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Keep Poetry Dreams Alive
Poetry starts with self, how it makes you angry, happy or sad. When a thought presents itself, write it down on your cellphone. There is a storage for documents there, or send yourself an e-mail, otherwise you will lose the moment, like fleeting colours of the sky during sunrise.
Your poems should make you smile. Did I write that? That's a beautiful way of expressing that she no longer loves me. You must enjoy your poems after five or more years, otherwise they were not poems to begin with.
It is sometimes difficult for poets to tell their immediate family and friends that they want to work full time on their craft. That is why it is important to hang out with people who understand, as in birds of the same poetry feathers, flock together.
Check out your weekly entertainment newspapers, such as NOW in Toronto and see if there are any clubs that have poetry nights. Also check online listings.
Approach the language department at the local university (you don’t have to be a student) and find out about poetry workshops for the public.
Join writing sites like shewrites.com. Most of them have poetry groups.
Type and print your poems and keep them in a binder. It will make you feel good and inspire you to go on. You might consider publishing the first 20 poems yourself.
Keep your day job.
Read Your Poems Aloud
POEM: Cito Gaston
a million thanks
for the world series
for the revelry on yonge street
for the maple leaf fluttering
in the Atlanta breeze
for the skydome record attendance
but the workplace is
a different ballgame
the curve balls and breaking balls
are just not the same
the workplace is more sliders
you need to take
English language classes
undergo a management course
understudy a 22 year-old
on how to push files
between the fifth and 10 floor
human resources management
is more complicated
a world class team
by the way cito
thanks for robbing
those arrogant americans
of their pastime
the world series
but the boardrooms of Canada?
sorry cito, you just don't have
the necessary Canadian experience
@Nonqaba waka Msimang
Maya Angelou Everyday Poet
Poetry is a celebration of the mind and its capacity to link dots of life. This dot looks like that one, so poets jot them down on a piece of paper or electronic device, and a creature is born that is part human, part fauna or flora, or plain crazy.
Maya Angelou, who died on the 28th of May 2014 is indelible in my mind because she made poetry understandable. She literally brought it closer to home. Ordinary people can relate to it because her poems are about her body and how others related to it.
It is about her experiences as a woman, a black woman. It is about politics of the day. It is about the environment. It is about love. In fact, her poetry is about the whole spectrum of life.
We Are All Poets
Age does not matter. Anybody can be a poet, as long as the brain is still alive at the front desk of life, receiving requests and processing them.
All it needs is a conviction that you have something to say to somebody. You can even read your poetry to your dog and cat. Pets do listen. You don’t speak the same language that’s all, but they do have the capacity to listen.
George Mpanga, born yesterday really, on the 14th of January 1991, is a British poet, or spoken word artist. He studied Human, Social and Political Sciences at Kings College, Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
He believes in his craft so much, he calls himself George The Poet. Period.
‘Out of the 7 billion people in the world, and there is only one you.’ This line, from his poem 1,2,1,2, should be a pick-me-up when we are experiencing one of those days, the low days.
Society and Poets
Family and friends tolerate poets to a certain extent. They just draw the line if you make the announcement that you are going to study poetry in college. What kind of job will you get when you graduate Lula Mae?
If you already have a job, you cannot tell your family that you are going to quit and write full time. They will think you have lost it, completely. There are many misconceptions about poets.
Some think they are pipe-smoking professors in some red brick university, drinking tea and studying dead poets.
Some think poets are colourful characters who play the guitar in Washington Square or London Underground, with clothes that do not have allegiance to GQ or Vogue magazines.
Some think they are brilliant, and speak about them in great awe. He is a p-o-e-t.
Far from it. We are all poets because of the sense of smell, sight, sound, taste and touch.
Poetry is when we make a necklace of all these things. Certain things remind us of places and people. Pigeons in Trafalgar Square in London represent different things to different people.
In fact, we should have a thousand poems a day about those pigeons. If they could write, they would come up with hilarious observations about us, the tourists who feed them.
Poems Are Thoughts
Poetry is nothing but thoughts and we all have them. You are quiet. What are you thinking? A poem shoots up right there. Write it down.
Sometime in January 2016, in a photography site on Google, someone posted a landscape photo. It was accompanied by a caption. We commented that it was a nice poem, but he said it wasn't. It was about love that could be lost at anytime.
It was how he felt, but it read like a poem. Anybody reading the caption could easily come to the conclusion that it was a poem.
That is when i realised that we still put poetry out of our reach because we think it is difficult or something that can only be written by university folks. Not so.
Poetry Is Feelings
How does that make you feel? I don’t like that question because it is insensitive. How is a mother supposed to feel when her son, who was a finalist in a reality TV cooking contest, is found dead in an alley way and the police call it suicide?
I’ve also seen too many movies where shrinks ask you that question. Journalists also like it. Poetry is about feelings about good and bad things.
It is about feelings that make you feel like a baby elephant whose mother was killed by poachers; about the fish that were left without water because the sea suddenly disappeared during the tsunami in Asia; about birds without a home when trees are cut down for yet another condo building or feelings when someone special says I need my space.
Always have a pen and paper ready at your desk or kitchen table. That beautiful way of putting your feelings will drift away and you won’t find it when you think you want to compose your poem.
Of course, you can jot down some lines on your cellphone as you wait your turn at the grocery store.
The title of the poem is the easiest part because you just saw a dead dog on the highway and its body remind you of something about this thing called life.
You saw a rainbow yesterday after a very long time and have thoughts about its colours. Your mind has been as dark as a disused coalmine lately, because of wars that use 12 year-old boys as soldiers and girls of the same age as sex slaves.
Your thoughts might also come when you think about somebody and you smile, somebody who feels right and calls you when you are just about to press speed dial on your phone.
Write all this down. You will edit later. Other poems will come crisp and clean and you won’t have to do anything to them, no matter how many times you read them.
Poetry Support Groups
Birds of the same feather flock together so join a support group. Leave out your family for now and concentrate on friends or people you always bump into in the library or baseball practice. Support group members meet in person to help each other with many aspects of writing.
Start a poetry/writing group if you don’t belong to one already.
Decide how often you will meet, probably fortnightly.
Bring a new poem to every meeting.
Read poems. Don’t ask the poet what she thought when she wrote hers. She must ask you what it invokes in you. It is no longer her work. Published poetry belongs to the world. Who cares what the poet thinks? It is out of your hands.
Organise fun things like group walks into the woods. You’ll be amazed at what a leaf trapped in between two stones in a stream will trigger in your poetic mind.
Group members must understand that you will publish a book at the end of each year. E-book? I don’t know. I like real books, especially for public readings. This will give group members focus, a destination, or a goal for their writing.
Nonqaba waka Msimang is a poet and author of Sweetness the Novel.