Poetry deserves more attention - Poets say

BY: Gifty Owusu-Amoah
Poets call for more attention for poetry sector
Poet Oswald Okaitei

World Poetry Day was observed on Saturday, March 21 and while the world over would have celebrated the day with a number of events, that couldn't happen because of the outbreak of the coronavirus which has halted public gatherings.

In Ghana, the President has placed a ban on public events and though the directive may have caused discomfort for players in the poetry fraternity, it presented a good opportunity for them to reflect on their craft, its challenges and the way forward.

Some of them spoke with Graphic Showbiz and expressed mixed feelings about how the craft is faring in Ghana.

In the view of poet/spoken word artist Rhyme Sonny, poetry has gone through many phases and is making a good impression in the creative arts sector but was not enjoying much attention.

"Over the years in Ghana, poetry has won many hearts in the background of arts. Her sense of fashion has embraced both local and international palettes yet in our current dispensation, she continues to evolve and recreate without getting the needed attention of the people she serves and loves.

“Poetry lends herself to music, movies, stories and much more. In Ghana, however, she is relegated to the background in open mic performances and a poetry event here or there with little attendance.

"The past few years have seen poets come together in efforts to start an association to help move poetry in the direction and path it ought to be on. This, hopefully, will aid in publicity and improvement of content in poems and creative works.

"We have come of age, there are so many young people in poetry. We may not be at the top but we are making some progress but  that will not be possible if we don't get more support from all quarters.

“There are so many people in poetry with the various schools being grooming places but unfortunately, we are not getting so much support despite working hard," he said.

Another poet, Oswald Okaitey said poetry was gradually taking shape and finding its space in the arts despite the insufficient support.

"We may not be where we aim to be but poetry is taking shape and finding its space in the country, in terms of job creation and relevance in our day-to-day activities. It's growing from the page status to being a showbiz item and again, we must be informed that poetry now pays," he noted.

For Emperor, although the youth are venturing into poetry, there was little help and interest among the masses.

"Events are scattered all over the place with pocket groups because everyone is doing their own thing. That is why the Jubilee Projections International(JUPI) introduced its Walk The Group session at the University of Ghana, Legon, every year to unite these groups and also commemorate World Poetry Day,” he said.

World Poetry Day was adopted during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999. According to the UN, one of the main objectives of the day was to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.