For a lot of young writers and aspiring writers, it was a platform to learn one or two tricks in the writing craft. The reknowned poet, Jumoke Verissimo with support from WriteHouse Collective and PEN Nigeria had opened a creative workshop for poetry last month. The second edition of the workshop which held on Saturday, 20th of September delved into the idea of experience as a vehicle for poetry and the use of metaphors.
Participants were given a class work to write out what ‘experience’ means to them in few words, these lines were analysed by Verissimo. She said during her teaching ‘Deep into yourself, narrate or express experience based on your own personal life’. Referring to the lines of one of the participants, she said ‘now he has dug into his own life, perhaps there are things he wished he could achieve, so those six words analyses his own life’.
Jumoke asserted that there is absolutely nothing like a ‘writer’s block’. She said that if one could generate a first line based on personal experience, a second line would ‘flow from the bones’ and a third line will be accomplished easily. Other participants were actively involved as they contributed to the analysis of each other’s work.
Verrisimo said poetry is not far-fetched, it is borne out of the things that are available to our consciousness and experience. She said ‘usually what comes to mind when you want to write poetry is to look for that which is not readily available’ instead of looking at things that are part of us. She read from the works of African poets like Kofi Awoonor, Jared Angira and Wole Soyinka from the book, Poems of Black Africa, also poems of Caribbean poet, Derek Walcot.
Verissimo delved into metaphors as a form of experience, ‘you need to make a metaphor of your life, you place two things that are different and try to make a connection between them. As a poet you have created that metaphor, and then we will begin to see our lives, through that metaphor. Verissimo said. She also recalled her stint with Farafina ‘I remember working for Farafina, and the day we were working on the magazine and we were trying to contact Mr (Igoni) Barrett to send us a story then and he said that ‘he wrote poetry first before he began to write stories’. She said ‘poetry helps you as a writer of prose, metaphors helps your imagery and interpret an experience’. Participants were also encouraged to create metaphors spontaneously in order to sharpen their creative prowess.
‘You have to express the experience you gather in a way that the reader touches the experience’. In the poem building process that the workshop participants were involved in, Jumoke interjects ‘the poem becomes an experience for the reader and the reader becomes an experience for the poem-People want to interpret their lives but they are lost on how to do it, poetry assists them to do so’