ikeogu oke//abuja writers forum


had a wonderful time at the abuja writers forum event last night with performance poet Ikeogu Oke. yesterday's evening began with the national anthem and a song by guitarist PJ, with an art interlude by university of uyo-trained painter millicent osumo. oke read (and sang, quite surprisingly) from his volume of poetry, salutes without guns, selected one of the 2010 books of the year by the times literary supplement.

i found him to be a passionate artist moved by love, light and music. in response to a question posed by an audience member, about why nigerian poets seem so angry, he said something that so resonated with me that i've decided to post it (in near entirety) here. please enjoy and share as you wish. and do visit abuja writers forum online and on facebook to find out more about the guest writers series and weekly critique sessions for budding writers. --AL.

"A work of poetry, of literature, is first of all a work of beauty. You can be angry, but you have to be angry in a beautiful way. The problem is that [Nigerian] poets tend to be more skilled in expressing anger than expressing beauty. [Ideally] you read a poem and you see the anger, and you don't feel the anger; beauty is something that strikes you, anger does not. The anger has to be handled constructively so that what emerges is not a work of anger but a work of beauty. Fine if they are angry, they should be angry, but they should not inflict us with works that are not beautiful.

I think love is one of the best emotions that we can produce. Some of my love poems are the best I've ever written. But you can't write about love if you're not a lover. If your love is sincere; write about that love. If your anger is sincere; write about that anger. But don't ever forget that you're writing to create a work of beauty that will survive the anger. Love and anger are ephemeral emotions, but beauty is something that lasts forever." -- Poet Ikeogu Oke, Author of Salutes Without Guns

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