Creator of The Black Verse.
Samuel Akinwumi is a final year Chemical Engineering student at the University of Bath and a freelance photographer. He is the founder of the poetry platform for black poets The Black Verse, which provides a platform for black poets’ voices to be heard.
What does diversity mean to you?
To me, diversity means that we are different and simultaneously we are equal. It is recognising that as human beings, we are all equal and we all bring something different to the table – whether that’s a different skill set, a different point of view, or a different way of thinking. Diversity means creating a world where all parties are considered equal on every platform.
What inspired you to start your current journey?
At the heart of poetry and spoken word is raw, honest, open passion. I think we can all agree that too often, black people have their passions policed. We are labelled as too aggressive or too angry. I wanted to provide a platform that would bring exposure to unexposed poets within the UK, a platform that would allow them to display their passion without being policed. I wanted to provide a space where poets could come and share their works and where lovers of poetry could come to consume it.
What is one thing you wish you knew five years ago?
That you can have everything you want just not all at the same time. It has taken me a while to realise that you can’t always be successful at everything you are focusing on all the time. Failing is part of the process, so you either win or you learn.
Which books changed your life?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.
All three books have changed my perception of life and how I approached my goals – particularly how I approach the people around me. How to Win Friends and Influence People helped me be more considerate of other opinions and taught me how to resolve conflict in the most appropriate way.We Should All Be Feminists made me aware of the unconscious bias I have towards women. It allowed me to explore why this bias is present and how to go about addressing it.
Not only this, but the traditional way I viewed why certain individuals were successful was completely flipped on its head by Malcolm Gladwell, who is my favourite author. He taught me that it take roughly 10,000 hours to master a skill so to put the work in and be consistent.
Where do you find your inspiration?
As cliche as it may sound, my inspiration comes from my two closest friends Peter Agorioge and Rodney Gold. They both are incredibly driven and are focused on what success looks like for them. While they are unconcerned with the views society has put on them as young black men in London, it is always refreshing talking to them about my hopes and dreams and throughout the years they have kept me honest to the goals I have set for myself.