Today, we introduce you to Daphne Ayo, whose poem “Uncaged” placed second in our fifth annual poetry contest.
Daphne, Welcome to The PBS Blog!
What is your name, and where are you from?
My name is Daphne Adeola Ayo, and I am from Kogi state, Nigeria.
Nigeria in the houseeee.
When did you first fall in love with poetry?
I fell in love with poetry in Junior Secondary School Three. I think that’s Grade 9, the third year of Junior High in American parlance. Our English language teacher had asked the class to write a poem, and just like that, I found one of my absolute loves; poetry! It became, for that teenager, a form of therapy, a friend, a soulmate, if you will.😊
Yasss. What was the inspiration behind your poem?
Hmmm. There is so much negativity in the world that sometimes it is hard to see the positives. It can be hard to fight back against the constraints which keep us “in check”, to change the status quo. However, it can be done. “Uncaged”, I would say, was inspired by this ever-growing desire to stand up and show up for myself and my dreams despite all the ‘can’ts’, ‘should nots’ and all the odds stacked up against me as an opinionated, ambitious woman in a man’s world. It’s my way of telling others like me that they can define freedom in their own words and have the strength to push through and break those bars.
Beautifully articulated! Who would it be if you could have lunch with your favorite poet, living or dead?
I have so many poets I look up to and admire. This is hard!😅 Can I choose two? I’ll choose two. Rumi and Warsan Shire.
Awesome. Daphne, are you into spoken word?
I have never recited my poem before an audience before. Well, except you count me as an audience.😂
I would really love to explore the world of spoken word poetry someday. I have one in the works, but it is too shy to leave its shell. The first time is always the hardest.
As an introvert, I feel you. It gets easier the more you do it!
What is your personal definition of freedom?
Freedom means so much to me. I doubt you can even begin to understand how much, and I think that was why the theme resonated so well with me and my pen was able to do its thing. Freedom for me is to do whatever I want (within reasonable limits, of course), to be whoever I want, to speak my feelings, to embrace my demons, to depend on nothing, to live, to love, to win, to lose, to laugh, to cry, to just be ME.
I heard that. What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career in poetry?
I would tell you what my close friends told me in many moments of doubt: “Do it!” I used to have this self-doubt over my poems, ‘Are they good enough for other people’s eyes?’ and sometimes I still do, but poetry is something that is personal and worth doing. It’s like being worried if people will like the colour of your eyes or the shape of your nose. It doesn’t matter as long as you own it and love it. If it brings you joy, do it! Take that pen and write, your poetry might be for a few, and that’s absolutely okay.
I love that, and I am sure you have just rescued someone from the bowels of doubt for sure. Please tell us more about your work.
I presently do not have any published books. Everything is still in the works. Some are very shy. I’ve written more poetry and flash fiction than I’ve done of any other genre. My works explore womanhood, grief, loss, love, feminism, friendship, domestic violence, mental health, stigma, and taboo topics in the Nigerian society. For the last one, I’m still building up my courage to share works on that.😅
Chile, we would LOVE to hear more about those taboo topics! We are all about normalizing taboos around here.
Where do you see yourself a year from now?
I’ve learnt not to really project into the future. If you live in Nigeria, you’ll understand why.😅
Daphne, you gonna stop teasing us now! Lol
I do hope that I would have taken a significant leap of growth in my goal to become a creative writer while smashing my other goals as well.
Now, tell us. What’s one topic that is Taboo in Nigeria?
That would be homosexuality. I think it intriguing that although it definitely exists, most people would rather pretend it doesn’t.
Thank you once again for everything!💙
You’re Welcome hun!
Now, let us dig into this poem!
“Uncaged” by Daphne Adeola Ayo
I sing of words hidden behind my tongue
and of rare, bleeding emotions masked in a song.
My fears and tears take shelter underneath the ink of my poetry;
Poetry which regales tales of sutured pains sautéed in silky smiles,
tales of scars adorned in sordid lies of healing,
tales where blue skies rebel in hues of grey and dark clouds herald gloom.
I hear the dirges from faraway,
singing of doom and caged dreams.
These bars won’t budge;
bars of tortured silence and locks of pain
This caged bird will sing:
In lines of euphemism,
in words of hope and wishes made on starry nights.
That one day, its dark and dreary nights would seek the dawn
and tell tales of battles fought but barely won,
of words breaking chains to escape oaths of silence,
tales of mended wings and beloved demons,
tales of how freedom at long last_____
heeded my relentless summons.
Daphne is a Nigerian writer who believes in the power and magic of the pen. A student of Classics at the University of Ibadan, she is an avid fan of canine animals, chocolates, and books.
She loves to read, digest, and write poetry. Her works have appeared in her personal poetry journal, on her Instagram account @dee_.vox, and in Classics Press publications, University of Ibadan.
Her works explore themes such as womanhood, love, loss, friendship, and more.
When she is not writing or sleeping, Daphne watches Kdrama, stage plays or listens to Brymo.