The family of the award-winning poet Gboyega Odubanjo have raised more than £36,000 to help launch a foundation in his memory. Odubanjo went missing at a music festival last week, and officers investigating his disappearance found a body on Thursday.
A rising talent on the UK poetry scene, Odubanjo, 27, was last seen around 4am last Saturday in the Kelmarsh area of Northamptonshire, where he was due to perform at the Shambala festival.Officers searching the area found a body on Thursday. Northamptonshire police described the case as “complex”, with many lines of inquiry being considered. In a statement, police said formal identification had not taken place but Odubanjo’s family had been informed and were being supported by specially trained officers. The police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.
Odubanjo’s family have launched a fundraiser to set up the Gboyega Odubanjo Foundation, which will continue his legacy by supporting low-income black writers.The fundraising page, set up by Rose Odubanjo, said: “We, the close friends and loved ones of Gboyega, express our profound sadness and grief at the loss of one of our brightest and most talented stars. “Gboyega was the source of incredible joy and laughter for all of us, and we are utterly heartbroken to hear that his life has been so suddenly cut short.”
Odubanjo’s work includes a pamphlet, Aunty Uncle Poems, which won the Poetry Business New Poets prize in 2020. He also received an Eric Gregory award from the Society of Authors, a Michael Marks award for poetry pamphlets, and in 2021 his poem, Oil Music, featured as a Guardian poem of the month. He had been studying for his PhD at the University of Hertfordshire and his upcoming collection, Adam, explores structural inequality around seaching for missing black people in the UK. The collection is inspired by the unsolved murder of “Adam”, an unidentified boy whose body was found in the River Thames in 2001.The fundraising page said: “Gboyega always wanted to uplift and support his community, through mentoring young people, through gently praising someone at a poetry night about their star quality and through teaching in numerous places. His poetry and writing has been a beacon of light to many.
“He will be remembered as a brilliant poet, inspiring friend, son and brother. He was incredibly talented; someone we will remain in awe of.”