Theresa Lola is Making Waves in the Poetry Scene.
Photography: Larry Gorman
It was her mothers emphasis combined with participation at the Lagos Poetry Festival during a secondary school trip that sparked Theresa Lola’s love of writing. The British based Nigerian poet is now the joint winner of the Brunel International African Poetry prize, amongst many other titles she has collected over the past years.
Her emotive and thought provoking poetry can, at times, showcase the harsh realities of life. Theresa’s poetry touches on subject such as childhood, mistreatment and the wonders of the world. She received international recognition following her piece “Bring Back Our Girls”, a powerful poem discussing the Boko Haram kidnappings. Fellow British poet, Anthony Anaxagorou, has claimed, “Theresa Lola will soon become one of the most important writers in the UK".
Theresa also facilitates poetry workshops, spreading her love for the craft to schools and firms, encouraging others to express themselves in intimate and powerful ways, just as she does. Theresa also co-curates a live literature event, the Rhythm and Poetry party, which showcases spoken word alongside hip-hop tracks. She is also part of the poetry collective, Octavia Women of Colour collective and the creative collective SXWKS alongside London’s first young people’s laureate Caleb Femi.
Portrait of Us as Snow White
We inherited black holes for eyes,
so light was the benchmark we measured the beauty of skin against.
We sat in our dorm room
and discussed who the fairest of all was.
The Igbo girls claimed they could be cast as foreign
as long as the sun didn’t betray them.
The girls with skin the shade of the bronze masks
our ancestors carved directed the conversation.
The myth was that backstage curtains are dark colours
so that dark girls can camouflage into them.
We never said the word ‘race’, substituted ‘yellow pawpaw’ for ‘white’
as if we knew the word ‘white’ would peel our tongues down to a seed of guilt.
My bow legs hung from my bunk bed like question marks.
I was unsure of which shade my skin will grow into,
so I could not be the lead role in this fairy tale.
Now I know our ignorance is a kind of bacteria
bleach multiplies instead of killing.
One of my dorm mates used “Papaya Skin Lightening Soap”,
the scent was like every other soap,
she rubbed it on her skin until
she was cast as Snow White in the school play.
The myth is that despite all the light on her skin,
her soul remains a backstage curtain.