The Point of Poetry
Call me a Philistine, but I’ve never much seen the point of poetry. Sure the War Poets did some good stuff. But when you are capable of stringing together sentences into a few coherent paragraphs why bother chopping it into lines and verses? It seems a bit, well, contrived.
Maybe it takes a war? Whatever. There’s been some cracking stuff in Kenya’s literary magazine Kwani dealing with the post-election violence here. Such as…
By Stephen Partington
When peace erupted, none of us was ready.
You remember how the sticks above our heads
were gently lowered, how our riot gear
was sloughed-off like a skin? We rubbed our chins.
And yet, the dead, they didnâ€™t rise.
Do you recall the day the grandmas of the Rift
embraced the grandsons of Nyeri,
when the youth were given grants to raise
manyattas they had razed? We rubbed our eyes.
But still, the dead maintained their peace.
Think back: the way the Lake and Ocean rose to kiss Mount Kenyaâ€™s
The glossy adverts in the Nation and the Standard:
We congratulate our leaders for restoring
Peace and Unity, and all is well in Neverland?
The dead began to wake.
Do you remember how they asked us to forget?
In 4-by-4s, Big Men from each and every province
drove a web across the land, their shining
megaphones proclaiming: Back to work!
The dead were spinning.
And the bishops and the diplomats, the councillors
and businessmen, they gathered for a conference
outside the new Grand Regency and told us
It was all a dream, an error, so now nothing needs be done,
some things just die, are best forgotten. No? Come on!!
You must remember how the landless and the jobless dead
erupted from their coffins with a shriek?
You donâ€™t remember?! Let me help you.
Hold this gun. I have a cutting. Take a peek.