When does a string of words become a poem?
I see a lot of so-called poems here- of course I have to see them because I’m tagged to a lot of them. Most times I keep quiet or better still I waka pass without liking or commenting, yes I know its a bit bad on my side but what can I do? most people don’t want to listen to constructive criticism. They prefer to dwell in their ego island. So permit to use this medium to express my thoughts on what I think poetry is.
Poetry is an emotional outpour of a poet, its when a poet writes about the itch that scratches his soul. its when a poet scribble his thoughts and feelings about society, life,hate, love, sadness, poverty,culture and tradition, political freedom, racism, e.t.c.
A poem can be simple, it can be deep, it can contain a lot of complex words or simple words but it must have a message, a meaning. So when a poet uses a dictionary to write or uses big words without justification, maybe he wants us to applaud his familiarity with those words. I really don’t know his reasons but whatever it is it kills the natural flow of the poem.
A poem must have a message, it must evoke a feeling of awareness with the reader. If the reader can’t identify with your poem, if he can’t relate or understand what you are writing then you have just wasted your efforts.
I remembered the first time I attended atmosphere- a program put together by writehouse in Ibadan, someone said we should write using things around us. A European do not write a poem using African settings and imageries except it is necessary. Please except it is necessary stick to the environment you know. It will help your poem becomes smoother and have a sense of identity.
A poet must have a voice, when I read a poem by Razaq, Shade, Don Malachy, KIS, Moses, Suedie or Kemjy. I don’t search for the writer of the poem the poem whispers the name of the poet into my ear. They have succeeded in creating a voice for their poems. You must find your voice and your style.
According to Jumoke Verissimo, it is very important for a poet to know all the forms of poetry and then if he wishes create his own style. But it’s necessary you learn about the forms.
That being said, never give up. No man is an island of knowledge so please when you are corrected please take it in good faith. It makes you wise and more better at what you do.