Poetry and spoken word are one and the same. Poetry has a wide variety of forms. Spoken word poetry is simply a kind of poetry that is said out loud. I started writing poetry from my early childhood. I still have poems from my junior secondary school days. I grew up a voracious reader thanks to my parents. My dad has this mighty bookshelf and endless stacks of vintage magazines. My mum teaches literature and I took interest in it as a child (I still read her books). I write prose too. I used to run a number of blogs when I had more time. I still contribute to and serve as an editor for some print and online publications.
I took up spoken word as a profession sometime in 2013. In 2014, I contested in a War Of Words National Poetry Slam and finished 3rd. Since then, I’ve gone on to grace countless stages and feature on several radio and TV shows. I released my “official” debut track this year titled “Scars”, and I’m currently working on my E. P. alongside a poetry chapbook.
It is one thing to write poems, it is another to perform it for others to enjoy. What skills have you learnt because of spoken word?
I agree, writing is one thing and performance is another. However, it starts with the writing. My content has to be very good so I’m constantly editing and re-editing and exploring more and more literary devices. As a performer, I have to bring the words to life before the audience and a lot of work goes into that as well. I have to rehearse regularly; movement, expressions, voice projection, modulation etc. My meagre background in Theatre helps a lot. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of event hosting and MC-ing and it helps to boost my crowd appeal and confidence.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My emotions. Anything that can make me feel, can make me write. Since there are countless things I can feel, there’s almost no limit to what I can write about. However, most of the work I share are about things that affect not just me but others as well.
Did you face any challenges in your journey and how were you able to overcome them?
A lot. Combining writing, performing and my other interests with pursuing a Medical Degree hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to learn how to my manage my time very well because sometimes, it’s a luxury.
Challenges like funding. The spoken word “industry” is still growing so artists are not paid much if they are paid at all. And we need the money. Planning shows, attending shows, recording audio, shooting videos and other media takes a lot of money.
Promoting poetry and spoken word has also not been easy but we’ve been pushing, putting the word out there as much as we can.
What do you love most about what you do?
Like I say in one of my pieces, “…the ills that come undone when I drop the mic (pen) and say ‘I’m done'”.
As a creative person, what are some of your frustrations with the way art is viewed in Nigeria?
It’s not encouraged as much as it should. That’s why no one tells their parents they want to be writers, poets or artists. There would be serious worries about your future. Nigerians do not appreciate art and literature as much as they should, especially financially. Also, the government and corporate bodies hardly give support because it’s not popular enough.
Creative people are more often than not taken for granted because people do not understand the amount of time and effort they put in their work. What do you think can be done to change this?
I’m thinking too, what can be done? You can’t take everybody through the creative process to see how hard it is. The work just has to speak for itself. I’m putting in more time and more effort so my work will not be taken for granted. Also, you have to value your art for it to be valued too. A lot has to go into branding and promoting as well.
What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?
Never underestimate the power of words. A writer is a very powerful person and that power should be well utilized. I’ve had feedback and testimonies that I never expected.
What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?
Inertia. I never understood that term in Basic Physics, but it makes sense now. You just have to start. Anyhow, anywhere, just start. Put that pen to paper, grab your keypads, climb that stage, grab that mic, just start! It keeps getting better after you’ve crossed the Rubicon.
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