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So you want to be a good poet?

“The art of poetry is the art of speaking metaphorically, and of making linguistic objects that are themselves metaphors are as well as metaphor laden” ~ Carol Rumens.

Someone once opined, that because poetry is so multi-sensory and evocative, it often lingers with us, eliciting visual images, remembered lines and powerful emotional responses.

It therefore suggests that a poem is as good as the verses one can remember or what lines you want to read and read again for its depth and import.

It means a good piece must task your senses (tactile, visual, smell, taste, auditory).

For a person to aim at the sky and drop on the tree-branch is a commendable feat and such a person one is better than many who only looks skywards but never aims at it.

Same applies to writing a poem.

A a poet, you want to create the poem that no one has ever created, verses that will stupefy and impress the best minds.

It will do well to ask yourself, ‘why would anyone want to read this piece tomorrow or ten years from now’?

  • Its meaning?
  • Its humor?
  • Its disturbance of language?
  • Its collocation and fresh use of metaphors?
  • Its directness?

As you aim towards the sky of poetry, you must consciously chose your words, metaphors devices etc as you paint images for the reader.

This simple, easy to adapt formula will help you:

  • S- Scenario: What is happening in this poem? I want to know, the reader needs to know, feel, taste and hear it.
  • P- Purpose: Is there a sub text, a meaning, a moral or a pun you want to push to the reader?
  • I- Imagery: Create word pictures, use figurative language, idiomatic expression etc.
  • D- Diction: Are you speaking like Primary 1 pupil who needs his candy or a high school intelligent dude or sounding like a Professor (this one no good o! Only few people know what tintinnabulating/flabbergasted means).
  • E – Economy of words: Use few words to say more things. Imagine words were hard-earned money, use them only when necessary.
  • R- Rhythm and Rhyme: How your words end with similar sounds or starts with a unique opening just like when you are reading Psalms or Ecclesiastes. No one will tell you it is this part of the Bible that is being read now, because it sounds in a peculiar way, with cadence and musicality or fluidity that reaches you from the inside.

There you go, weave your verses like a spider and get a landing spot in the skies, or beyond… at worst, you’ll fall on a tree branch, above ground.

by Shittu Fowora (with additional notes by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson).

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