I became a sceptic of one way of seeing the world. And I think it is what started me in my awareness that any worldview is superstitious.
At the heart of 'The Famished Road' is a philosophical conundrum - for me, an essential one: what is reality? Everybody's reality is subjective; it's conditioned by upbringing, ideas, temperament, religion, what's happened to you.
When I write a poem, I go into a state of self-forgetfulness, and something higher takes over; I like to call it my best self.
I study people all the time. For some reason, we're not very good at seeing what's there or hearing what we're hearing.
Politics is the art of the possible; creativity is the art of the impossible.
You see, I was told stories, we were all told stories as kids in Nigeria. We had to tell stories that would keep one another interested, and you weren't allowed to tell stories that everybody else knew. You had to dream up new ones.
Home can be the friend you have been searching for all your life or the person you met once very briefly.
Reading is an act of civilization; it's one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.
The worst time was 1983. Love and life and everything went wrong. I reached absolute rock bottom. I saw the Minotaur at the bottom of the abyss. I learnt of the harshness of the world and its impartiality to human failure.
We never think that our mothers will die. It was like suddenly an abyss opened at my feet - I was standing on nothing. It was the strangest thing. Her passing away ripped the solidity out of the world.
Some of my reactions are very Nigerian. I still believe that words are things.
Fire is one of my temperaments. It is behind all my work... Fire is a chemical presence.
You cannot come to a Nigerian restaurant without having pepper soup.
'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' had a formative effect on me. I think it's one of those works that if you encounter it very early you're doubly enchanted by the beauty of the language and the strangeness of the vision. It stays with you.
Artists and writers have to deal with the element that makes the real real and the dream real while you are dreaming it. That's where stories and poems get their power.
The poem is never complete in the mind. It emerges, and then it's like an act of unveiling. The unveiling is the longest and most difficult part of it.
I began my writing life as a poet, so poetry has always been fundamental. I evolved from poetry to journalism to stories to novels. But poetry was always there.
I am one year older than Nigeria at 51. In a human life, 51 might be old. But it is very young for a nation. By that, I mean a Nigeria conscious of itself as a nation.
I believe in leavening. You can't have words sticking out too much, like promontories. They disturb the density. You have to flatten them, or raise the surrounding terrain.
The worst realities of our age are manufactured realities. It is therefore our task, as creative participants in the universe, to re dream our world. The fact of possessing imagination means that everything can be re dreamed. Each reality can have it
There ought to be three traditions in the art of humanity: the realistic, the visionary and the wild.
One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits. The whole of human history is an undiscovered continent deep in our souls. There are dolphins, plants that dream, magic birds inside us. The sky is inside us. The earth is in us.
A man's greatest battles are the ones he fights within himself.
Maybe there are only three kinds of stories: those we live, those we tell, and those that help our souls fly upwards to a greater life.
The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.
The road will never swallow you. The river of destiny will always overcome evil. May you understand your fate. Suffering will never destroy you, but will make you stronger. Success will never confuse you of scatter your spirit, but will make you fly higher into the good sunlight. Your life will always surprise you.
We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It's just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn't have expected.
To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art: they
Don't despair too much if you see beautiful things destroyed, if you see them perish. Because the best things are always growing in secret.
Our time here is magic! It's the only space you have to realize whatever it is that is beautiful, whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique, in. It's the only space.
The magician and the politician have much in common: they both have to draw our attention away from what they are really doing.
Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.
When you can imagine you begin to create and when you begin to create you realize that you can create a world that you prefer to live in, rather than a world that you're suffering in.
Beware of the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.
We have not yet arrived, but every point at which we stop requires a re-definition of our destination.
Bad things will happen and good things too. Your life will be full of surprises. Miracles happen only where there has been suffering. So taste your grief to the fullest. Don't try and press it down. Don't hide from it. Don't escape. It is life too. It is truth. But it will pass and time will put a strange honey in the bitterness. That's the way life goes.
I am not fighting for success, just to get more beauty out of myself and share it with more people.
The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.
We disliked the rigours of existence, the unfulfilled longings, the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love, the ignorance of parents, the fact of dying, and the amazing indifference of the Living in the midst of the simple beauties of the universe. We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see.
a dream can be the highest point of a life