Titilope Sonuga is an award-winning poet, writer and performer based in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration, performing an inaugural poem, We Are Ready, at the May 2015 ceremony.
She was the winner of the 2011 Canadian Authors’ Association Emerging Writer Award for her first collection of poems, Down To Earth. Her second collection Abscess was published in 2014 by Geko Publishing (South Africa).
Her work has appeared in Brittle Paper, The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, was translated into Italian for El-Ghibli Magazine, and into German for the Berlin International Poetry Festival.
She read alongside Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Yusef Komunyakaa, Bassey Ikpi and Chinua Achebe at the first poetry showcase of the Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University.
She was shortlisted for the Africa Center Artist in Residency (AIR) program in 2015 and was an Open Society (OSIWA) Foundation Resident Poet on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal in the same year. Her work was published in the OSIWA anthology, Soaring Africa, along with twenty select poets from across the African continent.
She was a speaker at TedxEdmonton in 2014 and was the 2015 - 2016 ambassador for Intel Corporation’s She Will Connect Program in Nigeria.
She played "Eki" in the NdaniTV hit television series Gidi Up, which airs across Africa.
She is the recipient of the 2018 Edmonton Arts Council Large Project Grant to produce her next spoken word album “Swim”
Her collection of poetry This Is How We Disappear is forthcoming with Write Bloody North in the spring of 2019.
The story of Titilope Sonuga’s emergence as a renowned poet, actress, and ambassador is a testament to the power of the human voice and the transformative power of speech. Titilope is a Nigerian-Canadian artist whose humble beginnings in spoken word poetry have propelled her to a dynamic, multi-faceted and deeply meaningful life in the arts. She has shared a stage with legendary poets Sonia Sanchez, Jayne Cortez, Yusef Komunyakaa and others, at the first spoken word showcase of the Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University. Titilope was also the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration ceremony, performing at the May 2015 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is therefore no surprise that Titilope Sonuga is well known in Africa and around the world as a writer and speaker of evocative, deeply empathetic poetry. For lovers of her work, it is perhaps a delightful quirk of fate that her debut poetry collection, which won her the 2011 Canadian Authors’ Association Emerging Writer Award, is titled Down To Earth. To hear or read a poem of Titilope Sonuga’s is to understand that she is, perhaps in her very essence, a daughter of the Earth. She renders, both in verse and in performance, a quality of rootedness and unflinching womanhood that connects her every word to the very pulse of humanity. Whether she is writing of her personal journey, as she did to powerful effect in her 2014 collection, Abscess, or on topics ranging from the vibrancy of Lagos to the difficulty of healing from communal trauma, Titilope presents a world of sublime, latent beauty struggling to come to terms with itself. The idea of becoming, that is: the lofty notion that the whole globe, alongside the poet herself, is on a collective journey toward healing, redemption, and glory, is one that seems to propel her creative work toward the particular vulnerability, empathy and authenticity that it often possesses.
As a poet, Titilope Sonuga is special because she is a writer who blends a remarkable elegance of craft with an ever-present human quality that carries her words into the realm of feeling-- where the best and most beloved poems live.
Titilope Sonuga’s rare combination of authenticity, emotional intelligence and soft-heartedness naturally extends beyond the bounds of a single poem, or even poetic performance. This is why Titilope has, in recent years, seen the scope and impact of her work expand to include her role as the 2015-2016 ambassador for Intel’s She Will Connect Program in Nigeria. The program is dedicated to empowering women and girls toward greater technological literacy, commerce and opportunity. Titilope’s influence helps to amplify the power of their voices and perspectives within the local and global economy, enhancing their ability to shape the future of their communities in new and innovative ways.
Titilope has also garnered respect and acclaim as a burgeoning actress, using the same soulful and sincere disposition to embody the character of “Eki” on the hit NdaniTV series, Gidi Up.
The essence of Titilope Sonuga’s appeal, and the reason for her genre-defying international acclaim is not owed to mere talent or giftedness. She is a young artist whose commitment to expressing herself honestly, courageously, and gracefully, has brought her into contact with blessings and opportunities beyond her wildest imaginings. In her artistry as in her life, Titilope Sonuga seems to understand that it is only through the consistent practice of love, courage and compassion that we begin to transcend our limitations, our struggles and our wounds. Every public aspect of this young Nigerian’s life seems to be emblematic of the undeniable glory a woman inherits when she commits to becoming the most powerful, humble and righteous version of herself that she can possibly be. From afar, Titilope’s journey is most beautiful because it is explicitly an exercise in blossoming, one which she allows her supporters and audiences to bear witness to with startling, life-altering strength and candour.