Wale Bailey

Inkuru Series Interview: The African Story-with Wale Bailey

Wale Bailey is a Chef and the Managing Director of the Bailey Black Chef Brand. He is also currently working on an innovation which he calls PoetryTuesday: Changing the world through words. He is a big fan of politics and the Sustainable Developmental Goals.

Victoria: What are your most recent achievements?

Wale Bailey: You’ve really got questions I have to think about before I can answer. This would have to be registering PoetryTuesday as a business name and exploring business as PoetryTuesday.

Victoria: How did you discover poetry?

Wale Bailey: Hmm. Life at a time led me to poetry. I lead myself to discover poetry. At a point in my life, I got totally tired of pictures. Pictures seemed expensive to re-create. They made me discontented with who I was, what I had, and what I am. Instagram was my favourite social media application at that time. All I saw were things I majorly couldn’t afford. I took a break off pictures and decided to go into words, into poetry. I thought, that way, I could inexpensively create my world. This was my earliest discovery of poetry. The second and sustained period would be when I was rehabilitating from my first ever depressive episode. I was advised by my parents not to return to commercial cooking. I knew I had to do something! So, I took to reading whatever I thought was poetry. Over time, I fancied writing mine. I wrote some poems, started Poetry Tuesday, met a number of writers and literature lovers; and right now, I’m having a conversation with Victoria.

Victoria: How long have you been writing (When and how did you start writing)?  

Wale Bailey: I would say 2017. I always marvel when I hear folks say: “I’ve been writing since 3 years old” or “since primary 3”. Writing for me at those tender ages was just about doing assignments. I never really felt like I knew something or had a say. Maybe if I had a doll while growing up, I might want to write him (or her) a story or something. I started writing in 2017.

Victoria: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good poem?

Wale Bailey: A good poem should have a distinctive style, figures of speech, diction, imagery, rhythm, sound and voice. In the words of George Leclerc Buffon: “the style is the man himself”.

Victoria: How can one synchronize art, prose and poetry? Prose and poetry is also a form of literal art? Creative art?

Wale Bailey: I think prose and poetry are forms of art. If prose and poetry form a larger concept of art, then the synchronization is innate.

Wale Bailey
Wale Bailey via Twitter

Victoria: Praise this poem: We lay among thorns With no rose in sight We lay among thorns Our flesh pierced But we’re numb to the pain And came crumbling, was our mind And our feelings, destroyed Strength to get back up, we muster Hoping for a better tomorrow What we thought to be an option Turned against us And we are left with nothing, Only our tattered robes, Broken bones and shattered souls Walking the earth hopelessly With unanswered questions Ravaging our minds We say farewell, pain Where went gain? But still asking is this how we end? ©Tribesmen, 2020*.

Wale Bailey: These are my views: I have this bias of seeing poems in stanzas instead of being long and continuous. I yearn to see the first comma and full stop. The poem doesn’t have a title, meaning I have to define that myself… But we are numb to the pain… and came crumbling, was our mind and our feelings destroyed… does this mean you couldn’t feel it, but it had its effect all the same? It still was destructive? The first line we lay among thorns and the 8th line strength back up we muster are not so clear to me. I don’t understand this poem. There is a lot merged here. It’s not sequential and free-flowing!

Victoria: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Wale Bailey: That was 2017, my earliest memories and moments in PoetryTuesday.

Victoria: Describe your writing space.

Wale Bailey: This varies. Mostly, while I take walks to class, when I’m in class or ward round. Also, in my bed at times, when sleep wouldn’t come. For now, I’ve got a fluid writing space. As long as I am with my phone (and it’s charged), I’m good to go!

Victoria: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Wale Bailey: Read, read, write, read, re-write, read, write…

Victoria: A closing note for the young budding writers/poets. 

Wale Bailey: I would quote Airea D. Matthews: “somebody already wrote that poem that said everything you wanted to say? Write your poem anyway.”


*Note: The poem was churned up by the Tribesmen during a periodic poetry roll.

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