Today 21st March 2017 is World Poetry Day. So everything I write in this post must rhyme with day. Thus I will say, that I lay, in the arms of poetry’s bed made with hay.
There is a lot about poetry that people don’t know about. Its purpose in the world is sometimes ridiculed as a dying art form for hopeless romantics and bards seeking attention.
In 1999 the celebration of poetry was instituted by UNESCO. UNESCO believed that poetry had a unique way of capturing the minds of people and encouraging creativity.
Part of its objectives were:
- To support linguistic diversity through poetic expression.
- To offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.
The day is also meant
- To encourage a return to oral tradition of poetry recitals.
- To promote the teaching of poetry.
- To restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting
- To support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.
– UNESCO website
What Poetry Means To Me
Poetry is another form of expression. I have used it several times to express myself in a different manner to get people to see things differently.
It can be personal or expressed to the public. It can be used for entertainment or pleasure; inspiration, social commentary and many more.
A good number of songs without their instrumental can be viewed as poems. Yet the world today still doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of this artform.
I see poetry in everything and urge others to encourage this art form that once used to be held in high esteem.
From my recent travels to Kenya, I saw the power of poetry being emanated through slammers at a spoken word event called Slam Africa.
Each of the slammers tackled a social issue and got the audience to view their message in a manner that got them thinking. The poets tackled topics such as femininity, discrimination, rape, ignorance, Christianity and many more.
I was awestruck by the their performance and more than ever realized that as poets we are blessed with a gift to reach out to people. Communicate with them on issues that will add value to their lives.
This is similar to marketing campaigns only that words are used orally. Id marketing campaigns are sometimes worth millions and often times incorporate visual artists, musicians and actors why can’t poetry and poets be respected as such?
Unfortunately poets are not respected for their craft. Corporates and small enterprises see the creation of poetry as ‘easy-peasy’ and don’t value the creation of the content.
Thus the industry is raped by EXPOSURE. Believeing that we are being offered an opportunity whilst truth be told, it usually doesn’t get far.
How Can This Change?
In my opinion poetry in Ghana has a marketing, reputation and unity issue. Our art is not packaged in a manner that makes it attractive to the public. People seem to be doing the art form a favor rather than actually patronizing and giving it a chance based on merit.
The other aspect involves reputation. Good reputation should see poets rise to unimaginable heights. Unfortunately anyone can get up and claim to be a poet; and while I don’t doubt their zeal, a lot more goes into this art form than meets the eye.
Thus competition for poetry is often times non existent as organizations or individuals usually stick to who they know or are exposed to only a small number of poets who sometimes are not packaged well. Making a decision on who to choose difficult.
We are also not united as poets in Ghana. This is no fault of ill malice on the part of anyone but rather the lack of interest by all to come together for the common good of benefiting the industry.
We have come a long way as a country with regards to poetry. We still need to do more. Rome however wasn’t built in a day so maybe this year we will try and build the Colosseum.
Happy World Poetry Day!
Keep it One HONDRED!
P.S In celebration of World Poetry Day there is a poetry show at PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra, Ghana