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An interview with poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley

Buy Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me
Victoria Adukwei Bulley met Eloise Greenfield at Edinburgh

 

Eloise Greenfield, poet and author of Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me, had some fantastic events at the Edinburgh Book Festival! One of them was with the brilliant young poet Victoria Adukwei Bulley. This was a truly inspiring meeting between two generations of black woman poets. It’s no wonder their event was completely sold out! We reached out to Victoria to find out more about what happened. She replied with some fascinating insights into her meeting with Eloise. Read the interview below!

I know you’re a fan of Eloise Greenfield. How did you feel meeting her at Edinburgh Book Festival?

It was an honour to sit and speak with Eloise – like many women of her age she’s a font of wisdom and knowledge, but for me she was all the more fascinating because she is a writer. I have never met any writer of her age – let alone a Black woman writer and poet who has lived through so much. It was a gift to be in her presence and to witness how much life she brings to her work.

Tell me more about your experience at the festival!

As my first time at the festival I found it quite surreal. It’s always strange meeting writers in person – unlike actors or TV personalities it’s harder to imagine what they might be like in real life. So that was cool. I’d like to be back again.

It’s so important that we learn from the previous generation of writers. Do you think you learnt anything from your time with Eloise?

I learned that it’s so important to protect your craft, to make a space around it that insulates it from anything that might deteriorate the quality of the dedication that you can offer it. That you must make it a part of your life, and that calling oneself a writer is part of the signposting that can allow you to do that.

What was the best piece of advice she gave for younger poets?

She offered a lot of advice, but I think the general message was to be committed and to cultivate your love for it.

 
Victoria interviewing Eloise at Edinburgh International Book festival

 

What do you think makes Eloise’s work so special?

For me, it’s Eloise’s love for her community and the everyday life of those around her that really radiates through her work.

As well as the event about Eloise’s work, you did a talk with her about the Civil Rights Movement. What conclusions did you draw from your discussion?

The conclusions I drew from her were as expected – that the struggle hasn’t ended, it has only taken on different and more complex forms. It’s sobering to know that someone like Eloise can live through such challenging times and simultaneously see a lot of change and also a lack of change.
Victoria Adukwei Bulley

At Tiny Owl we love poetry in translation. I personally really admired your project MOTHER TONGUES.What other exciting projects are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m finishing up a residency at the V&A Museum, where I’ve been looking into histories of slave-ownership in their collections and responding through portraiture, film and poetry. After this, my intention is to continue MOTHER TONGUES, covering more languages that sit outside of the more common realms of translation, and I’m also getting into writing my first full length poetry collection.

  • Read Eloise’s blog about her time at Edinburgh Book Festival!
  • Make your own collage Thinker with Ehsan Abdollahi
  • The Scotsman named Thinker as a top children’s book!

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