Generation Gap | Oluwaseun Olayiwola | Granta

Generation Gap

Oluwaseun Olayiwola

October 2022

Listening to three white poets, whom I suspect are academics, talk about the state of poetry, their writing processes, page versus spoken-word, American vs British poetics, and by extension, American vs British politics, in the Foyles on Charing Cross Road, with big smiles that are drawn on, drawn out, in what seems quite a discursive conversation, yet I get the sense none of them has actually written a poem they are proud of in a long time, the jade of their speech acts suggests this, and then is confirmed when one says, I haven’t written anything in a long time, and it’s hard imagining they have students, students they clearly barely respect, and they must be like mid-thirties to mid-forties, sitting in a cafe at 1.37 p.m. on a Tuesday, mid-October, perhaps half-term, perhaps between classes, and these kids – they just don’t have inner lives, one guys says, another says, but they do, its TikTok, they want Rupi, not Rilke,  and I want to be empathetic, because maybe they’re just lecturers, just gossiping to survive long, underpaid hours of labor, as teachers, as poets, whose writing must be untamed, not aporetic nor apophatic, not aphoristic nor academic, and one guy says, as revelation, to the only woman in the group: I appreciate you because of your, like, expansiveness – not like me, I like get straight to the bone


September 2023

I assume, accept, am appointed to an academic post.


October 2023

I am terrified of aging.


Image © Annie Spratt

Oluwaseun Olayiwola

Oluwaseun Olayiwola is a poet, critic and choreographer living in London. His poems have been published in the Guardian, the Poetry ReviewOxford Poetryfourteen poems and elsewhere. A Ledbury Poetry Critic, his criticism has been published in the Telegraph, the TLS, the Poetry School and Magma. His debut collection Strange Beach is forthcoming from Granta Books.

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