Storymoja

Celebrating East African Writing!

Poetry by Dennis Dancan Mosiere

In the past five or so years, poetry has been alive and kicking more than it was before events hosted Kwani?, Storymoja, Nu Metro Poet’s Club among others. It is now the latest fad in the urban areas like Nairobi after its resurrection. Infact it was unheard of in the 80s.How it has come to be appreciated and now read in pubs is something astonishing.

 

It was in the 60s and 70s, when we had vibrant and great East African poets like Taban Lo Liyong, David Cook, David Rubadiri, Okot p’ Bitek, Jared Angira and many more. This was the time many great poets released works and were published in large numbers and in anthologies. Back then, there were no open mics but the intellectual debates were lively. In fact, many of us can attest that these are the poets we read in school ;they are read and studied in school even now.

Come the late 80s, there was a sudden death of poetry and other intellectual activities in Kenya partly because of political reasons. Kenya then experienced massive brain drain. Nothing can be written home about in this period. The sudden resurrection of poetry again appeared in the late 90s and the post 2000 in the form of open mics.However new poets are hardly read in schools nowadays because they have not been published in large numbers. And they are many. It makes one wonder what their destiny ism if not to be published. May be their obsession is to have blogs where they rest their hopes of getting published and to read some of their poems in entertainment venues.

Mainstream newspapers in Kenya publish poetry but they give very little space. But this poetry helps one to make a name and not fortune since it is claimed to be a hobby. Well,why is poetry regarded to as a hobby that cannot earn money, if other hobbies are the biggest earners for the many people who engage in them? Here, we are talking of hobbies like cycling, football, golf, volleyball and athletics. Even writing is a hobby that is earning people a lot of money. The fact that now every other pub in Nairobi has a poetry night and patrons are parked inside shows that poetry is a popular form of entertainment that does generates money.So,who contributes to the growth of poetry in Kenya and at the same time killing it. We all may be responsible.

Publishers in Kenya are responsible in the lack of more poetry books since they are not keen in publishing poetry citing that the public does not read poetry in Kenya. Their lust for money is fulfilled with the publishing of school texts. Most poets with resources opt to publish themselves like Tony Mochama and others. But what happens to those who are unable? Their work is resting under the comfort of their beds. Only fate will decide their destiny. It is very interesting that it isn’t to publish in Kenya.

Hence my saying that poetry is alive today, in terms of reading and open mics, but to disappear again is something to take note.In fact poetry in Kenya in this case is no longer ailing, but it is recuperating. Among the poets who have emerged lately are Tony Mochama, Caroline Nderitu, Imani, Masese, Andrew Odongo, Tim Mwaura, Njeri Wangari, Cindy Ogana, Muki Garang and Terryann Chebet among others. Forget that the new poets have been labeled literary gangsters by the poetry police; they are earning their sweat the hard way.

So who is contributing to the death of poetry? I think we are all playing a part in the killing and the executing of poetry. From the poets, organizers of open mics to the media. As for the media, they are not treating poetry as a strong form of art, but just as a pastime and hence they are not giving it the coverage that it needs like they do with hip hop, kapuka and genge which are offshoots of poetry. It is interesting to note here that lewd poetry in the form of kapuka and genge continues to dominate airspace in Kenya than any other form of poetry.

Most of these poets have not been published at least any where apart from there blogs. For them, the only forum they have is to read to the audience and then keep posting their pieces online. Very good poems have been read and why they can’t be published is a question I will not answer in my position.

© Dennis Dancan Mosiere 2009

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If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.

11 comments on “Poetry by Dennis Dancan Mosiere

  1. Peter Ndiwa
    November 24, 2009

    Debatable piece to some extend… Not quite a good way of paying tribute though a good writing altogether.

  2. Liz
    November 25, 2009

    gone through it… thoughts about poetry’s space in our society though…are welcome

  3. Alexander
    November 25, 2009

    Fucked up title. Careless. Baaah. Was the proof editor drunk?!!

  4. Alexander
    November 25, 2009

    She was drunk, am now sure. The carelessness of putting the piece on the Web so unrevised is worthy of the Kenya Times. Withdraw, edit thoroughly, teach the writer about the proper use of prepositions, and republish. And nicely this time.

  5. Storymoja Africa
    November 25, 2009

    Oh no, she was not. How many times I got to tell writers to proof their work?!

    The editor’s note was about brand presentation, and maybe some articles are examples of the heights or lows of brand presentation.

    I think everyone who visits these pages should ask their own selves why some writers keep getting voted into the Story of the Week, Writer of the Month slot. This is a writers’ community where you can hope for true and honest critique. I have over time rejected some really bad pieces, because the Storymoja Brand represents writing and publishing standards of high quality.

    However, I think a little peer review is good once in a while to let writers know just how much potential, or not their works have.

    However, this editor does concede with certain opinions that are yelling for the locking out of badly written, badly edited pieces. So let us aim for the stars, shall we?

  6. Tabu Bin Tabu
    November 26, 2009

    In commenting on the above piece, Issues raised by Alexandar can not be overlooked. It is the duty of the editor to ensure that sub-standard articles are not published. However,the author deserves an opportunity to be heard, corrected and advised in order for him to improve.

    A piece like this is worth a million times than a well thought out idea not documented.

    Though a story should transcend the language in which it is written in, every effort should be made to avoid errors.

  7. Storymoja Africa
    November 26, 2009

    I do agree to a certain extent with you. However, since for the last few months, the editor’s note has emphasized on the writer making special effort to clean up his won work, we have over the last few weeks allowed some unedited work to be published in raw to emphasize certain points. I am glad you have noticed, because I have been making a point to do this for quite a while without anyone in particular bringing it up. What I have noticed is that when you readers are irritated by the mistakes more than you are entertained by it, you just avoid voting on it.

    But, this is a forum for peer review, and so it helps when you writers point out such things as the fact that mistakes detract from the strength of the story, and reduce the chance that you work will ever be accepted by any print publisher.

  8. Osas
    November 26, 2009

    Oh. Reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally.

    Reminds me so of children: “dat wuz not a mistake, teacher: I did it on purpose, to show!” Yeah, sure. Making a point.

    Not.

  9. Storymoja Africa
    November 27, 2009

    I am a teacher, remember?

    And I shall not admit mediocrity in front of the children who believe I am infallible!

    :)

    And I have been doing it on purpose for the last few months. Why would I edit all except one article every week? Check.

  10. chrispus
    November 27, 2009

    some really nasty critiques, makes me wonder…why is it that those who never submit their works, or those who are cowardly to do so always fire the first ascerbic salvos? have i ever read anything by Alexander…let me see…no, why not just criticise and move on? whether drunk or not is neither here nor there! the editor should not apologise to some of these arm chair critics, rise up and give us what you have,we wont mind whether you are sober or drunk!

  11. Storymoja Africa
    November 28, 2009

    Valid point, Chripus. Alexander, show us your work :)

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