Poetry is all around us but hardly noticed because it is considered to be a private affair. This was the verdict of the audience who gathered at the premises of Bookville World in Port Harcourt on 10th February 2018 to celebrate literary works, which have been infused with a quality of beauty and intensity that evokes emotions. For example, it was observed that the Nigeria National Anthem containing two verses that were sung at the start of the event though laden with ‘laudable ideals and a prayer’ is a piece of poetry.
Apart from several performances spanning numerous themes by the Word Phantoms of the University of Port Harcourt and individual members of the Seaview Poetry Club, Greg Iredia, Thankgod Enyi, Dakeprim Fredrick, Joseph Bright and some others gave recitals during the ‘Open Mic’ sessions. In between presentations, feedback and comments from the audience were taken and interestingly, animated conversations one of which led to an issue that remained unresolved, ensued. There is a lot of burden placed on writers and entertainers to change the world. The question was whether the writer has a responsibility to change society…why are we not holding people in other spheres of life accountable as well? “I don’t think it is fair to put the burden of changing society on writers”, because most writers just write about what interests them, someone noted. While some persons held onto this view, others were of the opinion that since artists including writers, poets, musicians and entertainers tend to influence society, they have a moral obligation to change it.
Nevertheless, away from the somewhat intellectual discourse, the experience of the entertainment element of the evening proved to add fresh stimuli to the senses of those present. The last act, Biopko West’s – Ama la la kurobo, was suggestive of what Ngugi Wa Thiong’O (Kenyan author, activist and academic) referred to as using African languages to talk about urban experiences. And Taiwo Onesi Dominic, despite expertly facilitating the poetry show also delighted the audience with his Cold Dry Harmattan Night.