BOSE TSEVENDE: “girls would hire me to help them write love letters to their boyfriends for a fee”

Here’s a story that begins with ‘once upon a time…’ there was a funny and very playful girl who was a voracious reader of literature texts. By the time she was in class 2, she had finished reading every single literature text that survived the dust on her school library shelves.

Even though most of her other subjects suffered, she had a good command of English language and this some how made up for the other drawbacks. She was a very active member of the drama and debating society who represented her school and brought back trophies to show for it. In her final year in school, girls would hire her to help them write love letters to their boyfriends for a fee of postal stamps and a lot of other things.

But let’s go back to a time before now. In a small town called Ifira in Akoko East of Ondo State, a little girl was born. Her father danced like he would hurt his feet and his happiness stood above the clouds. Her mother wore her garment of joy and sang her favourite Ifira song until the morning birds became envious. Her birth was favorable as the entire season embraced surplus and made abundance.

When she grew older and came into the city, her light illuminated the entire earth. Her feet drummed rhythm and her body sang many songs. Her figure was a gift and this gift was incalculable.

One day, she found her way into an organization and as free spirited as she was, she granted a request to be interviewed.

These are excerpts from EB’s interview session with a legend:

On Why She Writes:

It all started with me just wanting to write because i felt i could do it too. And i used to read a lot of literature growing up. But as i grew older, i realized that there was a story for me to tell. I had something important to say either about about me, about events, or about issues arising in the society.I became a social observer. And now writing is a tranquilizer for the pains i feel.

Connecting poetry with choreography and dance:

My choreography is sometimes informed and created around a music or song i have heard, or a societal event or issue,and it may be informed by the body of a dancer as one of the tools of choreography. This is the same way my poetry can be informed by events, what i see , hear or feel and anything that catches my fancy. The dance itself is an expression of all of these. There’s choreography in poetry and dance,and dance in choreography and poetry.

How much research she does before writing:

I do just enough research to get my facts right, especially as it concerns national events and social issues. If it concerns me personally, i’d know what to say extensively.But stretching to a global phenomenon,it is good to
make detailed research.

List of works she’s done and where to get copies:

1.Introduction To Dance and Choreography- The basics

2. The Man Lives (drama)

3. U Are A Poet (poetry)

4. Streams (poetry) [It was nominated for ANA / Cadbury Award 2010]

5. Pieces Of Peace (poetry)
They are currently not in the bookstores. I sometimes sell in the comfort of my office, and at public national gatherings.

The most difficult thing about writing, dancing and choreography:

What i find more difficult is answering this question. Lol
Writing for me is not a task at all because i do not force it.
Once i find a muse i just do it effortlessly.The wording will come, and as long as i do it instantly, there will be no problems at all.

In choreography you may have a hitch because of the tools of choreography, you need dancers to interpret your work, and they may not be dancing or giving you the pictures you expect to see. In this case, the choreographer will find away to make his or her statement clear enough.

Regarding dance, i will never have a problem dancing. The energy level may drop as age gets friendlier, but because dance is about the rhythmic movement of the body to music in time and space, i will always be able to dance.

Talking about ¬†writer’s block:

Like i mentioned earlier, i don’t force myself to write, even though i’m aware that some writers just sit down and decide that they want to write. For me it’s different.And maybe i will have to learn that.

Feed backs from readers/audience and what they say:

I get a lot of feed backs from friends, colleagues, students and sometimes readers I’ve never met at all. Many tell me how much they enjoy reading my poems because it is easy to understand.And that sometimes when it is so humorous they laugh.And when it is sad they weep. I once noticed a young man who kept coming to my office to buy five to ten copies of Streams every week until i asked him what he was doing with so many copies of the same book.He simply told me that students in the hostels love it, they use it to compose love letters to their girls to appear creative and brilliant.

It’s also very encouraging to get positive feed backs from colleagues and students especially when i set my poems to music and dance.

What makes a good story for her:

I love African stories as told by Africans. Stories about African people, how the live their lives, their joys and sorrows, their love lives, their works and aspirations, their past, present and future, their dreams and beauty and the simplicity with which they live their lives. A good story should be able to communicate in every simple way without losing its plot.
I will read an African novel or collection of poems any day.

On Poetry and 21st century Nigerian poet:

I must confess that some Poets are simply sweet and do communicate effectively. But there are also a lot of poets today who simply think that you are a good poet if you just put difficult meaningless words together in other to appear wonderful. I believe that one of the purposes of writing is for your reader(s) to be able to understand.But if you are not communicating , then what? Read about all the great poets like Chaucer, Femi Osofisan, Niyi Ogundare and others. You will enjoy reading them and you won’t need a fortune teller to interpret their poems to you.

Tell us anything you would want us to know:

Hahahahahaaaaa! It’s better when you ask me about myself. Now you are asking me to brag about myself, and i don’t like to. Lol.

I am just a fun-loving girl who could be very friendly and easy-going. But i’m also a very private person who could be difficult.So simply put; i am an artist with all the attended privileges and temperaments, a good heart and a good head in the right place. And I’m a christian who walks in the grace and the liberty where with Christ has set me free!

Her name is Bose Ayeni Tsevende.
She’s a dancer, choreographer, poet,a mother and grandmother of many children.
She’s a dance teacher in the department of Theater and Film Arts- University of Jos, Nigeria.
She’s a L-E-G-E-N-D!

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