Dele Osunsami – a poet for the facebook generation

Dele Osunsami photograph Richard Ridout

Rhyme and reason: Dalston poet Dele Osunsami. Photograph: Richard Ridout

Revelling in the spring sunshine after weeks of torrential rain, I draped my leather jacket over the back of a comfortable wooden chair outside Dalston’s Red Art Café and sat back, waiting for Dele Osunsami.

Osunsami, 20, the author of two published poetry anthologies, is on the brink of completing a degree in sports therapy at London Metropolitan University and performs live spoken word most weekends. In a sign of the times, he has used social media to successfully launch his poetry career: “Social media and social networking,” he says, “are very important. They help me to promote my poetry.”

Osunsami grew up in Hackney and attended Homerton College of Technology which, he tells me, shut down and is now an academy.

The first poem he ever wrote, in primary school, won a competition but he then lost interest. It was whilst sitting one of his GCSE exams that he started writing again. “I was bored,” he remembers, “so I just took out a piece of paper, started writing, expressing my feelings.”

He published his poems on facebook and was soon ‘added’ by Tola Onigbanjo, a radio show host and businesswoman. She offered to sponsor him to write a book. And so he did. “And after that,” he says, “I used the money I made from the sales of the first book to write my second anthology.”

He has dabbled with performing his poetry over music in his latest piece ‘What’s in the Locker?’ but says that it “depends on the rhythm, depends what I’m talking about,” as to whether or not spoken word works better with or without music.

He takes inspiration from rapper Kendrick Lamar (“good word play, he is a good lyricist”) and also likes MJ Cole and Drake. His favourite poets are Suli Breaks from north London and George the Poet.

He is yet to write about Hackney but reckons he could find inspiration from the streets of his borough if he wanted to. He was around during the riots last summer and decided not to write specifically about them but did mention them in his poem ‘Longevity’, which can be found on his blog.

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