Wordslam....Poetry in the garden
Words are for the sage
Of old but now on page
We publish its message.
WOW! Fantastic, Fabulous, Mindblowing... were some of the adjectives deployed by members of the distinguished audience of the old and the young -- that congregated satrurday July 5 in the Goethe Institut garden in Victoria Island-- to capture their impression of the proceedings at the first edition of the newly-birthed WORDSLAM.
Under the misting cloud, they sat stubbornly and stuck with the artistes, defying the troublesome rains that kept disorganising the technical set-up (and eventually annihilated opportunity for a technical rehersal for the eventl) to flow with the flow of melody and rhythm of the poetic performances dished out by 10 specially selected artistes; and a score of unbilled budding and aspiring poets that featured in the programme. It was such a splendid evening of celebrating the essence of the WORD in the life of man; particularly, the very essentials of WORD expressed in poetic colours to the average African.
Mount the stage...
The proceedings started with an ensemble of drummers shocking the audience to life with a festive parade; and then the voice of the eclectic poet, Sage Has.son lazed his famous work RAGE on the staccato of drums. The Priest of the rite of the WORD, Ropo Ewenla came in strongly throwing the house back to the good old day of the celebratory hunter's chant amid a rhythmic trip of the drums.
Then flowed in JUMIE Imole's voice from her CD , IMOLE to which the fleet-footed MURI AMULEGBOJA gave an exciting dance and movement interpretation, drawing loud applause from the audience.
But this was just the beginning as the Ewenla lived up to his billing as the compere teasing the gathering: You Haven't Seen Anything Yet. He went on a trip, chanting, singing, welcoming, cajoling, romanticising... the house to get prepared for the MOTHER POET...
The quiet poetess, Iquo eke, who has performed in virtually all the poetry events (Word&Sound, Poetry Potter, Lagos Poetry Festival etc) swayed in as if in poetic trance... SAY MY NAME, she sang... wooing the gathering with her soothing voice and her seductive steps..... the house fell deeply in love with her, even as she reminded them of the CAGED BIRD. And she came on with VOICE FROM FARAWAY LANDS to sign off her performance.
Let my art
Suit your heart
Only tonight -
You may leave overnight
Without my thought...
Although, many thought that the resilient rain would not allow the event to take its destined shape but... the organisers -- the Culture Advocates Caucus and the Goethe Institut -- stuck to their own guns; and the never-giving-up rain met a hard-resolved Spirit of the Artiste insisting 'The Show Must Go On'.
While the rain unleashed its torrents, the Iremoje poet, Akeem Lasisi countered it with the power of the Word. Well, Rain is of God, and WORD is also of God.. afterall in the beginning was the WORD... No rainmaker was needed to halt the rain; and no rain-conjurer was employed to stop the flow of the Word too. Akeem Lasisi, the word-weaver appeased the rain with some line in Yoruba. And like magic, the rain petered out to mere drizzles till it faded to dryness. Poetry captivated minds, spoken words soothed hearts and rhythm caressed chilled body. And, everything melted into one another like a confluence of rivers that makes mighty ocean.
AKEEM LASISI did Correct Pricing which did torch up the gray recesses of Nigeria's ailment. He weathered the rain and sent the rain to slumber.
Mind not my string
When my magical ring
Strum the Guitar
On the high alter...
Soon it was the AJ soldier-poet, Dagga Tolar that took the audience through the antics of the politrickians; how the thieving elites have decimated the soul of the land and make life nearly unlivable for the masses. The audience had a wow time with the gangling poet, whose dreadlocks kept flowing in the wind like the threads of the angry gods; and his eyes red-shot as he hopped and danced to his irresistible reggae-inflected poetic rendion.
Habeeb Ayodeji, whose stage name is Awoko sang truly like the weaverbird, twanging romantically at the soul of the accoustic guitar. sweat cascaded down his face and the gathering wiped him neat with ovations; even as they could not get enough of him, and kept asking for more. Awoko paid tribute to Children and the seeds of tomorrow; warning errant parents to ensure that whatever action they take today has no dent on the hope of tomorrow. He was speaking to the mood of now when quarrels among the elders in the teaching profession and the political class have left the young ones ever vulnerable... prowling the streets like hapless orphans.
Soon it was the Song of Suya&Wine segment that overwhelmed the audience as jazz music from the band of veteran musicians led by the bassist, Nik Abel.
Then came the poetic reggaist, Cornerstone, fondly called the Spokesman for the Motherland. The revolutionary thrilled with his song deep in philosophical postulations about Freedonm. He wailed 'We are not Slaves' and got the audience worked up to chant along as he strummed on his accoustic guitar. Muri Amulegboja, thrilled on oral poetry interpreted in contemporary dance, singingh the praise of the rain. SAGE, a rare act in the gathering of the poets is a master his art and he dazzled the audience with another of his dance-poetics on love... IFE. It was marvelous!
Perhaps the hottest of the act -- a mix of poetry, music, dance.. the very total art was deliberately left to the final act... This was Edaoto... the Unique Being. As the adage goes "the biggest masquerade leave the sanctum last" , Edaoto, a peculiar-being, trilled and warmed the audience with his participatory and energetic poetry.
Dews drop on leaves:
The dried leaves
But in celebration
Of the awaken leaves...
Ropo Ewenla, that's the compere. He dropped the anchor of performances by the selected artistes for the 1st WORDSLAM and sailed on the vessel of Open Mind & Mic - a segment of the event - towards picking new candidates for the next edition of WORDSLAM. About 18 people performed their poems on the open session and five of them were selected.
Meet the Candidates For The Next Edition of WORDSLAM
Photos by Charles Okolo
Word Slam Provides Literary Gourmet For Participants
(Daily Independent, July 8, 2008; www.independentngonline.com/life/arts/article03 )
By Darlington Abuda, Art Reporter, Lagos
Poetic art came to life on Saturday, July 5, at the Goethe Institut, Lagos, as poets and poetry lovers gathered to witness Word Slam - A Feast Of Poetic Flights, a venture that sought to provide answers to questions and seek solutions to life's problems through poem recitation, music, dance and choreography.
The programme, a collaboration between Culture Advocates Caucus (CAC) and Goethe Institut, featured poems and poets that addressed themes ranging from the religious, political, survival to the romantic, the hustles and bustles of life as it affects our land.
Given limited time, the poets performed their recent literary works backed with rhythm and music provided by Awade Jazz Ensemble, and Edun, the ensemble of young masters of the drum.
Among the artistes that performed in Word Slam are Sage, Arne, Ropo, Jumie, Iquo Eke, Akeem, Dagga, Awoko, Jumoke, Cornerstone, Muri and Edeato, all presented their individual style and exceptionality with different messages.
As a tool for political discourse, poetry can be seen as a medium of communication that speaks to all kinds of people from all walks of life. Akeem, for instance, in his poem Correct Pricing, wonders why in the face of hardship occasioned by bad leadership issues to do with the common good of the people are not addressed. Instead, leaders call for the head of the poet.
He also ponders on why pricing in Africa in general cannot be uniform and stable especially as regards petroleum products. Akeem, whose poetry is a recreation of the poetic tradition of the Yoruba, is a journalist and has two poetry albums to his credit.
Dagga, on the other hand, in trying to be philosophical in his poem, Killing Our Dreams, propounds that not all dead people's dreams are dead. He opines that the ideas of people like Martin Luther King (Jnr.), M.K.O. Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, among many activists gone, are still being pursued not just by their protÈgÈs, but poets who believe in their dreams.
Word Slam by the same Dagga, however, is a bit in the musical side; both poems were accompanied by instruments. The dreadlocked Dagga, who said he drew inspiration from the likes of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, is a teacher, socialist and community activist whose poems draw their themes from his everyday experiences.
Poetry was presented through Word Slam in the age-old tradition of African griot and the troubadours of Middle Age Europe. This was evident in Muri's rendition of Yoruba poetry with a blend body language, using dance in both pieces entitled Rain and Ife.
Known as a priest of Yoruba poetry production, his sequence of steps and dance pattern left much to be desired by the audience.
Adding a dash of romance to the contest, Jumoke laments the loss of a lover, Ajani, in her rendition entitled Ajani. A journalist who wrote for The Guardian on Sunday and winner of 2006 Prince Claus Awards, Women Writers in Nigeria (WRITA), Jumoke has her poems, short stories, and essays in several journals in different countries of the world.
Kaduna-born Sage, however, added a touch of modern music in the form of rap to the contest in his rendition of a poems What am I (the spoken word), The Televised Revolution and Music Musing. The poem, What am I (the spoken word) is one with religious message that seeks answers to the existence of man.
Rap music is generally believed to have evolved from poetry, which is an ancient art of black civilization. Ancient literature and history were handed down from generation to generation in African communities. The pattern of chanting customary songs has evolved to become rap music. Sage's The Televised Revolution can be seen to have followed the same pattern, as it is a blend of poetry and music considering its rhyme and rhythm components.