Inua Ellams latest book is called #Afterhours. It is not a traditional poetry collection. Instead the book contains diary entries, memoirs, poems from other writers and poems of course from Inua himself. It was written during 2015 when Inua Ellams was the Poet in Residence at the National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre in London. The writer looked to use his residency to create a unique book that charted his life, from birth up until the age of 18.

This evening’s event is introduced by Becky Fincham, who is the co-programmer of the Babble On strand of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This strand is now in its fifth year and has continued to bring the most exciting spoken word artists and performers to the festival.

The event begins by Inua letting the audience know that the reading will not be straight forward. He invites the crowd to shout out a page number and he will read a section of #Afterhours from that particular page. He begins by reading No Return by Iain Crichton Smith and a short diary entry to contextualise his choice for including it in the book. Inua follows by reading out his response, a poem entitled No Return 1984. The responsive poem is just as evocative and special as the original and underlines the unique talent and style of the poet. The themes of home and longing seem to be present in Inua’s work. He was born in Nigeria and spent time in Ireland before moving to London. He cites the Welsh word “Hiraeth” as being important to him. The word means a homesickness or nostalgia for a particular place.

This longing is made obvious in further readings, including; The King and Queen of Dumfriesshire by W.N Herbert, followed by Inua’s take – The King and Queen of Odogbolu. The Aftermath by Andrew Motion is given an update with the poem The Aftermath 2002. Inua has a love of words and clearly enjoys presenting his work this evening. He reads with passion and poise and his vibrant and animated personality comes through in the reading.

Inua is back in Edinburgh after presenting An Evening With an Immigrant at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. His most recent play Barbershop Chronicles is touring internationally, but is still to be presented in Scotland. Hopefully the play will make its way to Edinburgh soon and give Inua another excuse to return to the city to present his work.