There is something about the depth of the artiste – it is only gotten by going into the heart of this one. Several years ago, I would marvel at the profoundness of the works of lots of literary maestros. The depth of their creative springs and reaches left me bedazzled. I started writing, churning out tales easily with poetry and the seeming ‘myth’ of the work put into writing lost its hold on me: these were simply creative works thrown out. Unnecessary attention was usually given them – I thought. I read some critiques to show the pretensions of people’s works. But then, I got to change yet again as I became more of a writer by reading and growing values that I would hold on to.
Writing, which was overtly easy to me, became harder. Each word became important – what message is this giving? Does it speak what I want? Does it tell what I represent? Many thoughts died with words stifled out till at some point, it became somewhat more possible (but not easier) to churn out words. Poems and other write-ups took longer time and more edits. My being went into the process.
Where is this leading to?
IT brought me to realize that the depths I had seen in works several years ago were, in many cases, for real. I do not doubt that certain writers simply write without thinking. I do not doubt that several writers don’t write what they preach. Yet I know a whole lot do. It is these ones that make the reading worth the while, most of the times. The ones that make the name ‘writer’ worth wearing with pride. I should add: I also know there are certain writers who just write for the heck of it but I guess you have an idea of those I am talking about. Maybe I am even talking to you now.
There’s no art to finding the mind’s construction in the face rings true in this case too. You have to read the work and in some cases, know the writer deeply to know if both tally: You make your analysis of a work and if you know the author well you can tell if it is a reflection of his/her thoughts or simply a blessing of some muse on a(n) (un)deserving ass (pun intended).
I do not doubt the humanity of the writer. I believe it greatly and know they are more human than many with their foibles, mistakes and all. Now, does it matter that almost everyone on the road or in their room for that matter claims to be a writer? I don’t really think so. What separates (the) writer(s) is the depth of thought that (s)he has come to garner and yes, experience too. It comes from the study of several ones – in books read. The experience in a rich life lived, no matter how such. It’s the varying experience carried. A writer who hasn’t read is not really a writer worth much salt. A writer who hasn’t lived really, hasn’t lived.
(Yes, yes, importantly, there’s skill too and the unseen magic wand – hand? – of the editor)
I have studied several works and had the pleasure of meeting, interacting and enjoying the unique grace of the friendships of many writers. The true writer still exists and I have seen him and her severally. I get to discover that what I thought of some of their work was far less than what lay therein. They – most writers – are far deeper. It has been very humbling but worth it all. To know these people who are peculiar yet similar in many lights. These ones who would many times just want to be alone to access the recesses of their innermost beings or others who would just want to go out and get it. These ones who look at a bland wall and discover lines to leave others amazed.
All this has made sense why some artistes would risk it all for their craft. It makes sense why a lot of them see that there’s a lot they can offer in words and actions. It’s in the definition of that depth that has become them from all they have drunk of and become – of the words of others, of the life they have lived.
For every true writer, there’s a depth…
Phoneys, have fun. Children, enjoy. Writers, live on.
(Reblogged from…years ago.)
Happy February everyone. May each day smile for you.
Life is one big contradiction in every field but it is more so when you are a writer—or so I think. You think you are there, you think you have the right words. You are in the moment and you bask as Mother Muse slowly pours herself unto your pages through the medium of creativity.
Depending on the time, you push yourself to the end or just rush it to a stop. Finally, you smile at seeming perfection. Ah! For the conscious writer, something pricks you to note that the work might have flaws here and there. So, you might decide to get editors or throw the work away. If you get the right editors, your headache begins. Have you ever noticed how those folks always seem to find faults here or there? Some of the faults are so obvious you have to hit yourself in the head! Ouch! How could you have missed that? This is the beauty of patience and seeking counsel. (Yes, if you miss the editorial seat, you might miss a lot of good stuff that might have made your work better.)
Anyway, you do your rewrite and maybe feel the work is okay… Or you keep editing till you tire out. I have been known on occasion to keep editing right up to the door of the final proofer and printer doors! Anyway, finally, you push the work out, hoping that someone will like it somehow and it will be the ticket to giving you something good. Some of us, and I am a front man in this group, edit and refine our work tying as many screws as possible.
In most cases, you get your work or book published and the feeling, for most, is indescribable. It is like a baby given to a parent. The looks of wonder at the new you is something the adjectives of the universe will not dare present. You hold that book close… Yes, I know there are a few who would look at their own book with bad eyes especially if it didn’t come out the way they like. Talk of all those parents who discover that their children are disfigured or not of the sex they want! But no, we are not talking of those sorts of parents. We are talking of the proud ones and yes, I didn’t derail. We are still talking about books.
It is easy to find authors who pick their published books and see things they wish could have been done or written differently. Many times have authors been caught reading what they hoped they might have put. Some would take a pen and correct a few lines shortly before reading at a festival or something. Sometimes you begin to see things that might best have been removed or something that might have been added for effect. It gets to the case of seeing your grown child not being the perfect baby you had once viewed. The hope is that with the next book, you will take extra precaution and have your heart more expressed.
Usually, the ideal thing that most writers come to discover is that a work is best left to fallow for three months or maybe a year… just enough time for you to have become a stranger so that you will edit your work through fresh eyes since looking at the same thing over slowly makes it seem perfect. But time is not on the side of anyone and how long can one really take? The changes and all might never be enough and we usually have to just halt. Much like what poet and scholar, Hyginus Ekwuazi says echoing older writers of yore, no true work of art has ever been truly completed. You simply have to get the maturity to let it go, and pray that point was a time worth your imperfection.
So much to writing, so much to reading. Oh well. In the end, who knows what I might want to edit from this piece… I will be mature and let it fly. Wherever your writing and reading takes you this weekend, and in the coming week, make it worth the time. Cheers!
I have learnt to take a few things; to embrace the tears of others, whether in joy or sadness. It has been a year like that. 2017 was. I have grown tougher, and yet, softened too. I am not the man I was at the start of that year, or the man the year left. I have learnt to love more, but to also note, that even those we love have great flaws. While it takes nothing to be loyal and it is allowed to be blind, we have to be wise to listen when people point out errors in us and in those we love. No need to defend blindly or to be angry when we are told the truth. Importantly, there is no weakness in being sorry. No matter how far gone or how early, once we find our wrong, we should right it in what ways we can while acknowledging our guilt. We can change what we can, and should change it if we have to, and if it will make things better. What we can’t, we can’t and we can only find ways to assuage what damages we can.
Life is what it is – kind and unfair, in differing measures. We have to accept this.
I learnt an important lesson: to have a chest for happy memories where I would save treasured moments, to use in times of torment. There are those days when the skies get too bleak and it is only those memories that become the light to help us through the darkness those times bring. In simple English: appreciate every moment and store vividly every time of joy. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
There’s no time to be too bitter, let things go. Time is fickle and life too short. I know this. I lost two uncles (brothers), two cousins (siblings), a cousin’s child and a younger sister. To mention only those in the direct family. Just in a year…and all, in the second half. That same season when I did my nuptials (apologies to family and friends who I couldn’t get through to or thought I got to in my state of being overwhelmed… You still mean much, and we are still collecting gifts 🙂 ). Vern, the treasure of most of us, was only 28 years old. She died on the 1st of December. She was buried, as is the tradition with young ones, a week later on the 8th, a day to my church wedding. I had thought I had lost the gift of my tears as I would experience the deepest of pains without an outlet to shed away the tears. For her, I cried non-stop for hours. And in my heart, the wound of her loss still bleeds, and will, for very long time. The trauma for my brother, James Blaze, and my other siblings, is perhaps more but we all mourn differently, pain being a private affair always no matter how shared. In the same season I got to share of the loss of the child of my good friend and adopted brother, Saddiq Dzukogi. It got me thinking on much too. A whole lot. And just when we thought it was all over, another cousin lost his daughter on the 31st of December, 2017. #sigh
In the spirit of the New Year, I am starting life afresh and thinking of things in new lights. I have my family, my co-driver, Agatha, with whom I am navigating… I don’t know where these roads would lead but I am hoping to be a better man in every ramification. I raise a toast to us all and ask, that in all our ways, we also take that step to be better than we were everyday. At the last second, life’s battle is not a race with others but with ourselves. May we smile, fulfilled whenever the curtain calls, and may life always treat us kind. Amen.
He heard of her arrival
shouted her to his face
in every place and direction
not enough, she seized signposts
travellers left wary of location
in the forceful paste of her plastic smile
She hugged trees
and adorned walls
her jingle on the radio the new herald of dawn
TVs took over
proclaiming her, the promise of sweet dreams at dusk
He died for her
till she came to town, sirens blaring—
He thought himself her all
and ran to claim her
but found a long line waiting…
She smiled sweetly, melting them,
spoke lovely little nothings,
waved and left.
She came to town
but nowhere in any heart.
(From Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile, Makurdi: SEVHAGE, 2014)
Today, I stand to salute a great man, whose greatness is bellowed by his utter humility. A priest, a teacher, a moulder of character. An Irish man, a priest of the other of St. Patrick’s Society – Very Rev. Fr. J. D. O’Connell, SPS, MFR.
After serving as a priest of Minna Diocese for 55yrs and school Principal for 50, Fr’s time in Nigeria is slowly coming to an end. It was therefore only apt that one of the many occasions in his honor be held today.
One day, I will write about this man. About his time at Government Secondary School Minna which is more correctly called Fr’s school – there is no higher honor than to be called Fr’s boy. A badge many wear with pride. His boys are legion; former governors, commissioners, lawmakers and even the legendary Cyril Stober. If you were a young boy in Minna and you were not in GSS, you were of all men, to be most pitied. And I perhaps may hold the distinction of being the only girl Fr wanted to offer admission to after it became an all-boys school – I mean, he had a complete plan of how I would sew the trademark gray trousers.
Remembering his stories of carrying wooden desks and chairs across River Kaduna to the hinter areas of Wushishi bring tears to my eyes.
Remembering his stories of disabling one headlight of his car so that the truant boys he was after, in the bush would not realize it was he, imagining it was a motorbike until he was upon them, bring laughter to my lips.
If you saw a school boy walking home in gray trousers but without a school shirt or with one leg of shoe, just know Fr was punishing him. Go home and explain to your parents why you went to school with shirt and came back without.
One day, I will write about this man, quietly dignified in the suffering that Parkisons brought him in this latter part of his stay. Determined to be completely self-reliant and hesitant to ask for help if he thought it was going to be a burden. Wanting to cause the least amount of disruption possible. One day, I will write about him, and it will break my heart.
Everyone in Niger feel an intense need to show this man how much he really means to us: from road walks to traditional titles. Today the Niger state government announced the re-naming of GSS Minna to Fr. J. D O’Connell Secondary School. That they may truly be Fr’s boys.
Fr O’Connell, much like the rest of us, doesn’t want to go. And when I say ‘Fr, don’t go’, he laughs. Because we both know that he is loyal to his vows, even to the last; Poverty. Abstinence. Obedience. Always Obedience.
It is the same laugh we get when he’s being stubborn about something. The same laugh we get when we say ‘Fr, you’re not sitting properly. Stand up and sit properly’. And he laughs, and stands up and attempts to fit his Parkinson-afflicted body properly into the chair. Or when we ask ‘Fr, have you been exercising?’ Always that laugh. Jennifer and I are not in Minna at the moment so on Monday he called us to ask us our email addresses. On Tuesday, we both received mails with almost 30 pictures form the varioua activities going on now. Because Fr. O’Connell.
One day, I will write about this man. But today, let me say, here is a man who completely embodied his society’s motto: Caritas Christi Urget Nos; The love of Christ compels us.
Today, let me say ‘Here is a man, truly like Christ’. Here is a Man of God.
I’m afraid to tag all the Fr’s Boys on my Facebook friend list because this post will become a market! (That’s how we refer to GSS when we talk – Fr how was market today?) But I will. And if you are tagged and you believe Fr had any impact on your life, share on your wall and tag your friends! Heck, share this post on your blogs and everywhere else.
Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.
About Kahlil Gibrain
Kahlil Gibrain (1883-1931) is one of the world’s most popular and best selling poets of all times. He was a Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, artist and writer. His writings are deeply prophetic (he actually has a book titled The Prophet 🙂 )and deep. Google his poetry and if you get the opportunity, buy and/or read his books. His words are transforming if you let them sink. Now, let’s end this with a quote from him:
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
once, there was a storyteller
who created fires from sparks
who started each tale with ‘let there be’…
a teller of many intertwining tales
who told our universe to be
and in that space,
he killed the darkness, formed the light
filled everywhere, made it bright…
the teller decided to tell another tale
‘let there be…’
a dragged sentence that took nine sticks
and a rubbing of stones
the answer was a tiny spark…
that found movement in four ways…
four feet became two
as seconds multiplied minutes
that aged into years
the tale spiralled on, and formed extensions
that spanned decades through an existence
of much that left in some minds
a steady presence, in others an absence
this tale continued
a fire spreading
burning as it lit others
within, other tales made:
continuations that left everyone amazed…
the fire quenched to smoke
the tale came to a halt
it lived on in others and became a narrative
one that continues to be
in a beauty everyone can see
but the fire was meant to be reborn
and so the storyteller…
…decided to add one more
like many other things
the voice said: ‘let there be…’
it was a long sentence that took nine sticks
Maybe someday I will write that poem, of lives that mattered and lies that counted. Maybe, I will sing a song to show the beauty of the wrong that brought about this long tale that I call life. Maybe, then, it would not seem important enough, with time’s chime lost to the exigencies of what pressures that time would bring.
Maybe, you would be with me. Maybe, we would be free – of us – and chained with realities of others.
But that is for someday.
Today, let’s be us. And dance in the spirit of the fights and cuddles, the distance and closeness, the peace and troubles.
Today, let us love and build those memories for…someday.
Who knows what this morning brought with it from yesterday?
Did one second at least bring a smile?
Hold on to it…and even if others force a frown for the times, let it go…just for a bit. Push it aside. There’s beauty deep within from which you can draw new lines to make you laugh.
What are the words of others?
Don’t let any harshness steal your joy. Meditate, let go of what doesn’t count..
Then make the rest of everything else do so.
Too many laughs depend on you… So, think of us. With love even as we follow slow steps to Orisa’s groves where we shall drink deep of your pools… and say soothing words to ease our souls of strain, and whatever pain might lie therein.
(P.S: Final stanza lines inspired by a poem by Agatha Aduro, bardest boo ever liveth. #hugs)