Author of the Week — Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún


An interview with Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún. Read our review of his poetry collection, Edwardsville by Heart here.

LE: Hello Kọ́lá please tell us a bit about yourself.

Kọ́lá: I was born in Àkóbọ̀, in Ìbàdàn, Nigeria. My parents built a house there. I was the fifth child of six children, but the first child born in that house, hence the name “Kọ́láwọlé”. My ancestors came from Ìrè Èkìtì in present-day Ekiti State, but my grandfather, and father, were born in Ìbàdàn, so I’m a native Ìbàdàn son. I have a BA from the University of Ibadan and an MA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I’m currently in-and-out of a PhD programme in Linguistics.

LE: What you do for a living? Is writing your full time job?

Kọ́lá: I currently work part-time as a Lexicographer for Oxford University Press Dictionaries (Oxford, UK). I also supervise a number of language-lexicography projects I founded, like, and My research includes speech recognition and synthesis for Yorùbá and other Nigerian languages. I live in Lagos, with my wife and two kids.

LE: When did you start writing and what prompted it?

Kọ́lá: I started writing (poetry) in high school, but I experimented much earlier with short stories and comics. But I took it more seriously in the university when I was exposed to more structural forms from across the world, which complemented what I already knew from reading Shakespeare and the like. But the first work I was ever paid for was a nonfiction essay for Farafina Magazine in 2007. It’s likely that my earlier writings were prompted by my desire to see my own work in print, like my father who had published extensively in Yorùbá before I was born and when I was growing up.

A desire to memorialize an enchanting time I spent in Southern Illinois as a teacher and student prompted the writing of this current book Edwardsville by Heart.

LE: Are you currently working on any book and if you are, what is it about?

Kọ́lá: I have a number of book drafts in my computer. Some are poetry, some are essays, and some are interviews. I also recently won a writing scholarship to do a non-fiction book on Wọlé Ṣóyínká, so that’s my primary task for the next 12-18 months.

LE: Congratulations on winning the Miles Morland Foundation scholarship. Lastly, what are your hobbies/ what do you do to relax?

Kọ́lá: Thank you. I enjoy swimming. I like walking. I also like cycling, but I haven’t done much of this in Lagos, since I have a morbid aversion to being knocked down by reckless drivers.

Edwardsville by Heart is Kọ́lá’s debut book.

Edwardsville by Heart

He is on Twitter and has a blog.