Excuse my impetuous nature, but I want to ask a daring question:
Are you really a poet —a word artist, or just a rambling mind, whipping a pen (keyboard) and word-spitting without word-knowledge or attempting creative finesse?
I ask this question of you, yes you, that write a billion poems a day, each as watery as Malam Garba’s cheap ‘shayi’ which he calls tea?
When you churn out a thousand poems a day, do you really get original in any?
Don’t you see your repeated my metaphors, obsolete verses and over-flogged imageries?
- Why not take your time to actually work on one poem, get it as close to perfection as you can before moving to the next one?
- Why not present original images, dig into yourself and make each poem a different outpouring
- Why not explore the world of words so that your word-manipulation will be unique and appreciable?
- Why not make each poem an entity of its own, rather than make it a shadow of the last and the foetus of the next?
You should be able to ask yourself:
Am I brewing world-wine, that gets readers mind-and-soul-drunk or making diluted ‘zobo’ – tasteless but plenteous, so much that even the most patient of drinkers must spit after each mouthful?
Your answer to that question will determine what you produce.
To help you in answering that question, I ask:
Do you not know why it takes Hollywood a longer time to produce a movie than Nollywood or why it takes longer for Asa to drop an album than the average roadside singer?
Why do you think Asa’s song ‘Jailer’ remains fresh on minds, almost 9 years on and we still listen to African Queen by Tuface and all the ancient songs when no one remembers a song from albums dropped yesterday?
So, by writing a billion poems per hour, are you creating art, which poetry is, or just dropping words like bored clouds trying to make a mess of the earth surface?
Is your painting surface, as a poet, like a flooded plain or is it a vast continent with seas, ponds, lakes, deserts oasis, rainforests… and animals?
- Pay attention to detail – if you mention Android while talking about colonialism you must be in a time warp; or a poem from a girl’s POV mentioning ‘her erection’
- Subject verb agreement (SVO) – verbs and noun must agree in number, tense especially!
- Do away with irrelevant words – if a word doesn’t add to the poem, axe it!
- Stick to the theme – don’t throw us back and forth like one of my friend whose poems seem to be drunk always.
- Read wide and study words – the more you understand words, the better it is to manipulate them. Ask footballers why they never stop training despite their talent.
- Structure your poems – yeah, even free verse can have form. Learn about stanza structures, types of rhymes and how to make your blank verse artistic without rhymes
- Edit your poems – not even the best poet writes perfectly so don’t use that ‘inspiration’ excuse to cover up errors. Simply edit!
Well, it’s up to you, but I advise that next time you plan a poem, think twice and ensure that you don’t flood the earth with words – paint the earth with beautifully clustered words, deliberately welded together to create your own view of the world, and convince us to understand, and maybe, accept it.
Anyway, like I said, never mind my impetuous nature.
by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson