Are we mirrors of out time?
I ask myself every time I write a poem, every time I converse with someone from outside, are we (Lesotho poets) the mirrors of our time? Is our poetry a verbal documentary of how governments rule our country and hence the impacts of all corners of our lives? This questions I ask quickly takes me to ask, what is the role of poetry in society?
About two months ago via Poetry Farm’s Facebook page poetry fanatics had quite interesting response to the similar question that was posted on the page. To quote but a few:”advocacy and voices” interpreted otherwise these response simply mean among others verbally documenting the daily happenings of our time, basically our experiences.
In a book called The Province of Poetry, under the heading Poetry and experience, the author puts it simply and intelligently, “the poet like the painter (also musician), is concerned with naming human experiences. Basically, it is his own experiences the poet attempts to name, and he does so partly to control the experience, to keep it from destroying any part of his world.” Obviously poets write about their experiences, but how many are writing about their bad experiences with say corporate governance then?
In his blog post entitled Facing our demons (dated Tuesday, July 07 2009) Nana Fredua-Agyeman; a Ghanaian Agricultural Economist and poet says “ It is a fact that every country has its own problems. Be it humanitarian, unemployment, jobs losses, accidents, rush-hour, murders, developing countries are not alone and so definitely is Ghana is not alone. However, what makes ours a topic to discuss are the causes of the problems” I feel the same statement still applies here in Lesotho, it is not the problems we talk about at such but rather the causes of such problems.
In a conversation with one member of the prominent Lesotho poetry collective Poetry Farm, I got a small idea of why maybe Lesotho poets are reluctant to talk about these type of issues. “If one were to talk about these type of issues in Lesotho I assure you we wouldn’t finish because almost everything about Lesotho is disheartening and disappointing” he said.
I pray I am not misunderstood here, I am merely asking a question not making a firm statement that Lesotho poets don’t talk about these issues. One may therefore ask, as to what triggered this question or maybe what has been my observance. As a poetry coordinator for a free Lesotho weekly tabloid, a reporter spokesperson for Poetry Farm and a poet I have been to many poetry shows, have read many local poems, have listened to many poets’ radio interviews I can safely say I have seldom heard of such poems.
Also the implication here is not that poets need to write about these issues only but one can only wonder, “how much information can people learn from our poems ten years later, about say, the state of affairs in the country”? In the same book, The province of poetry, the author continues to say “The poet writes for himself, but since he is a person, he writes also for all people”. My personal understanding of the statement is that though our poetry maybe for ourselves, we also write for other people and hence also about other issues besides our own personal experiences
How many of our poets (including myself) wrote something down and even spoke about say the banning of local music on the state-owned Ultimate fm and many other pressing issues of our time?
These article was inspired by Core Wreckah’s Enuff Shouts track, his banning of local music on Ultimate fm article on the Corporate Nemesis blog.