Processing Poetry: David Interviews D.M. Aderibigbe


David Siew Hii, Shenandoah’s associate poetry editor, interviews poets! To showcase their voices, the questions in the interview were removed, leaving behind only the voice of the writer. In this interview, D.M. Aderibigbe talks about his favorite parts of poetry, from form to creation process. Read his poem “Duplex (An Elegy Is)” here.


I’m naturally drawn to narrative poems. You know, poems with a beginning, middle, and end. But lately, I’ve been thinking about writing different kinds of poems—poems that are driven primarily by language.


Some forms are really good for that. Like the duplex form invented by Jericho Brown. It is very exciting—a sonnet that is also a blues poem, that is also a ghazal, as Brown described it. A poem where each line is echoed by a subsequent line and changes that line in an unexpected way. That is how my poem in this issue came about.


Maybe only one line survived from the earliest draft of the poem. This is the fourth version, or so you will be publishing.


My favorite part of being a poet? The process. Writing a poem that you think is successful, and the joy you get from that writing process and just seeing the poem finished. It is something I enjoy. That is my favorite part of being a poet.


Poetry gives me the ability to express myself in a way that I don’t think I can do in any other medium. Poetry is the window through which I observe the world.


For further reading, DM recommends:


The Last of the Sweet Bananas by Jack Mapanje

Camp Notes and Other Poems by Mitsuye Yamada

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Dhaka Dust by Dilruba Ahmed

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey

So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba

D.M. Aderibigbe is from Lagos, Nigeria. His debut book of poems, How the End First Showed (University of Wisconsin Press, 2018), won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, among other honors. His poems appear in The Nation, Ploughshares, and New England Review, among others. He’s currently an assistant professor in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.