Yeah, I know that most of us forgot today is Achebe’s sixth anniversary. Let’s start this by saying ‘Thank God Achebe lived. Thank God for the poetry of his words as well as the poetry of his life.’
Achebe is – not was, for to live in the heart of those alive is never to die … Achebe is a great guy whose work and words continue to echo in our thoughts. In deed, truly, when we pray that the ink of our thoughts never dry, we can say his runs on long after the sands fell upon his remains far away in Ogidi… Reminds me of my earlier thoughts on honouring our heroes ala the Shakespeare talk.
May we live to be significant, if not on the global stage, at least, in our corners of this fine world.
But to poetry, gaan, what is this poetry and we do we celebrate it?
What is poetry and why do we need to celebrate it? I have mentioned, maybe a million times, that poetry to me, is like art, an expression of one’s innermost feelings. It is the beauty of the rays that colour our days; the duty we owe to beauty; the capturing of every thing fine in a line – or maybe many more. Just anything that makes us less sore. It is the wow feeling that has dealing words that would ease the hurt of swords. What is poetry? Didn’t you hear all I said? It is everything said and in the beauty of irony, the silence of all too.
On this day, I remember a lot of poets who are great patriots… Writing a lot as well as trying their best to create means to bring ways to make it better. Think of Okigbo whose passion led him to the floor at Opi; dead for a Biafra he believed in. Now, there’s Chuma Nwokolo who is bringing up a most beautiful movement to help fight corruption (the Bribe Code Act, that I think you should check and sign up to.)
There’s much to poetry that leaves me amazed every time and every day. World Poetry Day reminds me to celebrate this great craft.
It all sounds abstract till you begin to think of how words can raise nations, destroy it, how words can stir us up, and take us down. Think more of how the words fill the soul and make us whole. When you ever had to woo someone, that was poetry. When you had to take a certain decision; to be or not to be… that was the word. So, is the word poetry? Is poetry simply the word? What lies to make a difference to both?
Think deep… not too deep as to make you sleep but think… Those lines in which verse thrilled you all around… Words building on each other, taking a strange order. You think you might never have written true verse but think again…
In the beginning was the word…
But let us leave poetry as an entity for a minute and think of the celebration – World Poetry Day. Why celebrate it? Maybe because we need one special day to pay tribute to crafters of the word, versifiers who have paid the price to be called sages, bards and the like.
I remember on this day, words passed down from generation to generation: legends and folklore that my father passed down to me in words never written. I remember the orality of all of those: orature, the oral poetry. Poetry helped carry my history and has made me more whole giving a greatness to my soul sealing the ignorance of a dark hole. For that, I celebrate poetry.
I remember on this day, people who led by the passion of the verse stayed on crafting verse while pouring their souls teaching lessons that have left me thinking in different directions. I think of lines from forever ago that have been captured in lines that leave me wowed now and on. For that, I celebrate poetry.
I remember on this day, people who ministered to me and got me out of the depths of certain anguish. I remember Shakespeare, I remember Okigbo, I remember Chinua Achebe, I remember Wordsworth, Edgar Allan Poe, T. S. Elliot, Ezenwa-Ohaeto, Kofi Awoonor and most recently, most recently, most recently, Pius Adesanmi, the wayfarer… Fallen poets whose words were swords that created peace and soothing; poets who were able to stand their grounds thinking in lines that echo their presence even as the times with the reality of gone souls proclaim their absence. For that, I celebrate poetry.
I remember on this day, many writers bleeding to a headache despite little or no reward, writing on, and trying to do their best so that life will bring far more: I remember teachers and friends, award winners, promoters and thinkers… I remember my teachers, Andrew Ame-Odindi Aba, Moses Tsenongu and Maria Ajima who were firm foundations. I remember Sam Ogabidu, my elder brother and one of the people who helped me take my craft more serious. We lived literature a lot and he has remained someone I honour deeply, for all he stood for and stands for. One of Benue’s finest poets ever. The other list is long: my wife, Agatha Aduro Agema, Debbie Iorliam, Ekwuazi Hyginus, Chuma Nwokolo, Emman Shehu Amu Nnadi, Rem Raj, Servio Gbadamosi, Torkwase Igbana, Oko Owi Ocho Afrika, Biachi Ndidi Anointing Saddiq M Dzukogi, Ominira Labeija (Romeo Oriogun), Dami Ajayi, Iquo DianaAbasi, G ‘Ebinyo Ogbowei, Ebi Yeibo, Sibbyl Akwaugo Whyte, Andrew Aondosoo Labe, Sewe Leah, Graciano Enwerem, Basiru Sunday Amuneni, Dike Chukwumerije, Efe Paul Azino EnigmaTic Olumide Bisiriyu, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson Olumide Holloway , Nkemjikaku Christien, Maik Ortserga, Jennifer Chinenye Emelife, Yakori Muhammed, Richard Ali, Adeola Opeyemi, Major Agee, Jumoke Verisimmo, Nathalie Ene Odaba, Celina Kile, Damian Terkaa Jam, Chiedu Ezeanah, Bose Tsevende, Chukwuemeka Obi-Obasi and Chinyere Iwuala Obi-Obasi, Om’Oba Jerry Adesewo, Omadachi Oklobia, Aidee Erhime David Ishaya Osu, Terseer Sam Baki Sam DePoetRasaq Malik Gbolahan, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, and a million other poets, friends with whom I have dined… had the fun of suffering with too, and had the joy of some cool days. I have enjoyed their verses, beautiful pieces that have left me smiling in glee… and also shared the anguish of that time when the muse left and they wondered if they were any good … Had those days when we shared thoughts and wondered if our verse was worth it at all… Does poetry sell? Why waste our time? Still, they bled away precious time as they let the ink flow. They let it go; when it was fast, when it went past and even when it was slow, making us feel low. I hail them all on this day as we let the times fly by and then craft words together again, throw them away, find others and scribble on.
On days like this, when issues of existential crises come up, it is only the power of words, its timelessness, the joys of the brethren of the pen and moving on that makes things go right.
In the beginning, was the word. In the end, what becomes of us; what is our tale? Simply, a collection of words.
For this and so much more, I celebrate poetry.
Happy Poetry Day and Happy Anniversary to our dear dear Chinua Achebe.