The Five Basic senses of Poetry c/o #sitawapoetry

9:37:00 PM

Concentrating on beadwork at the Sawa Sawa festival workshop
Pray you are all having a blast this Saturday evening, the match that has everyone is on about and well Sarakasi's Sawa Sawa Festival. I think I grew old long ago or just do not have a night owl taste in my glands, I cannot remember the last time I was out lol ok it was new year's eve, I was in Kisumu as a guest of Zawadi, Kit Mikayi was a beautiful place before that was early last year when I used to share a house with the world's awesomest boys (none of whom was my boyfriend) yes I was an avid football,note the word 'was' and I was a member at the local, I have been so busy it seems like another lifetime.

Back to life, back to realty
Before this deja vu, there was a reality, there was the second part of Series 3 of Getting Poetic with Sitawa. Today we learnt about the five basic senses of poetry ok that is the title of the blog post not the afternoon lesson.
Every poem should have a sense of each of the following or at least some of these senses.
a) Style
Remember your highschool literature class; alliteration, allusion, personification, defamiliarization, dialogue et al. In the piece we did in part 1 of this series, White Comedy by Benjamin Zephania, defamiliarization was his thing and he did it justice, using it to bring out themes, my piece A little more, uses repetition as the main style with the words a little more repeated in every line and still bringing out a theme. Try using a style you are in awe of, do justice to it and bring out a theme or two, now that it art.

b) Characters
This was the main topic of the first part where we used Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka, my Nigerian Poetry papa. The characters in the poem brought out style and theme. Read more in the post Telephone Conversation.

c) Plot
aka flow of events. This is simply what is happening in the poem. If you want to go all the way with plot you can use the short story formular; introduction, rising climax, climax, falling climax and the resolution. The beauty of poetry is you dont really have to follow the rules but it is paramount that you obey the law of the land, remember series 2?

d) Theme
Well what are you talking about. Some pieces have main themes and sub themes. When I wrote The Mayor of Cursed Bridge I had one man in mind and I guess I theme. We discussed that same piece this afternoon and disillusionment came out as theme. This was seen as a reflection of how African leaders cling onto power as if they were born with the seat. There was also a sub-theme of family life, the 'power' men have over their wives. So as a writer if you are writing a theme based poem, try to cover any holes that may lead the audience away from the message you are trying to pass to them.

e) Setting
Setting is either time or place. Some pieces are futuristic, others classic, others are in the here and the now. One of the people who came through today did a piece I was sure was futuristic until she told us that she visited Qatar and was accorded what we thought was a dream, to paraphrase her piece which she titled, Riverroad Nile Version, she walked at 2 with gold earrings and there was no theft, people offered her tea again and again with no strings attached. With River Road in mind, doesnt that setting sound very futuristic especially like me if you have read Going Down River Road by Meja Mwangi.

The Sixth Sense
It is said that humans have a sixth sense which is intuition, I say that poetry has a sixth sense too, it is the writer, the person who pieces the piece together. How you glue all these senses determines how grand your piece is. We did a short class exercise where all in attendance were to write something on random themes that they chose for each other making that the senses scream ok visible. They did it well given the length of time I had given them. If you would like to try this exercise, hit my email and I will give you a theme to do justice on.

Like all things in life, practise is key so get that poetry book and start writing. Also read other pieces and as you read try identifying these senses in the pieces. You will notice that some of the pieces have fewer senses and like in humans, these senses are way higher than those who have all senses.
I look forward to seeing your senseful pieces on platforms online and otherwise.

ION: I would like to send a big girl power shout out to fellow Kenyan poets and friends in writing and performing Ngwatilo Mawiyoo (@ngwatilo) author of Blue Mothertongue who carried the Kenyan flag high at Hifa and Wanjiku Mwaura (@wanjikumwaura) who will be gracing the Sawa Sawa Festival stage in a few.

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