Nigerian Literary events, while an important part of the publishing and writerly industry, hasn’t really succeeded in convincing the vast majority of the undecided to actively support books and writers. This is because these events are usually organized by organizations who by their very nature, inspire a sense of conservatism, the idea that the writer is a deity and their audience, except for a narrow time slot where they are allowed to ask moderated questions, are a captive, silent audience.
Bring Your Own Lit, is a literary event that tries to remove everything we’ve come to associate with Book and Literary events in Nigeria. Inspired by the Charlie Jane Anders ‘Writers With Drinks’ event, Bring Your Own Lit recognizes that the casual conversations post literary events, usually encouraged by a fair helping of beverages and alcohol are when the writers and their guests really connect, and often are the most memorable part of these events, and we want to replicate this often ignored aspect of literary events at ours.
For B.Y.O.Lit’s debut, we are collaborating with the TreeHouse, an interactive exhibition space curated by the fantastic visual artist Wura Ogunji. Our event together is called “There be Monsters, There Be Pride”, a play on the children’s rhyme. This theme explores the idea of monsters in literature, and how often these literal and metaphorical demons are avatars for our personal anxieties and our fears about the other. It also explores how our understanding of monsters and what roles they play in a culture change as the culture moves towards tolerance and enlightenment.
“There Be Monsters, There Be Pride” hosts Damilare Falowo and Ope Adedeji, two young writers working out of Lagos and challenging conventions around gender, sexuality, memory and horror in their fiction and non-fiction. Damilare is best known for his work ‘We are Born’ and ‘Ku’gbo’, both published in the Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, and Ope Adedeji is known for ‘Home’, shortlisted by Medium and ‘Women Who Bleed Colours’, shortlisted for the Nana Koffi-Addo prize for non-fiction and published by Enkare review.
Bring Your Own Lit, also recognises that often young writers are seen and not heard, until they get their big break. It is only then they are thrust into the spotlight, with no idea how to handle a crowd, sell themselves to an audience or convert one. B.Y.O.Lit deliberately fosters a casual atmosphere that prioritizes the emerging writer, so it serves as a training ground, getting writers comfortable with the idea of discussing their work with a vocal, responsive audience.
In collaboration with Wura Ogunji and the TreeHouse, B.Y.O.Lit is curating an interactive, audio visual experience to accompany the literary discussions and readings. Our guests are encouraged to have a drink or two at any point during the discussions, contribute as they are inspired and interact directly with our guest writers and the TreeHouse itself.