Jumoke Verissimo, author of the celebrated poetry collection, ‘I am Memory’ has begun a poetry workshop in collaboration with WriteHouse Collective.The workshop is a monthly project supported by PEN Nigeria Centre. The maiden edition of the workshop was held Saturday, August 16 at the NuStreams Conference Centre, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Verissimo is interested in improving the process and form of new Nigerian poetry as well as trying to correct the usual flaws in the works of emerging poets. For the editor and researcher, it is about ‘giving back’ to society.
Verissimo said that “the workshop will be practical and interactive unlike the academic and that it will help a lot of writers conquer the illusion called writer’s block”.
At the event, she discussed the impetus of a poet, saying, “You must be inventive and you owe to the world to create a word before you leave.
“Poetry is everywhere; what people lack is the patience to observe, the tenacity to think deeply about ideas and to improve on their linguistic abilities.”
Verissimo touched on the basic terminologies of poetry that help a poet morph sounds from language. She noted that that the English language suffers from a handicap of sounds and therefore advised the class to borrow from the rich tonalities of our indigenous languages whenever necessary.
Reading from the books, “Poems of Black Africa” edited by Wole Soyinka, “A Selection of African Poetry” edited by Theo Vincent, and her own, “I am Memory,” she described the craft of the individual poem’s language, ideation and the subtle use of terminologies.
“Good poetry is like listening to a proverb from a young person. People respect those who think, and when you use words differently, you begin to see life differently.”
As part of the workshop, participants were asked to create lines using the whiteboard as reference.
The facilitator also spoke on the place of experience in the creation of poetry, she said “Some people like Derek Walcott wrote a lot about the sea, distance and emigration”, meanwhile “many African poets have read a lot of political poems and often times got stuck on them” yet, “you can find other themes that are peculiar to their works.”
“You can find the ‘Ogunnian’, ‘you can find a JP Clark and his metaphors of the environment’, a lot of city chaos in Odia Ofeimun’s work, Womanhood in Lola Shoneyin’s poetry, and a lot of introspection in Afam Akeh’s poetry.”
The next edition of the poetry workshop comes up on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at the NuStreams Conference Centre, Iyaganku Road, off Alalubosa GRA, Ibadan.
As the project progresses, a host of other established poets will be invited to contribute to the workshop.