“What if the support beams of a water reservoir were totally neglected?”—An interview with Iquo DianaAbasi Eke

Iquo DianaAbasi Eke’s short story ‘Yellow Slipper’ was published in our Solitude Issue. Our fiction editor Dami Ajayi interviewed her.

 

SARABA: Iquo DianaAbasi Eke is a household name in the spoken word poetry circles, but in the realms of fiction, it may still draw blanks. You were gracious enough to let Saraba publish your short fiction called Yellow Slipper. What inspires your fiction? Is it a different kettle of fish from your poetry?

IQUO DIANAABASI EKE: All writing for me, be it fiction or poetry, is inspired by what goes on around me.  I find that the rhythms of life form the base line for my prose. I may meet an interesting character in the course of my everyday work, and then this person inspires a lead or supporting character in a story. Alternatively, I could witness an incident and be moved to answer the question: what if…? From that point, I begin to imagine the circumstances leading up to that event, or maybe the many possibilities that could arise if the event was fast-forwarded a few weeks, months or years ahead.

SARABA: Poets are often accused of not being poetic in their fiction and poetry is arguably the engine behind prose. ‘Yellow Slipper’ is bereft of poetry in that sense. Did you make it so or it just so happen?

EKE: Hmm… I do agree that poetry is the engine behind prose, but I doubt that ‘Yellow Slipper’ is bereft of poetry. I think that the reason why certain descriptions come across as poignant, memorable even, is because of the poetry in the story itself. I must say that many times these are not planned, it happens to be the way my mind processes descriptions when I write.

I have had cause to edit some of the more flowery stuff when I write fiction, because it is very easy for a reader to get all entangled in a web of metaphors and rhetoric if a poet does not reign in some of the emotion when writing prose. So I find that striking a balance becomes key here. This is part of the discipline—cutting off excesses in order to allow the narrative to breathe.

 

IMG_20140405_000958
Photograph courtesy Iquo DianaAbasi Eke

 

SARABA: If you were asked to pick a genre which you most enjoy expressing yourself in, what will it be and why?

EKE: It is not for nothing that poetry is my first love, so my first response would be Poetry. But on deeper reflection, there are times when I am unable to tackle a subject matter sufficiently within the confines of poetry, and at such times I do not fight the muse that possesses me to express the thought in prose. So, in all honesty, it depends on the subject matter and the way it comes to me.

SARABA:  ‘Yellow Slipper’ tells the story of a crumbling marriage through the wife’s perspective. It manages to merge a heroic event, the saving of her neighbor’s daughter’s life with an uncanny discovery of her husband’s infidelity. It functions at the most elemental level as the biography of a place and a people. What was the motive behind such poised and evocative writing?

EKE:  When I set out to write ‘Yellow Slipper’, my intention was to give an answer to the question: What if the support beams of a water reservoir were totally neglected? Especially with the habit of neglect that characterizes our lives as a people in these parts.

In exploring that line of thought, I found that the tale of our Heroine came to me and told itself the way it did- and I allowed the story tell itself. Infidelity can raise a complex set of reactions, especially in an unsuspecting wife who is struggling to conceive…

SARABA: Do you have a book of prose up your sleeves? And how long do we have to wait?

EKE: Yes, I do have a book of fiction on the way. I usually don’t like to give any dates or time frame, but I can assure you it won’t be long now. Thank you Saraba!

 

To read ‘Yellow Slipper‘ by Iquo DianaAbasi Eke’s Download the Solitude Issue.

 

 

 

Saraba Magazine

Saraba is a literary magazine focused on the work of new writers in Nigeria and other parts of the African continent. Since 2009, we have published several issues of a magazine, editions of poetry chapbooks, and online-only work.

Saraba is a literary magazine focused on the work of new writers in Nigeria and other parts of the African continent. Since 2009, we have published several issues of a magazine, editions of poetry chapbooks, and online-only work.
Our ongoing Manuscript Project supports the publication of long-form fiction and nonfiction by ten new Nigerian writers.
Registered as a non-profit in Nigeria, we depend on the support of readers like you to publish new writing. Please donate.