Poetry is not every body’s plate of food. It is a written expression of emotion or ideas in an arrangement of words or verse most often rhythmically. Poems are just not the written rhythmical verses that only a few humans have had the privilege to be able to write. It is in music, speeches, and even in the bible. The poem is vast living thin that changes form and faces but still succeeds to stay alive.
Rappers, priests and pastors and even politicians use poems as their preferred method of putting their message across, to very good effect. Most of all, the most common form of poetry is one that targets to communicate romantic intentions or expressions.
Poems can be classified into several different genres, including narrative, epic, dramatic, satirical, lyric, and prose poetry. For some, it is a joy; something that is done for the sheer pleasure of putting beautiful words to paper. For others, it is a nightmare, but poetry is art that can be totally leant. In fact many people have once at a time written a poem without even knowing. For the younger romantics, it may be in a love letter. For the leaders, it may have been a speech, for the aspiring musicians it may have been a song, even a rap song.
A poet needs to have his or her style. Style isn’t how you write. It’s how you do not write like anyone else. You don’t need a degree to be a writer. It doesn’t take a school or a master’s degree in fiction writing to show you how to write. One learns how to write by writing and by reading good stuff just like in the rest of writing.
There are many types of poetry for one to dabble in. The ballad is the type of poetry that is most often associated with song and most often tells a story, and has a chorus or refrain that is usually repeated at the end of each stanza.
The sonnet is typically comprised of fourteen lines in a strict rhyming scheme. The free verse is written free from the proper rules about form, rhyme, rhythm or meter that many of the other forms of poetry are bounded by. This freedom of style allows the use of a great deal of imagination on the ways to express feelings or emotions about the chosen topic. This is the type associated with modern day free style rappers.
Famous poets the world over include of course William Shakespeare who produced sonnets that every poet dreams of writing some day and he is perhaps the greatest of all time. Others are Rabindranath Tagore who wrote Gitanjali which gave him the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, better known as T.S. Eliot, is arguably the greatest American poet of all time. Oscar Wilde was one of the greatest Victorian poets and perhaps the most quoted after Shakespeare.
Closer to home, Okot p’Bitek was a Ugandan poet, who achieved wide international recognition for Song of Lawino, a long poem dealing with the tribulations of a rural African wife whose husband has taken up urban life and wishes everything to be westernized.
Song of Lawino was originally written in Acholi language, and self-translated to English, and become one of the most widely read literary works originating from Sub-Saharan Africa. It was followed by the pendant Song of Ocol (1970), the husband’s reply.
Taban lo Liyong, controversial friend and critic of Bitek is also one of the liveliest figures on the African literary scene published his translation into English of Okot p’Bitek’s Acholi poem, Wer pa Lawino as Defence of Lawino in 2001.
Traditionally, Africa has had a long history of poetry. Rwanda’s literary heritage includes myths, folk tales, proverbs and poems which convey stories, moral lessons and history through oral tradition. The Rwandan court traditionally trained young nobles in the composition and performance of songs and poems celebrating heroism in warfare and the possession of cattle. In the days of the old, storytelling sometimes used call-and-response techniques, a form of Poetry itself. Praise poems were also recited to rulers and other prominent people.
Though traditional poetry has been preserved, modern African poetry if often a mesh of traditions and western styles of poetry.
Aspiring poets will be glad to know that poetry has no rules. Inspiring ideas can strike anywhere and rhyming is not a condition but is a welcome addition if it occurs. Poetry demands persistence, revision, hard work, and its brevity does not mean simplicity. If anything it stands for complexity. Remember, avoid overused clinches and target to be a fresh voice.
One needs a strong inspiration, with which your thoughts are sure to flow freely on a paper. Use your imagination and do not restrict yourself to a particular style Write what you feel like writing and the art will grow.