Let us begin with the awkward situation many people find themselves in when they’re faced with a poem. Maybe you can’t even imagine it. You’ll never be faced with a poem. What can ever bring poetry to you has not been born. Maybe it’s in the future possible tense of the language that will succeed the English Language.
But wait. Just imagine that you’re faced with the thought of poetry. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
‘It’s difficult to understand, so I’ll never consider it.’
Did I guess right?
More than we think it’s true, poetry is an important aspect of our daily life. Sometimes, we need it to feel alive. Let me show you how.
If a poem is about FGM and you’d been circumcised against your will while you were young, would you read the poem, even though you never liked poetry?
If a poem is about the ills of tribal marks but you’d been tribal-marked when you were little. If the poem promises to teach you how to get rid of those long stretches of marks on your cheeks. If you dislike poetry with a passion, would you go ahead and read the poem?
But such are the words of the poet, deep and reaching down to the soul. Enraptured in it is a hope for tomorrow and wisdom to navigate the nightmares that won’t let you sleep at night.
Fortunately, carved in the heart of every poem are salient messages like these. Messages you won’t be able to see until you take a leap. And then by the time you get into it, it engrosses you so much that you’re not willing to turn back. It is like going into the belly of a well. The deeper you go, the longer your journey back.
Approach Poetry with a Different Mindset
If you can approach poetry with a different mindset, you may discover that there’s a lot of meaning in it for you. Petry is not difficult to understand if you become interested in it.
I believe, together with David Biespiel, ‘that most people have little trouble reading a poem, that most people like poetry, that most people crave the pure pleasure of poems and that most people want a poem that is not too obvious.’
You can be one of those ‘most people’ Biespiel was referring to when David Naimon interviewed him at Between the Covers. He further insisted that getting lost through poetry can be a pathway for you to discover yourself and some of your innermost needs.
Poetry is a Gift for Everyone
However, poetry is not only meant to satisfy our emotional cravings. It is found in culture, in language, and in every system that exists in the space of man’s universe. Poetry is beyond the written or spoken words. Poetry is a muse. The muse that gives explanation to our dogged trying. The muse that gives clarity to our hazy sights.
Every poet is a giver and every poem is a gift to those who understand the value of gifting. But most times, these gifts don’t come naked as they’ve been bought or as the receiver has expected. Instead, they are wrapped in layers like an onion. The more layers you peel, the more gift you peel away until you have nothing left.
Such is poetry. The essence is hidden in words the reader must be able to access, either simple or complex. And in the instance, God forbid, where no one is able to access the language, the gift becomes useful only to the poet, a lost cause in the school of poetic discipline.
But the gift of poetry isn’t just an onion to spice your stew alone, it could also be a pepper spray in your eyes, a healthy chew in your veins, or both. Much more, poetry should be accepted for what it is, poetry. And that’s the greatest gift poetry is to humans, an art presented in a logical language for an audience that revels in whatever gift the poet has to offer.
Poetry Is Not Only Meant for Children
Be careful when you surmise that poetry is meant for children. That’s not true. Poetry is meant for everyone. Both adults and children. Poetry helps us to take words seriously. It helps us to take language more seriously than other genres of writing can ever do. In fact, poetry is an essential tool you can harness in the development of your writing skills.
Over the next posts, we’re going to take a tour only you and I can take because you’re meant to be part of this journey. If you’ve never read or written poetry before, here’s your chance to try a new diversion. Who knows, maybe the words of these essays will be strong enough to lure you into a web of reasoning where you’ll always want to stay because there’s more to weave than you could have guessed before you took the gamble.
Take a Look at Writing
So far, we’ve been taking a look at poetry. But there’s more to it. If you’ve never considered yourself a writer before, this may be the ride you’ve been subconsciously waiting for. Because truly, the writing journey is good and the writer’s legs are always eager to test new waters.
And just as poetry, writing is freeing. It gives clarity to a clouded mind. It’s a means of purging yourself from the waste of yesterday. It’s a means of freeing yourself from the sweet and bitter burdens in your chest. It’s a means of remolding yourself for the sake of tomorrow.
If you’ve always been a writer in profession and action, you’ve written good and bad first drafts, you’ve thrown some writings away and have held dear to some, then you’ve come to the right place. Come and teach me what you already knew by reading my words. Rob mind with me, not body, for the distance of location will not permit us to embrace and transfer knowledge by saying, ‘Of course, I understand.’
Take a Look at the Art
And if you’re an artist, of words, of paintings, of music, of designs, or photography, of sculpture or of drawings, I’ll like you to come out of your shed (oh, yours is called a studio, isn’t it?) once a week to catch a breeze together with me, because I write for you.
If you’ve read ‘About PAW’, I mentioned that art is a glue that binds poetry and writing together. Art is an expression of thought, of feelings, of desires, of love and of creativity.
Interestingly, it is through art that we have a pictorial idea of the creative world. In other words, art gives us pictures that only our imaginative mind can capture. Writing is descriptive. Poetry is evocative. Art is picturesque. But together, the three are indivisible.
Summarily, if you’re interested in the language of poetry, art and writing, let us explore the tropes together. Try not to disembark at the next stop. Join the carriage for a long journey. Some of the passengers that have disembarked at that same stop have realized that it wasn’t their stop and have had to trek to the next stop in order to join the carriage again. If we stick together long enough, you’ll be fed, your thirsts will be quenched and your creative fire will rekindle.
Who knows, maybe there are desires in your heart that only words can meet, words that understand your condition. Who knows, maybe all you need is a universe of words, simple or complex, written in lines, verse or prose to fire up your creativity.
Whatever you bring home from this journey should be the gift you’ve always wanted to have, even if you were never aware that you needed it. Trust your eyes, it will always be ready to search for the gift. Because somewhere in that wrap of onions, there’s a layer that’s usable for your meal, before it turns again into emptiness.
And even if it’s difficult to find your wrap in the endless roll, it will only be difficult, it will never be impossible. For every reading you do here, there’s a point of connection we will have. There’s a point of mutual understanding. A point of head nodding and thumb raising. And that’s because you’ll soon understand my moves. But as for me, I understood your needs from long ago.