Thursday, January 20, 2011
Poets I love you, but...
I am mortified. I attended the weekly readers-writers club of FEMRITE and I am still reeling with mortification. A young gentleman hands in a poem with the first verse copied word for word from a hip hop song and wants us to glorify his writing. Another lad hands in a poem which is not bad just rather confusing. The problem is not the pieces themselves because we all learn from sharing, it is the attitude of these lads. Why do you submit pieces if you cannot listen to unanimous and honest feedback from the people who have taken time to read your work? Why do you sit and defend a piece of writing and yet it is obvious from the fifteen voices around you that there is need for improvement. It is the attitude that appalls me and while the club is and will always be a brilliant idea, I hold my reservation. The readers-club reminds me how and why I started the BN Poetry Award for women. I find women much easier to communicate with in the world of arts. They are more responsive and teachable in my opinion. When I held a poetry training workshop last year in October and gave feedback to the participants of the award, it was easy to engage with the poets, not so for most men; and so I will not include men in this competition to answer many of your questions. However, men are always welcome in the workshops and other poetry events because I have met some very talented poets.
I have come to realize that poetry is a tough world to live in. Some foreigners to this exotic world think that it is about muse, inspiration and rhyme. Others think that it is about love, sweetness and mushy feelings and still others are convinced that it is about lyrics. The true dwellers, whose faces and minds have been hardened and sharpened from the wisdom that is poetry; know that it is Robert Frost’s Road Less Travelled. They know that it is the beard that shapes Jajja’s face after 5 decades of marriage. The true citizens of poetry land understand the rings around the trunk of the great oak that have weathered the years. Poetry is hard work. It is like selling a ten- year business plan. It is like convincing your child to take vegetables and cod liver oil. The muse and inspiration and feelings are fine. Then there is the research, the editing, the reading and re-reading, the memorizing and placing the words on the page with the right shape. Does the poem sound like a poem? What does it look like? How do I feel after reading it? How do others feel? I will think of all this before I call myself a poet again.
Posted by Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva at 3:24 PM