• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Poetry still offers sustainable career for today’s budding writers


In today’s world where most youths go after blue-chip jobs and aspire to live life in the fast lane, writing can offer a sustainable career and fulfilling life, including the poetry genre.

This is part of the views of some literary stakeholders, who further called on the government to support Nigerian writers, especially young authors with platforms, initiatives and creative hubs that can serve as springboards for career growth.

The stakeholders’ call is coming as the Nigerian literary community joins others on March 21, 2022 to celebrate World Poetry Day.

First celebrated on March 21, 2000, the World Poetry Day focuses on promoting a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, as well as strengthening the association between poetry and other forms of expression, such as dance, music, and painting.

Today, across the world and in Nigeria, the day is celebrated with poetry festivals and events, online and offline. People also post and talk about poetry and their favourite poets today.

Speaking on the relevance of poetry as a literature genre and sustainable career for many, Udeka Ndibe, a writer and Commonwealth researcher, noted that most African literary icons rose to global prominence through their writings, especially poems and novels.

Read also: ‘The Lilt Of The Rebel’ wins 2022 PAWA Poetry Prize

“From the pioneers such as J.P Clark, Christopher Okigbo, Gabriel Okara to contemporary poets like Odia Ofeimun, Niyi Osundare, Tade Ipadeola and to the millennial writers, poets have lived on their career accept if the person is not committed to his/her poetry calling. None among them is poor, they all lived fulfilled lives and today’s poets can live even better, though they need support”, Ndibe said.

He further noted that in developed world such as Brussels, Belgium, where he is based, the government and private sector have platforms that support writers and enable them to hone their talents and offer their best and amazing creative ingenuity always.

Explaining the relevance of poetry today and why the genre should be supported, Toni Kan, a Nigerian writer, noted that the poetry genre is alive and well because poetry enables people, many times, to say what might be unsayable in prose and it does this in its economic use of words, use of imagery and figures of speech.

On the prospects of a sustainable career in poetry, he said, “I don’t know about people living on poetry because very few people live off their writing if you think about it, but we have poets who are well respected who are gainfully employed as academics just like their counterparts who are novelists or dramatists. Professor Osundare and Tanure Ojaide come to mind easily. So, yes you can advance in your literary career as a poet.”

Kan further assured that the future of poetry is bright in Nigeria. “We are seeing poets making a good living from their performances. They travel all over the world, sell out shows and you know live the rock star life if you will. Life is dynamic and poetry is getting a makeover in the new generation. I believe that poetry has a bright future in Nigeria and don’t forget this year the NLNG prize is focusing on poetry. Once a new laureate is minted there will be some renewed interest in poetry”, he said.

Apart from proceeds from sales, Nigerian poets are being recognized and rewarded for their creative works as academia and through prize money from poetry awards such as Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Poetry Prize, the ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize, Brittle Paper Poetry Prize, The Nigeria Prize for Literature and other international poetry prizes such as the Tchicaya U Tam’si Poetry Prize, Brunel International African Poetry Prize and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, among others.

This year, The Nigeria Prize for Literature is going for poetry with a $USD100,000 prize for the winner.

As well, many poets have won the prize instituted by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas company and were empowered. They include; Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry, Chants of a Minstrel (co-winner, 2005, poetry); Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments; and Ikeogu Oke with his collection of poetry, The Heresiad; (2017, poetry).

More importantly, Kukogho Ireusiri Samson, publisher of Authorpedia, sees a brighter future for poetry in Nigeria as an experiment on May 30, 2020, resulted in the discovery of 10 budding poets who he published free of charge.