Naseeba Babale is the secretary of Poetic Wednesday Initiative—the leading poetry promotion organization in the north..
What is so special about being a poet? What is it in poetry that makes it art for the “elites”? So what if you are a poet? You are a poet, but how does that save the world? These are questions that people, including poets themselves, ask.
The debate on the sacredness or ordinariness of poetry and poets is an old one. For some people, being a poet does not in any way make you different from any other person. In essence, you are just like the children playing, oblivious of the uncertainties of life; you are like the lawyer filled with angst over what the judge’s ruling will be on his case; you are like the beggar on the street, unsure of the source of his next meal; you are like the teacher pondering over the best methods to teach his students.
For others, being a poet confers on you some sort of supernatural prowess. Hence, it makes you extraordinary, different, special, even godly. To these people, being a poet is a blessing, a special endowment. So, as a poet, you are the being that sees meaning where others do not see anything; you understand the language spoken by nature; the words hidden in the faces of clouds; the message delivered by the whistling of the breeze; the tales laden in the sound of rain as it hits the earth. You are that person that connects to earth. You can feel its cries and its wails and the stories it tells. You can understand the sound of silence and the silence that sits in the loudest of sounds. To them, you are the only person that comprehends life.
There are yet others that see you as a madman. To them, being a poet makes you a worthless lunatic that is under the illusion that he has sense. To them, your place is in a bed in the restricted areas of a mental facility. You are the crazy person that thinks there is something special about the moon other than that it absorbs light from the sun and send it to earth at night. You are the idiot that think the sun smiles, or that the earth has stories to tell. You are the senseless person that is under the illusion that there is a deeper meaning to life other than we are born, we grow old and we die. To them, poetry is just the rantings of a madman who is listened to by an even madder audience that feel there is something special about his madness. To them, you are the stupid person that calls hallucinations ‘inspiration’ and even wastes time writing them down.
Then there is a group that pities you. They see you as a preacher seeking salvation for wretched souls drowning in sin. They see you as the person trying to solve a problem for people that do not even know they have a problem that needs to be solved. A painter helplessly trying to create a portrait for those completely blind to the beauty of what he does. The usher trying to keep order in people lost in the rapture of their chaos. The dreamer that thinks he can save the world with the power of his words.
Do not forget those who see you as the arrogant brat that believes he is better than all. You are the student that knows nothing but believes he understands things better than his professors. You are the one that goes about bragging about your abilities when in fact you cannot do a thing. You are the narcissist that thinks the world centers around you and that poetry is the only real thing in the world.
You are a poet, but so what if you are?