Lessons from Essay Lessons.

When the bell ends school’s
petty prisons – rules, reasons –
Love and Life runs out to play…

– Aisha Nelson

The sun finds it fun to generously pour its radiance, through the window, onto a page of my exercise book. Perching at the top corners of the page are the constant Date and Exercise Number. Apart from these, this new page is blank. And I know better than to expect that only these constant-s, without writing the exercise proper, will fetch me a decent grade, any grade. I take much time and care to write the topic of the new exercise. Topic too, I know, still counts for nothing, no grade.

Riza, my friend, has long finished and submitted her work, one of those essays.

I’m forever far from finishing mine. I can’t even bring myself to begin writing. The thought of it:

How I spent my Christmas Holidays”!

IMG_20200129_170823_260

Picture mine: Eclipse, a painting by Kobina Bucknor, at the Ghana Museum of Science and Technology; December 9, 2019

How I wish the sun fills my near-blank page rather – the whole of my exercise book, actually – with Words. With beautiful Words. Beautiful but truthful Words. Words more truthful than they are beautiful. Many such words. Only such words. For I always tell myself not to lie. All my essays, including this one, which I am yet to even write, really need to be short.

This is because all there is to think and write about my recent Christmas holidays can be done in as much as a single lean paragraph. Any addition will be unnecessary, superfluous – a smudge, even, on my integrity. Anything short of or more than the plain truth will be a grave lie. To lie is something I am not to do, to not lie especially because of something as trivial as a grade, a better grade. So I believe.

Meanwhile, the street outside the classroom is bursting with so many stories outshouting each other for attention, shouting to be told, to be written, by anyone who cares to.

Ms *Enam Doe will not be able to mark all the stories if I and every other pupil are to care enough to write a lot less than half of those stories. Yet, she complains my essays are too short. On the previous page of my exercise book is one such exercise. Her red ink’s frozen scream under that last essay eternally reads,

 “This essay is too short, Enam. This must be the last of this kind!”

The last is long past. My turning over a new leaf is not only to write a new essay, but more importantly, to write one of appreciable length – at least, as deemed by my Grade Six Teacher.

“No offending Ms Enam Doe this time”, I mutter to myself.

So I set my **Bic on the first line of the page.

Slowly, I start. I finished my first sentence. But not without the expected drag. Little by teeny little, I write. And write on. One thoughtful word after the other, I filled the page with crisp, warm and fond pictures, moments and memories of my recent Christmas holidays. I was thankful to finally finish.

I shut my eyes for a few seconds. I let myself dream of seeing my new page – my whole book, and even my desk – spilling with the many words I very recently poured…

My essay is set. It sits still, clean and lean on the page. It sits still and still several lines shy and short of half the new page.

And even before Ms Enam Doe’s red ink will add its voice, the blank larger half of the page screams the wretchedness of my mere scratch and funny toil of an essay. The scream rumbles and doubles. The scream fires and crackles sparks and thunders on my poor page. Methinks I even feel my desk quake with all the turmoil.

I watch on, helplessly, as the rumblings scatter my poor essay. The tongues of fires, they hungrily lick my already-lean and now-scattered essay away. Then the rumblings, now full and fat from eating my essay, sport a sly smile, give a guttural belch, wail one long yawn. Stretching its tiny limbs and making to take a nap on my page, the bloated ball of rumblings burst…

The mess from the burst splashes on my sad long face, spills over and into the rest of my book, hangs thick above my desk.  My face falls. My head remains bowed in shame, a shame I can’t readily account for.

Save my face I must. I sit. Upright. Still.

But I don’t write. I can’t bring myself to write. Not anymore. Not yet. Not again. Not for this essay.

I look outside from my desk by the classroom window. That side of the world is bubbling with vast numbers and weights of life-s and promises. The stories on the street are now leaping off everyone and everything. The stories are wandering frantic, peeping here and there, wearing fragile half smiles, prancing down and up everywhere. The stories are tugging along and bumping into everyone and everything and themselves, begging and hoping, insisting and waiting. To be written. Or to be told.

To just put on the temporal…

*

Eager traffic lights and drowsy street lights
blink dawn off their metal-gilded brows.

Towering bill boards and
patches of dew-studded grass glance
beneath and beyond them. With glee.

Low drones of engines from all ends
embrace distant hums of some church organ.

keen conductors
tucked in windows of moving vehicles. 
keener hawkers. 
Outshout, outrun each other.

Breeze heaves past, weaving
through throbbing background and noise.

Wind whistles through
kites tattered and tangled and caught up
tall on soulless poles.

Colour-filled smells of breakfasts linger and vanish
in between the thick and trickle of people and other…

Warm human
bodies and bottles of
chilled water and drinks and such
sweat with heat and cold and both.

LoveCokctail 6

Picture mine: Angles and Gazes and Heights. – A picture of me, somewhere in Accra, Ghana; September 30, 2018.

Time ticks. Time fidgets under blankets of
humid air. Humid air hangs at every end of the street.

A quick push there. A shove.
A crisp pull here.
A crash. And then, a thud.

Skyscrapers stand scattered,
grinning their morning greetings to high clear skies.

Spells of rain showers
soothe and refresh and smooth
aches and wilts and frays.

Groceries
sprout on tables under sheds.

A
shuffle hardens into a walk. A
jog eases into a walk. A
jog grinds into a saunter. A
stop springs into a saunter. A
stop revs into a run. A
shuffle breaks into a run…

Souvenirs
shine anew on shelves in shops.

Honks and horns
screech each
other to hoarse stops.

Sun peeps from behind
billowy clouds sporting white toothless smile.

The street is a pool of people, street is dotted
with soft whirls. The street is awash with
happy hues, street sways to its own music.

Last glimmers of neon lights
fade past early shimmers of glass doors.

*

Good old Life glides past. Everywhere I look, stories abound.

And here I still am, sitting and thinking, labouring and wasting myself away, behind an essay which refuses to be written. I think harder by the seconds.  I search and turn my memory times and over, trying to find if there still is one tiny detail about my Christmas holidays which I may have forgotten.

Then, I can blow up this my new detail with words from that Word Class we learnt in the last Grammar Class: Adjectives, they call it.

IMG_20190726_225937_321

Featured Image: Picture mine: Fishermen at work; a canoe called ‘Good Name‘. somewhere at the seaside between James Town and Ussher For, both Ga Mashi, Accra, Ghana; July 26, 2019.

But then, there is my face to save and my teacher to make happy – and my-self too to make happy, since my teacher and I share a Name. Enam.

And this is how I also will outdo one of my Grande-Mother’s many sayings: I will ‘‘kill three – not just two birds with one stone.’’

Two years later, I’m in a new class in a new school, with a new teacher, having the same lesson – Essay Writing. It is a debate, this time.

I begin with an introduction, as Ms Boakye has taught me, and as I best know how. I begin with an introduction which excellently expressed my side of the motion and fully justified it. I combine truth and length well enough – or so I insisted on believing. That introduction should please any teacher, who should in turn, reward this my rare – if not unique – feat, ever since I began writing essays in school.

But I was to be surprised: I’ve outdone myself and the normal.

My introductory paragraph alone is two lines short of one page. I scan it. I read it. I skim it. I re-read it. I revise it. I proofread it. I review it. And I end up with the same essay and introduction, with same words and word count. For I find every word in there worth choosing, very much worth the inclusion.

And by so doing, I displease another teacher for the opposite of a previous offence: too short essays.

*         

It’s been many years since. If only I had understood those Essays as Compositions, I would not have thought of too many words as Lie-s.

And Oh! How I wish I had realized much earlier that too many words could as well be truth, beautiful truth.

Whether about the use of Adjectives or some other writer-ly style, one thing emerged from this whole experience: Modesty – not of the raw and rigid kind. I prefer to call it, Giftedness, or simply, Gift.

This Giftedness, It has never needed to save its owner’s face. Rather, It feeds her imagination and fills the pouring of her creations, It sharpens her outlook and adds life-colour to the fountain of her imagination.

This Giftedness effortlessly is. It intimately knows.

Through words, this Giftedness unfurls and flares out worlds beyond the mere now, worlds populated with personality, worlds loosened from locale, worlds forever far from the mundane. It is at once an exclusive sanctuary for all things too wondrous for the eloquence of words. It is a universe of possibilities upon infinities.

This Giftedness has a unique gift for everyone who encounters It.

This Giftedness does not kill one, two, three or more birds with one stone. Rather, like birds, It is free to soar the endless realms of the worlds of Words, soar and explore without the fear of room or restraint, without any fear of any kind.

IMG_20191221_170357_464

Flying despite the fear, into the face of the fear, past the fear: A picture of me taken by my nephew, Kofi – at the Ghana Museum of Science and Technology; December 20, 2019.

So I now soar and explore, I write my life-world away.

And while at it, I am all too glad to watch the sun generously pour itself into my bliss…

 

*   *   *

Love,

AishaWrites.

– Wednesday, January 29, 2020: Dansoman, Accra, Ghana.

***

Glossary:

*Enam is an Ewe name that means ‘Gift’ or specifically, ‘God/He gave It to me’.

** Bic is the trademark of a very popular brand of pen in Ghana.

An earlier version of this story was the second  of my and Phillis Wheatley‘s annual Chicken Soup publication.  

 

Of Cool Kids, Makola Market, Christmas Waits and Culled Worlds – Introduction: Student Writing (Part 1)

I have written briefly once and quite long and  several about Teacher me and the students who make that self of mine a living truth and reality.

I have mentioned and implied more time than many about how Writer me is never left behind in the life of Teacher me.

54524567_2257207160998437_5096748762865336320_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

But I may never be able to fully write or talk about the vast-s and weights of these two parts of me – the places where they smudge and pour into each other to soon become purely the other, the times they swell and swirl alongside each other and yet remain resolute in their uniqueness-es and their intersections and their molten mixed forms.

These I many never be able to find the words to write or talk about.

Teacher and Writer me, that is.

But I can talk about what happened while I was grading a quiz which I recently conducted for my current Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students.

I can say how I had to fight and free myself from an abiding personal ethic of not sharing any extract or chunk from, and full written work of any of my students, of not sharing such things with a community other than the class in question and outside of the (college end of  the) school where I teach.

And I can never say enough how sadly glad and glad again and far more so I am right now to come sharing…

At the moment, and because I am not able to imagine myself quitting teaching – or education, altogether, in the near future, in any future, my future – I cannot promise that this will be the first and only time I will be sharing only and fully student work, especially work I en-JOY!-ed being a part of its making and or was happy being a sudden spectator at the time of its making.

54433118_2257223480996805_901404843908792320_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

I cannot even pretend to make such a promise.

But I do know that I am proud of my students and I am happy and proud and again and more, to share four of the responses from said quiz with you, Reader Dear.

And in in order for you, Reader Dear, to read and see these work for the raw truth and story and unpretentious beauty and personality they each are, I thought to not:

  • make known the question or prompt which these work were responses to.
  • give any summary and description – no label whatsoever – of any of these work.

I must mention that I have spoken long and wide – including helping them write what will be their first author bios! – with the four students whose work I have selected for this series, and I have their consent and better, their very giddy gladness-es, to publish their work.

Also, very little changes and edits have been made to the first and original versions of each work, work produced under strict exam-like conditions. And these changes or edits. They were largely based on the marking annotations and feedback I gave, and always give (to) these students – and every other – on graded written work.

Yes, I just implied my students are such huge writers! Already.

54515373_2257206997665120_9208184018883837952_n

Image may be protected by copyright.

I must mention too, that, Composition, the component (of the said examination) that required responses of this nature and length, is meant to test more than English language proficiency.

A careful look at the component’s mark scheme – as at the time I write this – should prove this: a total of 25 marks, consisting of:

  • up to 13 marks for a criterion called Content and Structure.
  • no more than 12 marks for another criterion called Style and Accuracy.

This component of said subject of said examination. Composition.

The mark scheme criteria for same component. Same Composition.

What these three of four things mean to me?

 

Words. Creativity. Writing. Words again.

Creating. With words. Creating worlds. Weaving worlds. With words.

Or simply, Creative Writing!

And it is for the loves and heart-skips, the joys and mind-tickles of these that I, many a time, approach the mountain and chore that grading students’ work can be for many many a Teacher – not excluding me.

And it is with all immense mind-tickles and joys, such surreal heart-skips and loves for writing and creative writing, for words and the wonders of their creations that I bring you, Reader Dear, the four selected writing from a recent quiz that Teacher me conducted for my Grade 10 IGCSE First Language English students:

Coolest Kid in Africa  by Akosua Kumbol.

Makola and her Market by Kojo Obeng Andoh.

Waiting by Papa Ekow Archine.

Ghost Town by Keli Dey.

can use me plus students 2

(Feature) Picture mine: Some of my current Grade 10 students and me – fourth from right, in white loose blouse, three-quarter jeans and orange-brown wedge shoes – during a retro dress up school day–Wednesday, 17th October, 2018.

Love,

AishaTeaches.

AishaWrites. Too.

— Dansoman, Accra, Ghana; Tuesday, 19th March 2019.

CloudYOU! – #TheFruition (Part 8)

This poem is the seventh in my CloudYOU! series. Learn more about the series in the Introduction. Read the firstsecondthirdfourth , fifth and sixth poems. 

You
know I did
not, could not
have forgotten to write
the day before today.

You
know that too well, I
know.

Life – corn and fish
and, and well, and
You – happened.

feet and heart shape twig

Picture mine: A heart-tied stick I chanced on, while on a trip to selected locations in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The specific location here is a footpath to one newly discovered waterfall – Akaa Falls – which is still being developed as a tourist site. –– Thursday, 14th June, 2018.

Yes, Life happened again
with the character that salt is
with the personality that is pepper’s
with the quiet confidence of sun
with the simple immensity of water

and

with You
with You
with You
with You
with You…

*

Love,

AishaLovesToo.

– Tuesday, 3rd July 2018; North Kaneshie, Accra.

*An earlier version of this poem first appeared on my Facebook page.

CloudYOU! – #ThePlant (Part 5)

This poem is the fourth in my CloudYOU! series. Learn more about the series in the Introduction. Read the first, second and third poems. 

 

the day before this new one
I saw and heard and tasted
You everywhere I turned
yes, again

but that is not
why I write
today too
about you.

the night before this coming one
I was wondering if I want, if I
can count You among my many
coming new mornings

13912409_1186836691368828_5519135376050041094_n

Photo mine. Dusk at the beach somewhere in between the Lighthouse and Sempe, both in Ga Mashi, Accra Central, Ghana. Circa September 2017.

or the
quartered, minced
hearts of yore.

the day before this new day
I had to pinch and pain myself
with the kind of cloud that
You are, that You are

threatening
to remain
to me.

 

*

Love,

AishaLovesToo.

– Monday, 16 April 2018; North Kaneshie, Accra.

*An earlier version of this poem first appeared on my Facebook page.

Soul-ed Up.

Of Music and Muse(s).

Presence,
Peace peeps in…

preparation Meets procrastination.
perfectionism Spurns Both.

prose Rolls Into poetry. And Back. poetry Prods prose. Again And Again.

pencil Flits Across paper.
pen Is Clamped Between Lips.

Peace,
Presence tip-toe in…

– 3rd November 2014

*                *               *

randomness

photo credit.

Real. Dreams.  OR ‘Random’ Defined.

The night before,
the dream spoke of
Suya
Suya and Suraya

The morning after,
a dress said,
Live, Laugh
Laugh, Love
Love

Shakespeare – no Juliet in ‘RoMEo and
Juliet’ asked of what is in a naME.

S/he forgot to add that of
a word
They both forgot to add that
real and
random both begin with R, and come before the twice twin es-es of
suya
AND suraya

‘…and rANDom’ you said?

and oh no…

You know what?
Yes, no. Never mind.

– 26th January, 2015 

*                *               *

Of Daughters’ Names.

on names (2)

quote by Wasan Shire

…and give your daughters names that force people to ask questions, people who don’t know enough to ask yet, know enough to want to learn. Give your daughters names that teach others that names mean much more than a group of letters strung in syllables, that names have and are forces, that names have in them the power to make…and if possible, be life itself. Give your daughters names, not just any name, sexy names. My name is Sheilla Aishetu Nelson. [And I am my Father’s Daughter.]

– Aisha Nelson : 12th June 2015

*                *               *

Naa.

Which Mother sends one daughter a (swim suit kinda) bra, three strings of waist beads, big bottle of corn drink and a generous pounds of salted beef? Mine does. Naa Amanuah Ankrah is her name.

Many a time, it is the thought, the state of heart that matters most, and not the matter…

This too is…L.O.V.E. And I am my Mother’s daughter.

13th June 2015

*                *               *

Muse-ic. Love-of-a-kind. Lyre-ic.

I love music, especially, soulful, spiritual music.

They say I’m an old soul. I’m still learning what that fully means. So the older the song and or its genre, the more dense (need not be steeped in figurative language) and the more it speaks of and to the issues of life and of living it, of this and other life-s, the easier and harder (pun not intended) it is for me to fall for that song. In fact, I can think of more than three songs that if I hear being played anytime! anywhere! my life HAS TO come to a stand-still until the playing is ended. That is, I just can’t (continue to) do anything sensible or productive…I can do nothing, apart from sitting or standing or lying still – depending on my posture as at when the song came – until it is gone and done with…

music

photo credit

Many times, the tone of the said song – whether serious or lighthearted, whether
sophisticated or suggestive, whether puerile or dead down-to-earth – does not matter:
the earnestness and genuineness of the voice – as in, NOT the voice of the singer/ musician but the LITERARY voice IN or OF song – is what matters most. To me. The instruments, melody, pauses, pitch and crescendos and all the other jargons are mere bonuses; they just have to be good enough or more, but most importantly, they do NOT have to get in the way of the words, not in any way. The words, the lyrics. They may be tickled or meaningfully! touched by the periphery-s, but they ought not to be scalded, scathed…

The song. The subject matter can be anything from laughter and love to heaviness and hate, anything from the exalted through the noble to the mundane, anything from the sublime to the silly. It just has to be honest, not trying too hard to please, to reach…

Once in a while, I pick up more modern, recent songs or songs from more modern genres. I add them to my collection of all-time-favourites. Hymns are one of my special, fetish genres. They are one of a few favourites of a much-higher-order.

There’s been many many times a song that I don’t know the lyrics to or what the song even means in its original language would ring strong and long somewhere deep inside of me – a non-physical part of me. Later when I research the lyrics, someway somehow, it
feels exactly like I’ve known the lyrics all along. As much as I’d known the tune. Why this usually doesn’t surprise me, I’m yet to (fully) know.

These past few days, [a] song [has been doing] the rounds, doing the ringing in that part of me…I know it’s [quite] ‘common’…but I’ve never known its lyrics beyond the first line.
The tune, yes…

1st March, 2015

*                *               *

Day-Dreams OR Of other Worlds

…is reading, thinking through Philip Larkin‘s ‘Born Yesterday’, a poem.

Eyes are fixed on books and books and pamphlets and more, all waiting to be read; poems and short stories and other write-ups also waiting, to be completed, revised, edited or simply, read.

A little above books et al, on a mellow blue painted wall, are a few tabs of random reminders – to do-s; a ‘picture’ of a long, flare, flowing and rather colourful dress, which was jointly doodled by nephew and littlest sister.

Beside drawing is a fancy wooden crucifix hanging on a sheer lacy fabric, with a flowery dial centre on which is inscribed both the verse and quotation, Joshua chapter 1, verse 9 : one of a year-or-so old souvenir/gift from my students.

Meanwhile, a fridge hums away in the nearest room and from the backyard, a nest of birds take turns scattering crisp-dry fallen leaves and chirping their little frail lungs off.

bird books backyard

photo credit

Some background this is…

From outside, a distant grooving of Kwesi Pee’s ‘Me nkoaa’ and closer by Grand-E-mother’s insistent pet talks weave in and out of fragments of thoughts and smiles and introspection and all…

24th July, 2014

*                *               *

Nelson

They used to call me a crier. I don’t know if they still will, would, or do. But I know it was cleansing, healing, and refreshing the first and only time in my life when someone understood me enough to not only listen, but to cry with me. Don’t they say men don’t cry? I have not stopped shedding quiet tears in memory of you, and of your passing away. And you still remain the finest Gentle-Man I have ever known. Let them say their worst, I still have you at heart. And it is because of the seemingly little, even insignificant ways you touched my life and showed that you believe in me; it is because of these same little things which make you irreplaceable.

– 16th June, 2015 

*                *               *

Without Title.

Mami tamɔ taami.

Mɔko mɔko tamɔɔɔ Tsɜ Ataa.

Mother is like miraculous berry.

No one, none is like Father FATHER.

– 18th February 2015

*                *               *

Abele Rocks!

CORN

photo credit.

Corn reigns and rocks everywhere…

Either the whole cob or the grains. Raw, peeled (outer coat of a grain), dried, or soaked overnight. Milled into various textures. Roasted, steamed, boiled or stir-boiled. You may or may not add sugar (yes, sugar!) or salt; you may or may not add cassava dough or even groundnuts.

Serve shaped in balls, loaves or simply, stuffed into plantain et al leaves or good old corn husks ( I know right! Even this part of the maize plant is useful.)

Etsew in Central Region. Baŋku and Kenkey in Accra. Abolo and Akplɜ in Eastern and Volta. Et cetera.

Add fish proper (may be fingerlings or other seafood like oysters, shrimps, crabs and lobsters) – may be fried, grilled, boiled in a wide variety of sexy stews or soups. Or replace stew or soup with twice sexy pepper sauce – grounded or fried.

Not to talk of Tom Brown, (white) koko, eko-egbee-mli, eyɜɔ, asaana and my favourite, ŋmɜdãa.

You name it.

Corn for you!
Corn for life!

– 31st January, 2015 in Senchi, Volta, Ghana

*                *               *

Nu is Water. Hulushitee is Sunrise. 

As part of many a needed change, it showered, briefly, today. The grass was mowed a little before the showers. Now the familiar, but not at all mundane smell of damp earth and cut green and lapping sea and distant fish and good old salt hangs in the air, is a blanket, actually, cast over my part of the world.

The housekeeping ladies have ‘sacked’ me from my room to my corridor. But this should be nothing at all. Nothing to be compared to:

The dancing woman has still not been tamed. She would rather not be forced into giving her-self and her story away easily, not even if she is asking for it…

But there must always be a way, another way, and life must go on, with or without her.

9th April 2015 at Coconut Grove Beach Resort.

*                *               *

Hulu is Sun. Nugbɔ is Rain. 

sun and rain rose

photo credit

The fog

clears. The storm subsides.
The rains
let down the last of its heaviness. Sunshine should
come soon. I’ve a brighter
smile in ready
for that, for life and
for all goodly, divine gifts.

21st August, June 2014

*                *               *

Grand-E-Mother.

She
wouldn’t wait for me to return from work
to worry her:

pull her legs, sit on her laps,
sing with her; dance for her,
tell her how sexy, she –
person, clothes and all – is

re-arrange already combed hair; re-prop pillows and postures – quite unnecessarily
re-tell her stories she already knew; stories she (probably) told me in the first place

ask her silly questions; fake sadness or surprise at her
ever razor-sharp, short answers

repeat all these and
more, once and
over again –
anything
to just get her worried: talking and laughing and finally,
we
Pray.

She
wouldn’t wait for that day
when I will write
about her.
Properly.

I’m on my way home,
wishing
I had heard wrong yet,
knowing

She
wouldn’t be waiting with her
everyday ‘Miwula, ayekoo’
for my merely having returned from work.

She wouldn’t be waiting
for the one ‘Minaa, ayekoo. Mbo!’
for her having led a life well, fully and more…

She wouldn’t be waiting for any worries – whether words, whatever –
from me…

Dusk: Tuesday, 27-January-2015

*                *               *

Journeys

journys

photo credit

There’s something lightening, freeing and of course, refreshing about traveling. In many ways, including spiritually. For me, at least.

– 31st January 2015 :Anfoeta Tsebi, Volta, Ghana

*                *               *

And Music and Song is Lala.

Music has its ways.
Music finds its own course.
To those part of us
that nothing else can reach,
can touch;
that only music can reach,

can touch.
As far and as deep as we let
only music…

21st August, June 2014

 *         *       *  

Love,

AishaWrites.

12th October, 2015

Fifteen Pieces of Literature: Fifteen Shades of What They Call LO.V.E. (1)

(that ye)May be able to comprehend…what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height…and to know the love, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with…fullness…
Ephesians 3:18-19 (KJV)

sunset -pic

For what Thing has oaths been broken, laws come to no use, paradises been lost, selves ceased to be, wars raged and been waged, worlds toppled over and family feuds fueled or even, been started?What one Thing has humankind, with all their possessions and statuses, will never tire of hearing, experiencing, giving and if granted, receiving in portions and folds, over and again?

What for?

For what same Thing has yokes been broken, wounds been bound, hearts known healing, shores been recovered, worlds bloomed anew, and collective tongues found or even, been formed?What Thing at all has poem and story upon song been made and continue to be made, all of which are, and will never grow stale and silent on the ears and possibly, very soul of humankind?

For what?

For one thing, I like to tell myself that I am not into love poems, both in writing and in enjoying reading them. I can explain:

                                               *        *       *

Largely because they make much more room for more details, I can tolerate short stories, novels, movies etc.about or on love. In fact, there is something about Helen Dunmore’s novel, The Seige; Kwaw Ansah’smovie, Love Brewed in the African Pot; Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun; David Nicholls’s movie adaptation of his own novel, One Day; and The biblical Solomon’s Songs of Songs, that will always stay with me. I can mention more. Something human and more about how Love was treated and explored in these works, at least.

attemtp

I do realize that because poetry is usually – supposed/ expected to be dense and compact, and at the same time, manage to say so much in as little words as possible, poetry cannot afford the luxury of explication as one would expect or like, and especially so for a subject like Love. So I should blame poetry’s economy of words, I know.

Also, I know I ought to know that not every poem need be so hard a code – or nut, even – to crack, just for its own sake. It sure has been said once and almost too many a time that any piece of writing, including poetry, must first communicate, before any functionality and or aesthetic, no matter how mundane or not so so.

I should consider the many poems out there which have done huge justice to this same Love subject, unlike the many more prose forms which fall short of exhausting the subject, not even with their relatively bigger room for words.This too I know.

And oh, I do realize that not every poem need to be this serious, this exalted. In fact, there are poems that are intentionally not supposed to make any sense at all – like some concrete poems; poems that are willfully silly – like limericks and parodies; poems that are allowed to be without reason pun not intended.

However, it iopen mics probably for these same reasons that poetry should rather want to avoid, if not leave, the Love terrain altogether. And this is not at all because poetry is incapable of getting the job done exhaustively, but because, poetry, being a self-cum-popularly-acclaimed ‘nobler’ one of the three genres of literature – play(script) and prose being the other two – it is just unlike it, if not unbecoming of it, to bore down on subject matter and happenstance at the expense of depth and density in meaning, and unity and solidity of theme.

Talking of depth and solidity and all…

red rose on wood floow - black and white

red rose flower on back-and-white wood

One of my all-time favourite people from literature – you may call them characters – is Senchi, in Efua Theodora Sutherland’s Edufa , an African/ Ghanaian adaptation of EuripidesAlcestis. In a doubly serious conversation with his friend, Edufa, about having ‘…solidity…(being) Something…Somebody…(having) grip…’ in life, Senchi says,

But perhaps, that, like many statements we are capable of expressing, is merely grasping the extremes of light and dark, and missing the subtle tones for which we haven’t yet found the words.’

For one who says he makes ‘Songs for everything; songs for goodness, songs for badness; for strength, for weakness, for dimples and wrinkles; and for making you cry. But… never make(s) songs about ugliness because (he) simply thinks(s) it should not exist.’, he must surely have songs about this Thing they call Love.

ilovepoetryBeing ‘…the wanderer…’, being one who ‘Comes in the nick of time when everything he loves is together in one place. Friends, women, bottles…’, and being one who is ‘…trying to pay (his) way in (life with) the currency of songs.’, we can say that  ‘expressing’ Love is one of the ‘many statements’ Senchi talks of.

Also, being the wanderer that he calls himself, he must have seen enough of this world and of this life to know enough about this thing they call Love. He must know enough to talk and sing about Love, while keeping in mind that this same Love, ‘…like many (things/ feelings/ emotions) we are capable of expressing, is merely grasping the extremes of light and dark, and missing the subtle tones for which we haven’t yet found the words.

This ‘merely grasping (at) the extremes’ is the burden of words and of the worlds and possibilities they come with. This ‘merely grasping (at) extremes‘ is the burden of all genres of literature, and for poetry in particular. And especially so for subjects such as Love. I believe.

They call Poetry’s (quality) ‘economy of words’. They simply call this other one ‘Love’. Where it is very possible and plain needful, let the two live and let live.

Love,

AishaWrites

– Monday, 18th May 2015; about  8:30pm