Journalist and culture entrepreneur, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, has recently published an essay on the state of Nigerian poetry. Published in WRR.ng, here are excerpts:
A boy is not always a butterfly & our mothers are not all moons: What is happening to Nigerian poetry?
“If you ask me this question, I would say Growth and, sadly, Homogeneity are happening hand-in-hand. I will explain what I mean with a little backstory. Once upon a time, it was easy to separate poet from poet. Of course, there were not that many poets at the time. Still, originality formed an identity for most. I could read Su’eddie Vershima Agema’s poem without the title and guess he wrote it just as I could read Dami Ajayi, Oyin S. Oludipe and others.
Then came the revolution fired by all of us, and poetry became a mainstream art in Nigeria. The industry grew rapidly – GROWTH! With this growth came a widening of our audiences and on the heel of that something started – I have decided to call it the homogenization of poetry – which I do not think is good.
A few years ago, our poetry established a strong connection with international audiences – with fantastic poets like Romeo Oriogun and Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau on the forefront championing new styles and forms. International journals beamed their lights upon our poetry and, as our poets flooded into the circle of light, many were so much in a hurry that they left themselves behind. They sought shortcuts to literary greatness in the poems written by the ‘winning poets’ and decided to choreograph the words, themes, styles and forms.
We are in the era of poetry-Michael-Jackson wannabes, attempting to moonwalk with verses without first knowing how to move.”
Complete reading here