Stop…Collaborating and Listen!

1. You were tempted to sing the title.

2. Nope, this actually isn’t a fun post. It’s a semi-rant.

Ever since I stepped into the world of spoken word poetry (which actually wasn’t that long ago), I have been approached a number of times to be asked for my contact. (I see you laughing already. I’m not finished.) Of course, this could be due to many things. For one thing, I’m female. Who knows if that’s a contributing factor? LOL Can you really tell in this era? Another possibility is that maybe I sounded like I’d be a nice friend, so people just want to keep in touch with me so they can be friends with me. I dare say that will lead to disappointment, because I’m so bad at keeping up with people. There are probably others but…what I really want to talk about are the people whose first words out of their mouths/ on the Whatsapp chat include the word “collab.”

Sigh.

Every time somebody proposes the idea to me now after having just met me, I heave a mental sigh.

Allow me to make a distinction. I have no problem with people who want me to perform with/for them, people who want me to contribute to an event, program or whatever, or people who want to help me, or give me poetic advice. Those guys are super cool. What I don’t like is the people who have never seen me before (like, in person), only heard me like once, and suddenly, are on about collaborations. (I literally sighed right after I wrote that.)

Since I began spoken word poetry, I have only ever collaboratively written a poem with one person. And even that one, it’s because he’s my best friend and we’re cool like that. Artistic buddies and what not. The thing is that, we’ve known each other long enough and know we have enough things in common that we can write together with a unifying theme, which we BOTH believe in. And in so doing, we are able to come up with a work of art that genuinely resonates with both of us.

But dear sir/madam, if you don’t know me, and you don’t know what I believe in, and I don’t know you, or what you believe in, then how in Hecate’s name are we going to sit down and write poetry together? What if, halfway through, I discover that I completely hate you and never want to speak to you again?

Did you know that the human trait I value most in the world is friendship? It’s so, so deep for me. Deeper than wanting the publicity that another person brings, deeper than moulding your words and compromising on mine. Chale, what is art?

Please, let’s all be original, okay? Let’s do collaborations for the sake of the mutual pleasure in the topic and the art. Thank you very much.

So, in this post, I have run the risk of appearing like an arrogant would-be who thinks that she has “gotten there” and so has “grown wings.” LOL. Please. I have an inferiority complex, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. But seriously, I’m just a principled person, and so I don’t know how to handle this stuff. If I tried to do it, it would go against my very nature, and I’ll just get really moody and start to hate myself, so I’d rather just air my feelings out and not collaborate at times when the spirit of poetry (shout-out to Apollo!) doesn’t move me.

-Akotowaa

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