Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is there Rehab for poets?

If you have been following the recent CNN feature on mental health in Kenya, like me you may have had the following reaction in this order. Shock, pity, resignation, amusement, pity, awe at the in-depth coverage, pity. It is very pitiful and outrageous that patients who feel like inmates who cannot afford the fees are made to stay in. This is a mental institution where patients(inmates are caged like the monkeys at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre but with less care and attention, and even when freedom is nigh, a few pennies short of the fee and their fate is capped with a merciless padlock until they pay up.
In response to the question, is there Rehab for poets? We are the Rehabilitation that the world needs. Haven’t you heard people saying that writing saved their life? And they say that without the slightest nudge of melodrama, unflinching like the German Minister who plagiarised his way in and out of PhD stardom. Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise is a poem whose very message creates a bed of music for the parched soul that needs to be redeemed from patriarchal, political pestilence in this world order called life which none of us can avoid. When she says, Still I Rise, she speaks of hope against all hopelessness; she speaks of the train of courage we have witnessed in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt. That train of courage along the railway tracks that gather hope, determination and steed.
This is what poetry and writing do to me. My poem below is called Jail Sentence.
Shackled to shame
Despair in the darkness
The Terror of Treason
A lifetime of Languish

A kaloli bird’s droppings
Embellish the wall
Blop Blop Blop
The music of prison.

Heavy Breathing. My breathing.
Patterns of my punishment
Embellish my mind
I inscribe a song of silence
I inscribe adjectives of agony.
My agony.
Wailing. Waiting. Winning.
Another day.
Another song.
Lines of Liberty
A jail of joy

By the way if the poem doesn’t make sense, please don’t incriminate yourself and tell me how beautiful it sounds and what imagery. I’m an artist not a fool. Love you too. In Ancient Egypt, the walls of the Prison Kingdoms are filled with writings in hieroglyphics because writing is what lifted them from their prison. Many Christians that have been arrested in countries worldwide often inscribed bible verses because they knew that those words would give hope to the next prisoner. Your creativity is the Rehab we all need. There are some young Arab artists now rapping new songs in response to their new found and strangely exciting yet dangerous freedom. It’s all we need.


  1. I . just. love. you. BEV!! and the first thing i saw: JESUS CARES. tu es la meilleure!
    and this is what touches me from the poem that "i do not HAVE to like" :

    Patterns of my punishment
    Embellish my mind

    and then:

    (...) Winning.
    Another day.-> that is hope right there!

    keep the rehab alive!

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