Sunday, 22 July 2018

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HOW POETRY FOUND ME (2)



In 2015, I took a university course which required that we learnt how to analyze poems. The text we were using was Professor Niyi Osundare's, THE WORD IS AN EGG. So many things struck me about Niyi's poetry. I will share a few.


First of all, the simplicity of his diction. Every poem of his, however rich, lives and dies in one city- simpliCITY. After reading each poem, I began to know the taste of words and found out it was, (still is) everything yummy.


Niyi didn't use forced rhymes. He let the water of his muse flow in its chosen tributaries. When his muse insisted on a Yoruba word, he'd use it and leave a footnote. I was learning for the first time that poems didn't have to be rhyming lines.


It was based on this exposure and that which came from reading more and more poems from Niyi and others that I wrote the poem which won the 2017 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize "A Tune From my Flute of Freedom." I am thankful that I broke free from the pen-cuff of rhymes!


Many people talk about my metaphorical representations and dexterity with usage of personifications, but I must say this is something I learnt from reading Niyi's poems, watching his Utube performances, etc.


After I watched a video of his poem "A Hole in the Sky" I understood nature a little more and when I would advocate for nature/the earth in my poem, "A Letter to Dawn", I birthed a beautiful piece.


This is not to say, I do not read and enjoy other poets, but whatever poetry has become to me today got its spark from Niyi's poetry. The force of inertia came first from his poetic representations.


He seemed to say, with each piece, be free to express yourself, let your words become gaseous, use your poetic license, test the pun waters and be true to yourself!


When I would do my first poetry performance in 2016, I introduced myself thus:
My name is Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing,
I am mad. Oh yes, I am insane!
But don't be sad, for my insanity in the words of Professor Niyi Osundare
is "the Sane madness of a poet."


It's a couple of years down already, but since there is no saturation point in poetry, I am deliberate about growing and about getting better at passing my message in lines and verses.


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