What’s A Poem?

Chinua Achebe – Poet & Novelist

What’s a poem?
Is it witty word play,
phrases or sentences that
are stripped prose meant
to be insightful, arrayed
in stanzas and verses,
that at times its theme seem
puzzling or incomprehensible to a reader?
– Yes, but not this alone.

Is it hand-picked words
in the best order –
set in patterns of rhyme
that coax the impulse
to tap a feet or nod
in time to its rhythmic beat,
while evoking senses of:
image and symbol, speech and feelings?
– Yes, this, and much more.

It is paying attention to what’s noble
but also what’s rude, inhumane and bizarre.
Dressed in the garb of everyday experience
it lends imagination a voice, excite
our capacity for wonder,
our appreciation of beauty, and
our perception of the world around us.
Poetry knows no will, no purpose, but its own;
it craves an audience, not a panacea.

(c) Ugo Nkwoala. SpilledWoords. 2018

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