April 18, 2023
96 Pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-65-7
Gills is the debut collection of Ayomide Bayowa, the current Poet Laureate of Mississauga and a rising star in Canadian poetry. Born in Lagos, Bayowa found his path to poetry at the University of Ibadan, Oyo. He brings a diasporic sensibility to his writing, which is an intricate meshing of narrative voices, dramatic tellings and hip hop rhythms. These poems interrogate belonging, race, identity and the diasporic struggle with the socio-economic system of debt. They are written for the millions of immigrants trying to keep their head up, trying to uphold skin and breath and bones. They are poems written to enable people to survive, even under water.
"Ayomide Bayowa’s Gills is a formidable work which merged the African and American linguistic finesse into brilliant English verses. The author writes with such candor and melodic streak that could compel readers to find solace in the warmth of his words. Iṣẹ l’oṣe – a work well done!" – Soji Cole, Winner of the 2014 Association of Nigerian Authors Prize and the 2018 Nigeria Prize for Literature (Drama)
“To say that Gills is a stunning lyrical offering would not be enough to capture its quiet majesty. These are textured poems that explore the range of a life between places and worlds – even in the oppressive halls of weighty silence. To curious readers: dive in and let these poems (and yourself) breathe between each page. Ayomide Bayowa is a piercing and prophetic bard.” – Adrian De Leon, author of barangay: an offshore poem and co-host of PBS’s A People’s History of Asian America
Celebrate Pride with Lockheed Martin by Jake Byrne and Gills by Ayomide Bayowa (Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 20/07/2023)
"Bayowa spins us to wakefulness inside the countries of his blood and we are left, essentially, whirling."
“The Craft Of Poetry Writing Is Rooted In The Pursuit Of One’s Voice”: A CỌ́N-SCÌÒ Magazine ‘Migration’ Issue Interview with Ayomide Bayowa (CỌ́N-SCÌÒ Magazine, 14/01/2024)
"Being an African in the diaspora can be both therapeutic and distressing."
16 Reasons Poetry Is Essential For Black Canadians (Nadia L. Hohn, ByBlacks.com, 18/04/2023)
A wonderful discussion of poetry from ByBlacks.com with some great insights, including thoughts from Ayomide Bayowa.
"My Poetry isn’t Mine to Define to You, My Friend" Ayomide Bayowa on His Masterful Debut Collection, Gills (Open Book, 17/04/2023)
A wonderful interview with Ayomide Bayowa.
April is #NationalPoetryMonth! (CIBA, 12/04/2023)
It's wonderful to see Ayomide Bayowa's Gills in this round up from the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association!
46 Canadian poetry collections to watch for in spring 2023 (CBC Books, 03/03/2023)
It's great to see Ayomide on this list from CBC.
Poetry Corner (The Medium, 06/02/2023)
Ayomide shares his poem "Gills" with The Medium.
Ayomide Bayowa – On His Book Gills and the Importance of Black History (Julia Skoczypiec, The Medium, 30/01/2023)
"While poets often write about identity, Bayowa’s words steer away from concepts of the self. His writing speaks for the hearts and the lives of those that have shaped him and those that continue to suffer."
About the Author
Ayomide Bayowa is an award-winning Nigerian Canadian poet, actor and filmmaker. He holds a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing from the University of Toronto and is the (2021–24) poet laureate of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. He is a top-ten gold entrant of the 9th Open Eurasian Literary Festival and Book Forum, UK, and was long-listed for both the UnSerious Collective Fellowship and 2021 Adroit Journal Poetry Prize. He won first place in the 2020 July Open Drawer Poetry Contest, the June/July 2021 edition of the bimonthly Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest and second place in the 2021 K. Valerie Connor Poetry Contest’s Student Category. He has appeared in a long list of literary magazines, including Windsor Review, Agbowó, Ampersand Review, and more. He is the editor-in-chief of Echelon Poetry and currently reads poetry for Adroit Journal.