‘Writers are poor’ is one of the oft repeated sentences one hears in literary circles. This is true for a lot of writers. Book sales have never been great and with the advent of e-books, it’s reduced further. A writer who lives on royalty from books and the occasional speaking engagement will be poor. Yet, there are writers who are successful and doing well financially. Speaking at the first book reading held at Rele Gallery on Sunday, August 9, award winning writer Toni Kan, spoke on the need for writers to extend their frontiers beyond just their published works. “Having a book gives you recognition. You can capitalise on this recognition to take on other gigs. Someone wants to pay you to write their biography or pay you to write a speech? I have had people call me to write for them because they’ve read my book.”
Toni Kan was a guest at the event alongside award winning artist, photographer and writer, Victor Ehikhamenor. Both writers read from their books: Toni Kan from his collection of short stories, Nights of a Creaking Bed and soon to be published The Carnivorous City; while Victor Ehikhamenor read from his collection of creative non fiction, Excuse Me. Love Letters, a piece that looked back on the now forgotten art of writing love letters and the attendant drama was the source of much laughter. This led to a discussion on how the internet and text messaging was changing the English Language.
The mostly literary audience participated actively in the discussions that revolved around the relationship between fiction and non fiction, and the writers’ work.
Signed copies of a cartoon poster of the two writers were given away to early birds but the big prize, a Victor Ehikhamenor original, a collaboration with Toni Kan went to a lucky attendee who answered a quiz question correctly.
Sighted at the event which was anchored by OAP and TV personality, Wana Udobang were writers Igoni Barrett, Femke Van Zeiji and Lola Shoneyin who was accompanied by her husband Olaokun Soyinka; spoken word poet Efe Paul Azino, afrobeat musician Ade Bantu and photographer Abraham Oghobase. The turnout was impressive as provision for extra seats had to be made.
Rele with this first reading has set a standard for book readings in the future.
More photos below.