Keeps: Could you give a little intro about yourself?
Sage: My name is Sage Hasson. I am a poet and a show organizer. I live in Lagos. I’m from Niger state , I was born in Kaduna, I'm a spoken word poet, I am recognized as the pioneer of spoken word poetry in Nigeria and I have two albums, I'm working on the third one which is actually a remake of the second, I used to be a journalist.
Keeps: I was moved the first time I saw you on TV because of the way you played with words, how did you come up with this concept?
Sage: Poetry chose me, when I was young I’ve always been the guy who will tell people stories, when I was in form three I couldn’t tell the stories any more, I started to write the stories down in books, I started to read, you know I used to write poems, stories, this is just who I have being all my life. I’m over thirty five I have never done anything else besides writing and speaking. This is my life, this is what I was born to do, this is what I’m doing you know, nothing else for me.
Keeps: Can you give the names of your albums?
Sage : The first album is titled The Poet, when I came out in the public lime light, people didn’t know my name, the people would say oh that’s the poet, the people had named that first album for me. The second album I titled it Tinkle Tinkle Super Star. The third one is titled The Song Speaks album because I will be experimenting on a new form of poetry. I’m trying to do something that will be more commercial, more acceptable to the general public, really we need to have something commercial otherwise people won’t buy it.
Keeps: I hardly see your records in the market.
Sage: My last album, T.Joe took it to sell it but I don’t know what happened to T.Joe, he took my album and my album is stock piled in his shop, the only place my album is seen is South Africa where I took them myself because when we printed the CDs I was going to do a show in South Africa so I collected the albums and took them to South Africa they are been sold in some shops, they are not too many but they are been sold in some shops and in certain poetry circle but T. Joe has not been able to push my CDs, apparently the complexity of this kind of art form is beyond his grasp so I’m trying to do something that will be more marketable. And the next album I’ll do, I will try to market it myself as well as the marketers from Alaba so that would be like a two point attack so that is what I’m looking forward to right now.
Keeps: I noticed you usually do stuff with Mode 9; there is this joint you talked about pretty eyes and a couple of others.
Sage: oh, you heard Miss Pretty Eyes?
Sage: Mode 9 and I are friends, we’ve been friends for over twelve years, we kinda grew up together in this art form and we support each other by the grace of God, and not just Mode 9, MI and I, MI and Jesse, I mean, they produced my album, long before they moved to Lagos. I’ve been in the industry let’s say like ‘89, I was a music journalist. I used to be a reporter for newspaper, I used to work for Nigerian Standard and I worked for Ovation Magazine, I was one of the very early staff of Ovation Magazine until I stopped in 2005 to start doing spoken word poetry.
Keeps: And I guess you read a lot?
Sage: At one time in my life I used to read a lot, but I must confess right now my time is spent on the net really, everything I read now, I read it from the net. I don’t read books like I used to but when I was in my teen age and in my twenties I used to strive to read like a hundred books every year, it was my goal, I never reached the hundred, I never even reached ninety, maybe eighty four, eighty five but my goal was to read a hundred book but I think I tried, I read seventy, eighty books every year.
Keeps: If you have to recommend some few books for Nigerians, what books would they be?
Sage: Hah! (Laughs) that’s serious, I would say The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, to me it’s a massive classic. Then there is a book I read called As A Man Thinketh, you know very little book, another one I read is called The Master Plan, these are certain books I read at a point in my life that really made massive impact. There is another one called The Fourth Dimension, these are books that will make you transform your life, there are other books like Road Less Travelled, these are the kind of books that I read, books that will make you become better, books that will make you deeper, they are not necessarily religious even though they sometimes are, they are more psychological or metaphysical not occult.
Keeps: But have you ever thought about writing one yourself?
Sage: I’m working on a little book called Wonder Lost, it’s an allegory, I’m gonna be talking about real life event in a fictional manner.
Keeps: How was the response of people to your videos?
Sage: I know my hardcore poetry fans would be saying common Sage, why are you doing this? But I needed to get more people so I tried to do something with the track called Dance, I tried to include girls dancing in it, the reception hasn’t been bad but it hasn’t been exceptional, so I’m looking for a middle ground, I have to do a video that is hot, a video that is poetry and commercial at the same time, If you have noticed the stuff that I did for Hip TV?
Keeps: Yeah, that is beautiful.
Sage: I want to do more stuff that can be played on general television and still maintain the integrity of my poetry.
Keeps: How will you describe Nigerian market?
Sage: I think we have a dynamic market, I lived in Ghana, I visited South Africa. In Nigeria, we have the people who are ready to accept whatever thing you are bringing as long as it is good, so I respect the market, I respect the buyer. If you’ve noticed the way ours started not too long ago but now we have the largest music buying market in Africa and that is powerful and I am blessed to be part of it and I am looking forward to poetry becoming a major selling art form in this country, especially my poetry.
Keeps: What will be your message to your fans out there?
Sage: support poetry, it is really important because poetry is culture, poetry is the mother art, you know all the other arts came out of poetry. Poetry is divine, support poetry.
Keeps: How do you spend your 24hours on a regular day?
Sage: When I wake up I do my religion, which is reciting poetry, I will recite my poetry for an hour or two, then I like to eat bread, I run a music company so I am working with artistes, I either go to one studio, talk to one producer and help the artiste write a song and in the evening go to one small poetry event or just go to one music event or just go to one little lounge and hang out till night then go back home and sleep.
Keeps: How do you do all these things together, you talked about Ghana, you talked about South Africa, you talked about Lagos?
Sage: The point is, you have to move, you can’t stay in one place, just go, push, you see I’m the only one doing this poetry so far and it’s really hard so I’m trying to push it as hard as I can, so I’m going here, I’m going there, in fact I’m looking for how I’m gonna tour Africa if I can get it, I have contacts in Ethiopia, Kenya I’m working in such a way I can promote this art form, so you can’t stay in one place.