Q1: When did you start writing and who has influenced you the most?
Prosper: I started writing at a very tender age. Since I was in primary school, I would scribble names of imaginary characters in the back of my book and try to piece a dialogue or two. When I had nothing doing then, in school, I would curl up reading the novels of James Hadley Chase, and marvel at the cadence of language, and the way stories and events were interwoven to form an extended narrative. Chase was one of my foremost influencers, up until my university days, when a lecturer of mine, Mr. Mathias Orhero, introduced me to the American poet, Charles Bukowski. My first encounter with Bukowski was with two poems, “Bluebird” and “Cows in Art Class,” and then I knew…I knew I wanted to write beautiful poetry just like that!
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Prosper: I subscribe to the idealist notion that art, and the writing process is inexhaustible. If everyone tells their story right, the issue of “wanting to be a writer” will be non-existent. Everyone has a story to tell, not everyone has to be a writer to tell them. For me, writing is just one out of the many ways to get my message across.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Prosper: I’d say my mother. My mother is a magic lamp. When gently stroked, she releases a genie of untold stories.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Prosper: I grew up in the city of Lagos. The bustle and hustle of the town has been one of the things that has kept me alive and better equipped in this part of the world. I tell people who care that: “Lagos wrings you dry,” and they never really do not understand what I mean. I like to see Lagos as a confluence, a potpourri or melting pot for language (especially as regards Nigerian literature). Lagos affords you that neo-liberal opportunity to subscribe to key tenets of a language in Nigeria, be it: Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa. This is because of its metropolitan structure in society. Lagos is what New York is to the US; and I consider myself lucky to be able to weave the languages I have accumulated, in such tangible time, to the kind of poems I write.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively?
Prosper: My most meaningful work is the poem, “I Know the Knife Scars Serrating Down Their Backs,” published in Feral Poetry. I think the meaning this poem carries can be alluded to the fact that I laced it with lots of emotions and empathy.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Prosper: Playing video games. Reading thrillers, and watching movies.
Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from your writings?
Prosper: My favourite line from my writing is culled from the last line an unpublished poem “all I will leave behind are a pair of starry eyes—/my nude hanging/on air like jobless memory; mourners sabled/ & the song falls from/ their mouth like untrimmed grass: hallelujah!/ latched in me.“
Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that come back to you as an inspiration?
Prosper: Funnily enough, I don’t really have a taste for a special variety of songs. I can listen to anything that isn’t garbage; but I must admit, I have always found peace in listening to Hindi (Tamil) singers. Especially the likes of Shreya Ghoshal, Arijit Singh, and Aditya Roy Kapur.
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books or events that you would like to promote?
Prosper: I have written quite a number of chapbooks; nothing that needs to see the light for now. I am just hopeful that one of these days, I will be ready to let go. Sometimes, even art is a responsibility to be saddled, and I understand this well. I am a bit hopeful about the year 2024. You never know. You never know.
Bio: Prosper Ìféányí is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and story writer. An alum of Khōréō Magazine, his works are featured or forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, New Delta Review, Parentheses Journal, Identity Theory, and elsewhere. Reach him on Twitter and Instagram @prosperifeanyii