Irenosen Okojie, Nigerian-born author of the Betty Trask award-winning novel Butterfly Fish and short story collection Speak Gigantular, opened the 2020 National Creative Writing Industry Conference last night with a powerful message to aspiring authors everywhere, ‘Your ideas matter, every single one.’
Okojie’s keynote speech, ‘Transmissions From the Disruptive Space’, wove together her own experiences of storytelling with the powerful message for aspiring authors to listen to their stories, and find urgency in the process of creation. From absorbing the oral folklore of Benin, Nigeria, to finding inspiration in her ‘literary ancestors’, June Jordan and Octavia Butler, Okojie’s message was personal, yet also spoke to the experience of all writers everywhere. Her speech was driven, mesmerizing, and provocative, and no less powerful in its performance being promoted over Zoom rather than in front of a live audience.
‘We must write to explore our better selves, our base selves, our hidden selves’ – Okojie
During Okjie’s following talk, she was charismatic, charming, and informative when offering personal pieces of advice and experience, and answering questions put forth by viewers. She touched on her own background and how it shaped her storytelling, advice for aspiring authors, from “read first novels” to “finding your tribe”, and stressed the importance of promoting curiosity as inspiration in writing.
The 2020 National Creative Writing Industry Conference is hosted jointly by Comma Press and The Manchester Writing School and will continue to offer free daily panel discussions from 11:00 – 12:00 am daily. You can find information on events offered and how to join here. All events will be recorded and saved on the Comma Press Youtube channel.
Okojie’s keynote speech is available to watch on Youtube for anyone who missed the live event.
Ryann has recently moved to Manchester from Japan, where she lived for five years teaching English literature and working as a travel writer for Voyapon Magazine. She is currently studying her MA in creative writing and is excited to work with aAh! Magazine as a creative editor.