It Is Not Poetry

If it were as easy as
Writing full sentences –
badly punctuated, inaccurately structured sentences –
and splitting them into
different lines before we reach a full stop;
If it were as easy as
Writing love poetry when you think you’re in love,
And losing respect for the craft
When the crush blows over;
If it were as easy as demanding acclaim
For words you won’t bother to check the spelling of;
If I could tap out lines
for five minutes straight on my phone
then press “post”;
If I could be comfortable with not knowing
the difference between “their” and “they’re”;
If I was proud of thinking “you”
is equivalent to the letter “u,”
If it were as easy as
Being content in my mediocrity
Or blissfully unaware of it altogether,
I, like you, would hold no respect for this thing that people insist on calling an art.

If it were enough,
to produce and not absorb,
If it were fine to read a book a year,
If it were acceptable to not care
about “poetry” till the day I produce it
and never again afterwards;
If I considered words a luxury –
one that I do not have time for –
If I thought it was tedious to stroke a spine with tenderness,
Finger each sheet from cover to cover,
Have mental intercourse with the message an author is putting across;
If I simply did not have time to measure metaphor, assimilate simile,
If I were to be a person who never recognizes literary devices;
If I Β never had interest in the works of others,
I, like you, would hold no respect for this thing that people insist on calling an art.

And yet there must be a reason why
I write when I cry,
And why I recognize myself in the works of others.
There must be a reason why
I can cross out one line four times,
till I feel I have it perfect.
There must be a reason why it’s worth it.
There must be a reason why I revisit and memorize,
Why I can sit for hours on end,
trying to get fifteen lines right.
I’m sure you wonder why I ponder for so long
before I put words down,
Amazed when you see the number of cancellations on my manuscript,
Surprised when you find out I’ve had the time
to pick another’s poem to study when there’s no grade riding on it.
You wonder why
I get excited when I find a literary device I like.
If I were the kind of person who spent no time trying to perfect this craft,
If I were the type that thought anything could pass;
If I were the type that thought technicalities were trivialities,
Then I too would hold in high esteem what I would like to think deserves to be classified as this thing that people insist on calling an art.

If irony were as easy as
Writing full sentences
and separating them into lines;
If irony were as easy as
using the word itself twice,
just so you could understand my point;
If irony were as easy as
insulting your “poetry” with “poetry,”
I would be as mad as those who hold no respect for this thing that people insist on calling an art.

18 thoughts on “It Is Not Poetry

  1. Between those lines phrases and words.. What people call poetry and some call an art.. I see something different.. Life, art, emotions, passion, breath, blessing and condemnation, judgement and forgiveness.. The post the present and the future all blend into one.
    A force as great as the volcanic eruptions of krakatoa, a tsunami or earthquake.. Yet the comes of a gentle breeze and the purity of fresh snow of a hill..I am no poet, this my disorganised style.. But in between that, I hope I make a point… It’s bit just art… It’s a FORCE OF NATURE in words

  2. There was a time that I’d wanted to write about this issue of what poetry is and what it’s not. I think the best I could come up with was two titles–one as an article and the other as a poem titled in a similar way…*thinks about this for a second and waves it away: but isn’t a poem an article?*

    There were several things that discouraged me from going ahead with those works; the label of pseudointellectualism and the never-ending debate of one trying to prove their points without any real progress but rather multiplying one’s frustrations.

    It’s an interesting work you have up there. I’m not really sure if I want to give my detailed thoughts on the work but all I can say is that there are some wonderfully deliberate creative lines. Such lines–like the one about irony–somewhat emphasizes what I think about this issue of “breaking up lines” of words to make it “look” like poetry, that this issue is deeper than what if may seem like (*it’s bigger than hiphop* as I’ve come to like saying off late concerning things that have more to it that we see).

    But I guess I couldn’t suppress those two works forever because I believe it expressed itself eventually in a poem I wrote this year which I even performed (by reading) at Poetry Nites with the Rainmakers (May edition; “Poetic May”).

    It’s a legitimate concern that some works may not be poesy worthy but I believe I’ve observed this issue for a while to share some insight into it and what I can say for now is that ‘it’s bigger than hiphop’ πŸ™‚

      1. Well… on Thursday, 3rd September 2015 at Goethe Institut, Cantonments during the 7th Annual Ehalakasa Festival you heard it (finally). πŸ˜€

      2. Oh no! You actually had to count the days?!

        Well, it’s not like I also didn’t do some counting myself 😌; counting the months just sufficed for me.

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