Like many individuals and organisations, Spread the Word is devastated at the passing of our friend Gboyega Odubanjo, an inimitable poet, editor and friend.
Gboyega had worked with us on a number of projects, including our collaboration with South London Gallery Convergence, participation workshops with the National Gallery, Runaways London and as the editor of the exceptional Ink, Sweat and Tears anthology Uprising and Resistance.
To each project he worked on Gboyega brought an understanding of the power of language and a desire to share it. He knew poetry could inspire schoolchildren, challenge institutions and celebrate the everyday. His talent meant that he could use words in ways few others could and Gboyega was a standout writer of his generation. The poems he produced for the Runaways project twisted the words of enslavers into weapons to be used against them and just as deftly created quiet spaces to resonate with the voices of the silenced. This aptitude was a gift he shared generously; patiently and painstakingly working with other writers as a mentor and editor to help them develop their work. Gboyega carried this selflessness with him, as well as a warmth and infectious humour, into every space he entered. We therefore mourn the loss of both a talented poet, and a loved friend and colleague. We will miss him terribly. We’ll continue to celebrate him and his poetry wherever we can and honour his memory.
If you would like to join us in remembering and celebrating his visionary work, we would like to encourage you to read his work in the Runaways London anthology and appreciate his dedicated and clear editorial vision in the Uprising and Resistance anthology. He read from his poem ‘Classified’ and talked about the approach he took to his creating his poems in Runaways London in this video here.
We encourage those who are able to make a contribution to the fundraiser setup in his name by his family to contribute to final costs and to create a foundation in his memory to support low income Black writers.
Image of Gboyega taken by Gretel Ensignia at Runaways London event at Museum of London Docklands on 21 October 2021.
Published 8 September 2023