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WHEN WE WERE LIKE LITTLE LIGHTS (poem by Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize Judge Prospero O. Anuforo)

When We Were Like Little Lights by Prospero O. Anuforo

When We Were Like Little Lights by Prospero O. Anuforo

Where has that light gone, my child?
I remember, child. I remember.

I remember,
when you took your first faltering steps,
you walked from your Dad. We clapped each step:
One, two, three. You giggled, coming to me.

And I caught you just before you lurched and fell.

I remember,
your eyes had so much light – so much.
I loved looking into them. The world was in them.
They were mild as the moon, sweet as the stars.

Those eyes, our own little light when darkness fell.

Then, I could see
that the light in your eyes, which shone
so bright, was from the dreams in your heart.
Anyone who saw it seemed to hear it:

it was clear and sharp like the peal of a bell.

But now I see
that that heart now knows so much fears;
that all those dreams now grapple with life’s gloom;
that light, quenched by nights of warm tears

taking flight like water over stones hot as hell.

Where has that light gone, my child?
I remember, child. I remember…

Prospero O. Anuforo is A philosopher, literary enthusiast/critic with appreciable presence on scores of online literary forums, he divides his time between teaching and writing – poetry, short stories, essays. He’s also working on a novel. His current interests are in The Language of Thought Hypothesis (LOTH) and the correlation between Creativity, Psychiatry and Reality.

It’s been quite tasking, judging the maiden edition of the Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize. And rewarding, too.

Frankly, reading most of the entries did unseat me from the imaginary “high throne” of a judge to the low wooden desk of a learner.

Hence, the preference for some poems over others was not so much about their being better as it was their powers to educate this new learner.

I really do not know what to say to you, young poets. Maybe because I learnt to write poetry from reading poetry; and learnt to read poetry in a rather strange way – the ghost of Uncle Johnny, a poet who died before he wrote any poems, taught me.

I chalk my interest in literature to having grown up in what you might consider a literary family. My father, who studied philosophy and theology in a Catholic seminary under the Irish Missionaries, made it a pastime to taunt us with lines from classics like Homer’s “Iliad” and John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”.

However, the first books of poetry I read as a little kid were Uncle Johnny’s (my maternal uncle’s). He studied at the Gregorian University and taught literature at a government secondary school briefly before his demise. Among many of his poetry books I read, I still remember “Twentieth-century Narrative Poems” compiled by Maurice Wollman; “Faber Book of Modern Verse” (1965 edition) compiled and edited by Harold Hall; and “Selected Poems of Keats” compiled by Robert Gittings.
These collections introduced me to a world of words – works like: Walter De La Mare’s “Goliath”; D. H. Lawrence’s “Snake”; Wilfred Wilson Gibson’s “The Stone”; John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” and hordes of others.

Child as I was, they drew me in; partly because Uncle Johnny, a critic himself, took time to annotate almost all the works in the collections that I didn’t find it too difficult grasping them; that’s why I consider him a poet, though he wrote no poems.

But for the most part, these things appeal to me more:
• Aesthetics – Even beetles are drawn first by the beauty of flowers, before they perch and crawl deep into their vaginal receptacles to find there sweet nectar. I love it when stanzas are well-arranged and brief, too.
• Musicality – Poetry is like a “one-man” orchestra. It’s a song unsung. Listen to this:
“In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree…” (From D.H. Lawrence’s Snake).
Here, do everything you can to tickle the readers’ ears: rhyme, rhythm and all other thingummies.
• Story – “You have to have stories to make a poem work,” Brenden Galvin, the Award-winning American poet, told the audience at a Boston College Arts Festival at which he was guest author. Why should I read your poem if it’s not saying anything? This helps you work out technical issues like voice, theme, message….I prize this over every other thing in poetry.

AMS, a nice acronym, not so? But, to paraphrase George Orwell’s last admonition in his critical essay, Politics and the English Language: Break any of these rules sooner than write anything outright meaningless.

Author: admin

I am a member of the WRR editorial team.

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