A peep into photos and poetry of Kole Odutola
Kole Odutola was born in Lagos, Nigeria, but now is a citizen of the world. From a career that evolved almost accidentally with a borrowed camera, Kole Odutola transformed himself from a graduate of Botany into a street photographer when his snapshots of everyday life led him to the curious power of the image. He continued to photograph until his work caught the eye of a magazine publisher who hired him to shoot pictures of Lagos for daily publication. Odutola despaired at first, suddenly on assignment to wander the mundane and familiar, and capture moments that tell stories without the need of texts. However, the challenge quickly ignited his natural curiosity, and he became a master of street photography, capturing the extraordinary within the seemingly ordinary. Intrigued by his editor’s random selections and captions, Odutola discovered the mysterious collaboration between his expressive photos, the human interpretation, imagination, and written word.
The written word would not remain the privilege of a single editor. Odutola is also a poet. He had stories to tell and lessons to teach, but not with captions. After his stint with a few publications in Lagos, Nigeria, he chose to allow his photos to be subjected to a viewer’s eye without remark, inviting personal interpretation from wide and wildly diverse worldviews.
But away from snapshots that catch rapid images, the poet demands slower, more disciplined introspection. He relentlessly creates poetry and song that reveal the complexity of the human experience—sometimes raw and personal, sometimes detached and observational, but always unapologetic.
Street photography and poetry are lifelong passions that run beside his ascent professionally in the halls of scholars. As he travels the globe with his academic work, he always has a camera in his hand and a laptop in his bag. Through his photos and writing, he is both teacher and student, tour guide and tourist, participant and witness, warrior and peacemaker. Generously, Kole Odutola shares his work with those who will quickly glance at a photo and make up their own minds, or slow down to read the inner man.
We invite you to enjoy both. The photos here are primarily from here, there and everywhere. A number of places on the African continent and the Caribbean Island of Trinidad & Tobago top the list . The poems are from Odutola’s imagination of what is and what ought to be.
I, a sober member of the margins of literature, speak
far from the city of haters where written words
are swords to the heart.
—Excerpt from poem by Kole Odutola, “One Without Title”