One cannot be certain if it is as despised as mathematics — or politics, but I know that many people, especially students, do not consider POETRY as one of their favourite things — a lot would go as far as declaring their ‘hatred’ for it.
Interestingly, many of such people enjoy reading, and appreciate other forms of literature, but readily link their apathy towards poetry to the humiliation and embarrassment they experience each time they struggle to relate or grasp depth from what is conventionally considered brilliant poetry. The obscure language — seemingly done intentionally — of such poetry and its subtle challenge to their intellectual capacity is a turn-off.
Quoting W.H. Auden, “Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts” and this very much applies to poets and their poems, and that uncertain air of subtly ambiguous grandiose they seem to effuse (especially critics who consider ‘sentimental poetry’ as inferior in artistry).
Even when they are not writing private poetry, in their intellectual exuberance and (slightly narcissistic) devotion to conformity with poetry principles, many poets forget to ‘communicate’. They often end up with pedantic poetry that impresses some, intimidates some, but bores and fails to engage most.
I understand that there are different kinds of poetry, but it is undeniable that certain forms are considered ‘superior’ or ‘the standard’, their cryptic nature suggesting the dubious notion that poetry and its pleasures are for the intelligentsia.
There is a need for ‘poetry without poets’. I am convinced that poetry, stripped of ego and pedantry, can be versatile enough to preserve its literary integrity and engage anyone who would not normally read or write poetry.
Poetry is an art, just like music, and if the ability to create music or even play a musical instrument is not a prerequisite for appreciating and enjoying good music, then the inability to write ‘good poetry’ or understand its intricacies must not deny anyone the pleasures of enjoying poetry.
Without any intention to ridicule complex forms of poetry, the poems in this book are written without the strictures of conformity and with a form and motive to portray poetry as enjoyable, especially to those people who would normally consider this literary form intimidating or boring.
I must also mention that this is not another collection of ‘angry poetry’. Modern African poetry seems to increasingly reinforce the negative stereotypes of the Western World about Africa. They constantly reflect a lot of diatribe and angst in their portrayal of a rational African image of catastrophe and devastation, instability, poverty, war, economic and socio-political injustice.
A huge chunk of modern African literature is themed around this bias, so much that it appears difficult to be considered a serious African poet (or writer) if you do not write about these negative situations (and that, from a ‘non-sentimental poetry’ point of view). However, just as Chimamanda Adichie explains in The Danger Of A Single Story, these gloomy renderings reflect only a (negative) part of a bigger story, and a continual focus on it elevates the negative part to appear as the whole story, the only story.
As an African, who grew up in Africa, I know in despite of her challenges, Africans live in pursuit of happiness and laughter, we celebrate love and romance —comedians are rich, wedding ceremonies are big and lavish. We cherish fond memories of happy childhoods and growing up. We mourn when we lose loved ones and rejoice when a new life comes. We also enjoy the beauty of closely-knit families, the warmth of community and our wealth in social capital. Any African story that does not provide a balance on these perspectives is partial and incomplete.
With a fresh, whimsical and somewhat cheeky approach, Your Father Walks Like A Crab explores the dynamics of man’s sentimental interactions and our ageless desire for mutual acceptance and affirmation. With a fair sprinkle of wit and humour, it is about relationships: familial, platonic or romantic; it is about beauty and of course, love – the love of it, the hate of it, the wait for it, the praise of it, the search for it, the find of it, the fall into it, the rejection of it and also the ‘things’ that get broken by it.
Your Father Walks Like A Crab also alludes to societal observations, moral and family issues within the panorama of African and religious values, while preserving an international relevance. Careful thought has been made by providing some insight into unfamiliar words or concepts that might interest a foreign reader.
I appreciate all my friends and admirers, especially from the social media, who inspired the desire to fulfil the agenda of this book. To every member of Familia Poetica, this would not have happened without you.
I feverishly hope each reader enjoys reading these poems as much as I relished writing them.