A Celebration of Gboyega Odubanjo’s Adam

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On Wednesday, July 3, 2024, the folks at Stratford East Theatre celebrated the late poet, Gboyega Odubanjo in an intimate and immersive experience centred on the release of his debut collection, Adam, which was curated by his friends and family.

This original multimedia introduction to Adam included readings from the collection by actors and poets alongside a soundscape, and visuals created by Kareem Parkins-Brown.

‘On 21 September 2001, the torso of a black boy was discovered in the River Thames, near Tower Bridge in central London, clothed only in an orange pair of girls’ shorts. Given the name “Adam” by police officers, the unidentified boy was between four and eight years old. What comes next cannot without a story of water and offering. The sun shines and we gather because the river allows it. Na from clap dem dey enter dance. We enter with, and as, Adam.’

Gboyega Odubanjo

Haunted by the discovery of the remains of a young Black boy in the River Thames in London, 2001, Gboyega Odubanjo’s Adam builds from the Genesis myth and from Yoruba culture to examine with an unflinching eye the disappearance of a child and its implication for all Black lives, and for the society in which we live.

Gboyega Odubanjo (1996–2023), of Nigerian descent, was born and raised in East London. He was the author of three poetry pamphlets: While I Yet Live (Bad Betty Press), Two stops short of Barking (The Alternative School of Economics) and Aunty Uncle Poems (The Poetry Business/New Poets List), winner of the Michael Marks Poetry Award and an Eric Gregory Award. A Barbican Young Poet alumnus, Odubanjo was an editor at bath magg journal and Bad Betty Press, co-chair of Magma and a member of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, after which he later became a Roundhouse Resident Artist. He was a creative-writing tutor on the Creative Future IMPART programme, supporting writers from underrepresented backgrounds. His UK garage single ‘LDN GRLS’ with Love Remain is out with the Sony Music UK label Black Butter Records.

The Gboyega Odubanjo Foundation for low-income Black writers was established in 2023 to honour his legacy. 

Words of praise for Adam and Gboyega:

‘It is our hope that Gboyega’s spirit of mentorship, creativity and exploration will live on, inspiring future generations to pursue their passions with courage and authenticity.’

‘Here is a heavy, mystical, humorous and lyrical Black British voice that will live forever.’

Adam is a watery chorus, spirited and kinetic. These poems crackle with love and risk . . . Odubanjo was a singular voice in British poetry, one which will endure.’

‘With Adam, it feels like Gboyega Odubanjo excavates traditions to create a new world with a language and texture completely of its own.’

Adam is an anticipated debut, from a poet rooted in community. A poet whose name and charm will continue to live in our hearts and minds for generations.’

His debut collection, Adam, is published by Faber.

Visit www.stratfordeast.com to read more on the talented writer and the debut of Adam.

Bongiwe T. Maphosa

Bongiwe T. Maphosa

Bongiwe Maphosa is a budding author with a passion for storytelling. With her thought-provoking narratives, she takes her readers on a literary adventure. Bongiwe's works on the human condition from a fresh perspective have earned her recognition and publications in the Avbob Poetry Anthology of 2019, The Writer's Club of South Africa 2021, and JAY Lit in 2021. She hopes to cement her place in the literary community.