Skip to main content

Where your poetry should stand


The sooner we realize that every artist was first an amateur, and then understand that there will always be someone better than you, the higher we can fly!

Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for literature with poetry that "gives a fresh access to reality." Could we afford a dream like this?

Yes why not? ‘A truly creative person rids him or herself of all imposed limitations’ Gerald Jampolsky.

Millions of writers dream of fame and fortune or simply for their work to be taken seriously. Others however, would be grateful for the smiles and praise of their friends and loved ones. The reasons for writing are endless.

Being competent at something is a goal we all embrace and sacrifice to attain; we study, ask questions, mingle with others like us, and the list goes on. However, in my research many poets are not ready to get the top. We are so much in a competition with each other which makes our pieces dilute or a complete joke. There is a focus on impressing the audience rather than passing a message and making a piece immortal. If painters read about Picasso and study the techniques he employed in his works, if musicians study about composition of men like Franz J. Haydn, who are poets and spoken word artists to be the cut above the rest?

Many poets are too attached to their poems to the extent that they never consider them being faulty or amateurish. They always have a defense whereby even grammatical spellings are classified as poetic justice! The ratio of exposure platforms for performances and readings as compared to laboratories is limited; and most existing laboratories are expensive. Sadly we live in a money world what can we do!

Can we poets afford to dream of publishing? My experiences with publishing have been a picture of heartbreak.
“For poetry books to sell they have to be escorted with a launch or several performances highlighting poems in the book; for us to publish your work you have to be a really good performer to ensure the books sell” this was the first advise I got from one publisher.

All the other advices made me select my poetry friends as my editors and critiques of my book, led me to designing my own book and think of self publishing. It is bad to settle for a compromise but when your eyes only show limitations, listen to your heart because its beat will pave the way to the runway.

Transtormer worked as a psychologist for juvenile offenders, gleaning insights into the human mind that he incorporated into his poetry. His inspiration being his environment, he juxtaposed the deep, inner workings of the human mind with vivid scenes from the landscape of his country. His works are simple and about an issue that came from a familiar part of his life. He let what was inside him advise him for it is only there that one can be advised well. If poets connected with their work, if they became one with their pieces as they wrote and even as they performed, without trying to impress others or compete but the intention to write something and wonder if you were the writer! Imagine.

However, no poem is beyond critic as it is under the mercies of an audience. How often do you share your work and who do you share your work determines your growth. It is not the number of times you do it but the growth you make each time: You do not want to be writing a repetitive mess and getting claps for it each time. Get someone who appreciates the art of poetry and has time for your work; one who will read your work several times to study its theme, form, style, and logic, then give you an analysis of your work emphasizing problems: trite phrases, flaws in form, excessive abstractions, and your strengths as well.

Who is a professional? My dictionary meaning would throw it at a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks in this sense the quality of work has to be exquisite. We should strive to be a cut above the rest; which means that we have to stop struggling for only the few local appreciations and extend our environs to the international borders. This means that we have to marry poetry to get serious, understand her inside out. We have to read how great poets like Elizabeth Barrett or William Ernest prepared themselves to practice its art and craft, and not just for the acquisition of poetry-writing skills and techniques.

When your poetry finds purpose and direction, only then can you transcend. When your poetry embraces the reader or audience, only then will you be heard. When your poetry is given the time it needs in its art and craft, only then will you be recognized.


© Namatsi Lukoye

Popular posts from this blog

The loyalty Pledge (Kenya)

I pledge my loyalty to the President
and Nation of Kenya
My readiness and duty
to defend the flag of our Republic
My life, strength and service
in the task of nation building
In the living spirit embodied
in our National motto 'Harambee'

and perpetuated in the
Nyayo philosophy
of Peace, Love and Unity.


Thinking Moi’s dictatorship!
As children we had to make the pledge!
In our rags!
With no shoes on!
Bribed with milk (maziwa ya nyayo for staying so loyal)
We recited the words out loud
Religiously we recited at the school assembly
Attention we stood when recited or else we would face the wrath of the cane!






© Namatsi Lukoye

The Poet's Muse

Nayo iwe vipi Kunimaliza kwa macho tu Na ukinibusu… najishangaa tu Nimekua kama zuzu napepea tu Au labda kama mtoto nashindwa cha kufanya lo!
Nguvu gani jamani Si kawaida nashuku ni vela au voodoo  Labda ni uchawi ulibeba toka pwani Nawaogopa wanaokuja kama wewe - naogopa si mchezo! Iwe vipi nawa mchenge Mie pwagu iwe vipi nalemewa hivi
Macho yakikutana - yangu ya legea Natamani ardhi ifunguke nijifichie Najikaza najiwekea nanyamazia - Mwili nao msaliti - jamani, vile moyo wapiga Mwili wanisaliti - hata jinsi napumua Mwili wanisaliti - maji hayo nishakua
and when you touch me  Za! Twende sasa! Nipe yote kesho labda si yetu Cheza nami usiogope kitu Au labda tupande kwa majani tufike angani zetu Una nguvu ajab, nikipi chanisumbua 
Na wanimaliza huachi hata mfupa  - umeninasa hongera mvuvi Vidole kawa miguu, sasa basi tembea jua nchi Zama kisimani - palipo madini labda almasi Nawe kwa ujuzi - ule - mizizi hata mchuzi
Shanga kiunoni - nacho hakidanganyi Kilivyo jilegeza - upate pa kushikilia kilivyo jiachilia - upate…

Just before I killed the Cupid!

Look at you... finding your way into a love story! Well then buckle up!
A couple of months ago I was burning every thought of love from my space and life because I had stopped believing in it. I actually hated that word. Someone would say it to me and I would totally flip out concluding the story with, 'the world is too fake to figure out what love is!' My friends would introduce me to new people, or encourage me join dating sites – but I always felt so desperate doing this! People were just shallow! My poems turned dark – they focused more on pain and I would define pain so beautifully you would want to marry it! I look back and cannot believe I gave too much of my time on the darkness.
Day 1
Things can really change! I met him in an official setting - I had been called to give a presentation about this and that; quite honestly I wasn't up for it. I dragged myself out of the office, sweet talking myself that I needed the fresh air and to meet new people. I do not like meetin…