I am a poet and playwright committed to amplifying and archiving untold stories. I am the recipient of the 2019 Shoot Festival Artist Development Award and the 2020 Peter Gutkind Prize. In 2017, I self-published my poetry anthology of ivory and ink which was later adapted into a play called an evening with verse writer (Tristan Bates, 2018). My award-winning play ‘an evening with verse writer’ (Warwick Arts Centre, 2019) was adapted into a film and screened at story story festival. Alongside writing, I have written and directed films which have been screened at change your style and story story festival. My work has also appeared in The Republic, BBC, Tate Modern, Birmingham Rep Theatre, Theatre Absolute, 20.35 Africa anthology and Africa Writes.
What is your current role?
I am a PhD researcher in Literary Practice at the University of Warwick. My research is a multi-modal project that aims to investigate the strategies, stories and songs used by the 10,000 Egba women who resisted colonial apparatuses of policing and taxation by British colonial administrators in 1947.
You’ve recently completed a four-part podcast called story story, can you tell us a bit about it?
story story pod is a 4-part audio series that transports listeners to key historical events in Black history through immersive storytelling and powerful soundscapes.
Before I produced the project, my productions always centred on Nigerian history — personal, cultural, and collective. At every show, an audience member asked: "Lanaire, how did you learn about this?" My response was to refer them to my own canon. Whilst studying for my MA in Creative Writing, I created a festival called story story fest which equipped storytellers with tools and resources to navigate the creative industry. After the online screening of my creative documentary, an evening with verse writer, I received even more questions that expressed a desire to learn about Nigerian history.
In May, I received funding from Warwick's Lord Rootes Memorial Fund which allowed me to develop story story pod. After months of research on the field of sonic studies, I created story story pod with support from a creative team at Loopify Media. Since its launch in October 2021, the podcast has attracted positive critical acclaim and been downloaded over 1,000 times across streaming platforms in less than a month. Remarkably, story story pod ranks #1 in the History Category of Nigeria’s Apple Podcasts despite being produced in the UK.
The stories you recount in your podcast are fascinating. Why did you choose these stories in particular?
I was familiar with these stories from reading texts, writing essays, and producing plays and performances. I had heard of Festac 77 in secondary school. I wrote an essay on the Ogoni Nine in my second year of university. The story of Queen Amina and the Egba Women’s Revolt were woven in my poems, essays, and dissertation, particularly because of my concern with the erasure of women’s long history of resistance. I chose these stories particularly because they celebrated the power of community in creating change. I believe that stories can stretch our imagination and raise consciousness so that people can act. Considering global movements like #blacklivesmatter and #endsars, I felt that these stories had the power to also equip listeners with hope and strategies for enacting change. For instance, the Egba Women’s Revolt and #endsars are concerned with similar issues - police brutality, the precariousness of human life, profit but also collective resistance.
By listening to these stories, I felt that listeners could bear witness to the stories of elders (living and dead) in literature, the arts, and the archives.
What do you hope listeners will take away from the stories and your podcast?
I hope listeners will understand the value of recovering histories to make sense of the present and chart better futures. I also hope listeners appreciate the transformative power of art in knowledge production and consciousness raising. Since the podcast’s release, I have received the most moving messages that have highlighted the urgency of recovering histories — especially histories that sit at the margins.
This project serves as a pedagogical tool and an artistic intervention in a world that excludes indigenous forms of knowledge situated in the archives and the arts. I hope listeners borrow from the knowledge that is shared within this project and apply it to their own lives.
What do you plan on doing next and what are your hopes for the future?
I hope to have a poetry pamphlet published and sonic collage released. My play ‘the egba revolt: protests, hymns and caskets’ were shortlisted for the Mustapha Matura Award. I hope to have that play commissioned by a theatre and toured worldwide in 2022.
Lanaire Aderemi can be found on lanaireaderemi.co
BA Sociology, 2020