Eseohe Arhebamen is a poet and provocateur. Her work – whether in verse, images, dance, or vocalization – is immediate, passionate, and deeply personal. A native of Nigeria and a princess of the Edo people, Eseohe is now based in Brooklyn, where she lives with her husband. Her latest chapbook, The Jesus of All Niggers, collects thirty of her poems from 1998 to 2009, including two image poems.
Eseohe has won various awards for her writing including the University of Michigan Hopwood Award for Poetry, the Jeffrey Weisberg Memorial Prize for Poetry, a Lawrence Tech Poetry Award, the Arthur Miller Award for Fiction, an InsideOut Literary/Arts Project Writing Residency, an Environmental Justice Initiative First Place Award and the College Unions Poetry Slam National Champion First Place Prize.
Eseohe paints, sings, and has taught poetry, dance and visual arts for several years in both Detroit and New York. Recently, Eseohe’s passion for poetics has led to the channeling of language through movement, incorporating Japanese Butoh dance and African theater. We’re delighted that she took time out to answer 12 Questions.
1. What is your hometown?
I was born in Zaria, raised in Lagos, Ibadan and Detroit. My people are from Benin City, Nigeria.
2. With what fictional character do you most identify?
Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights crossed with Simon from Keri Hulme’s The Bone People.
3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.
The Magician card from the Tarot deck or “Li, The Clinging Fire” from The I Ching.
4. What work of art speaks to your soul?
Right now, it’s La Dama by Bernardi Roig.
5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?
I recommend Indaba My Children, all 5 of Reinaldo Arenas’ Pentagonia, Toni Morrisson’s Beloved, anything Neruda or Leopold Sédar Senghor and Ben Okri’s The Famished Road. I’m currently reading poetry books Way of All the Earth by Anna Akhmatova and Shall We Gather At The River by James Wright.
6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?
I regularly blast my un-released EP called Get As E Be (EP) on my iPod. I love lots of other things on vinyl.
7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?
The Road Home, directed by Yimou Zhang.
8. Cat person or dog person?
Both but became allergic to cats later in life.
9. What is more important, truth or kindness?
10. How do you define sin?
I generally don’t. Yet I think sin is tied to selfishness and cruelty.
11. How do you define virtue?
As characteristics that are usually difficult to attain.
12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?
My headstone would be an ebony tree. That’s all I can see for now.
Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?
One of my mentors, the poet, Ken Mikolowski.