First, I must make you understand that I’m very fastidious when it comes to poetry. I’m more patient with badly written prose.
Why? I’ll tell you by providing you with an instant poem.
Call it Captured.
Bring my soul home;
Let it go, let it to me come.
If my soul be tied, my body die
And if I die, I die without a sigh….
(Poetic!? But, honestly, I don’t even have a clear picture of what I’m saying. I just think soul is subtle, supra-sensible, metaphysical. Whoever hears the word cannot treat it like it’s an object. Or judge it by the same set of rules. Like: bring my bird home).
If I had this posted somewhere, say, on Facebook or elsewhere, where I should get audience, I’d most certainly get comments like: “Wow, what a nice line!”; “…if my soul be tied, then my body die..nice one there!”….blah, blah, blah.
And all these comments won’t be wrong. Let me explain.
There’s something poets haven’t noticed. Poetry, however badly written, always pretends to say something subtle. It keeps asking the reader: “You don’t get it?”
Bring my soul home….That’s symbolism? The reader thinks. So, what’s the touchstone for determining true poetry? The clarity of the painter’s painting (image) or the readers’ starry-eyed interpretation?
That’s the first reason I hate poetry.
The second reason, in part, follows from the first: is there anyone who cannot do what I just did? Anyone who can’t be a poet?
Poetry becomes the occupation of those too afraid of the tedium of real prose:
If my soul be tied, then my body die….
That line is syntactically incorrect, the reader says. The verb die is plural.
Come on, the poet says, it’s Poetic License. Poets and Popes are alike – infallible.
I developed this wariness after reading Chinua Achebe’s Anthill of the Savannah.
If you’ve read that work, you’ll notice points where Sir Chinua got tired, and sought desperate ways of filling space; so he decided to “hooptedoodle” a bit.
He’d make Ikem, one of the main characters, write lengthy poetry every night. Nice technique? Yes. Because it doesn’t have to be coherent.
My take on Kukogho Iruesiri Samson‘s poem, IM(P)OSSIBLE?
I was quite taken with the poem, not because it had a direct message. In fact, it doesn’t have any obvious message. You don’t understand what he’s saying except you enter into his head.
That’s stanza one.
Here’s my interpretation. The writer, something of a morphologist, provides a word (impossible), tries to break it into “cranberry morphemes” (imp, possible).
Then he realizes (or is shown by a machine?) that the correct two morphemes for the word (impossible) are im- and possible.
And of these two, only one (possible) is an “unbound” morpheme (i.e., a morpheme that can stand alone as a word). Hence the last word of despair (Wimp!).
That’s stanza two.
The morphologist tries again with another word (Failure). He breaks it into fail and lure.
Wrong. Failure is a morpheme, not two. Hence the last line (Wail!).
The third stanza.
The writer succeeds this time, breaking achievable into two correct unbound morphemes: achieve and able.
Hence the positive exclamation: Receive!
Sort of moralizes over the writer’s efforts: “If you strive, you’ll thrive”.
IM(P)OSSIBLE is not a sonnet (maybe a pseudo sonnet), although it has the structure and rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet – three quatrains and a couplet, rhyming a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, g-g.
Sonnets, aside from their structures, rhyme schemes and number of lines, stick to strict decasyllabic lines written in iambic pentameter.
IM(P)OSSIBLE, however, doesn’t even bother with meter at all. Rather, with morphemes.
It’s not a sonnet. Not a free verse, either. Novelty, maybe. Unique. Kukogho-ian.
Guy, I don tire. Make I run drink water. I’m out.
EDITORS NOTE: Sir Prospero O. Anuforo is a literary enthusiast and a writer, well known on literary platforms on Facebook.
He has a page where he appreciates literature and writers.
I am a member of the WRR editorial team.