Tolu Oloruntoba has lived in Nigeria, the U.S., and Canada, and once spent 12 years studying and practicing medicine. His poetry has appeared in Pleiades, Columbia Journal Online, Obsidian, SAND Journal, Entropy, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His debut chapbook, Manubrium, is forthcoming from Anstruther Press in 2019, and a full length collection of his poetry will be published by Palimpsest Press in 2021.
How do you know when a poem is finished?
There is a sense of repose that comes over me when an unexpected ending suggests itself, and I am able to capture it. And if when I look over the poem, I am overtaken by a sense of wonder, can’t help re-reading it repeatedly (I wrote that?), and can’t, however hard I try, find anything to change, or add, I sense that the work is done. For some other poems, particularly if they deal with past trauma, when I’m done, I just feel the overwhelming urge to go lie down after. Think of Frodo’s “It’s Done,” at the Cracks of Doom (before I unearth the same issue in a different poem).