Poetry has for long been perceived as merely art, and not a business, especially in Rwanda. “It is easy to dismiss poetry as having no direct application to business. In the oft-asked leadership question, “what will this do for me?” the answer isn’t directly clear,” wrote Stephanie Denning in Forbes Magazine Although most people can accept a budding connection between poetry and advertising, they tend to be sceptical that reading or listening poems and experiencing the process of getting to grips with their possible meaning can be of help in business. So, what place does poetry have in a business? Diana Mpyisi, founder of Spoken Word Rwanda, which for 10 years now has served as a platform for many poetic talents, shares her thoughts on poetry’s place in business. “Poetry can be commodified; I believe that there is money to be made through poetry and it can also be made through a business venture. We see this happening all over the world. We see poets coming together for festivals and creating content that is turned into a business. The world is nothing without culture and poetry is an avenue of expressing and maintaining culture. It can definitely be monetized,” she said. Mpyisi added that in the past, poets recommended by Spoken Words Rwanda or even on their own, whenever they were called for high profile events, festivals or private events, organisers listened to their request to be paid. “As someone who has a poetry platform, I am ensuring that poetic talent is paid for. In Rwanda, this is a field that has been growing slowly. Even Covid-19 stopped that because the events are no longer physical.” There was a recognition of rewarding talents by government initiatives, she continued, where they pay poets and also by international NGOs that host poets at the events. Moreover, she said that there is still a long way to go but is glad that people no longer undermine poetry. “People no longer call poets to perform for exposure; very few people do and that’s a shame because the poet cannot eat exposure or pay bills from it,” she said. Junior Rumaga, one of the leading poets in Rwanda said that poetry has a place in business because it is an art for creatives who use critical thinking and that most businesses excel due to creativity and innovation. “There are ways to use poetry in business. Giving a name to a business such as Inyange or Nyirangarama, that’s poetic art and it’s a business. But because we haven’t gotten an equitable way of doing that, most people don’t take poetry as a business,” he said. “Today in Rwanda, it hasn’t become a business yet. We could be benefitting from different art-selling platforms but we dont have enough poetic works. We haven’t reached a situation where poets release poems consistently, start appearing on adverts, make a cooperative and so on. These factors don’t favour poets to make money.” What we are doing, he continued, is like investment that hasn’t proved how we will earn, but we benefit people because every business needs demand so that you can supply. “We are creating those who will buy our works in the future and hence we will know what we need in order to supply our market. We need to see if our inactivity can cause our audience hunger so that when they need our work, they can go to a specific site to buy them,” he said. Mustapha Kayitare, the co-founder and communication manager at Transpoesis said that making a business through poetry is possible but hard because there are no investors and that makes it tough for a poet to make a living by doing poetry. However, he continued, what’s possible is like when Transpoesis, host competitions and showcases young poetic talents which builds their confidence and compels them to use their talent in a different way. “For example, we have showcased Yasipi Casmir who became the first runner-up in Miss Rwanda 2019, Tuyisenge who became a good MC, Kivumbi 1k who became an artiste and many others,” he said. “That’s where poetry is; you can get an opportunity to do something else by using poetry as a passage, but poetry on its own hasnt started providing for its makers yet.” “But if investors are present like in music,” he added, “business is possible but the challenge is still that Rwandans haven’t embraced poetry yet. If we get support, we can get more people,” he said. Carine Maniraguha, a poetess and the winner of Art Ubuhanzi in poetry and literature section said that poetry for now, can work as business through performances where a poet can perform at different events to get paid. “Poetry can earn a poet some money but not as much because some people don’t care about poetry. But for those who understand it, it can even work better than music or any other art because poets are stronger in writing and speaking that even in advertising, a poet can do better than anyone else,” she said. “Again, poetry is a good way of conveying a message to people figuratively so that they can think about it deeply. If a poet advertises a product, they can go deep into details, instead of just talking about what it is. And that’s how poetry can be used in business,” she said.