Writings of the general word's body

Monday, December 04, 2006

Letter 49

There is nothing wrong in your disagreeing with my assertions. But there is something mightily wrong when you think or feel that we must reason alike or see things the same way just because we both write poetry.

You know very well how I treasure your person and your poetry. I still do. What I now find offensive is your revealed unwillingness to accommodate another person's opinion about poetry and society.

I honestly don't think that wisdom ends on your doorstep. It is not and has never been my intention to pander to your ideological position on writing. Hold your literary beliefs for I zealously cling to my own.

As a respected figure in the poetry circuit, you ought to know the virtue of diversity in that genre. We can't and should not desire to write the same way. When you criticised Wole Soyinka and Christopher Okigbo in your various talks and articles, you did that in the light of your understanding of what poetry is and what function poetry ought to perform. Nobody as far as I know has bullied you for holding those opinions. The writing universe is a large one. It can contain all shades of styles and ideas. For you to go about carrying on as if I have insulted you or knocked your head simply because I aired my view on poetry is very disconcerting. You have been inspirational to me because of your single-minded devotion to the art of writing. You still have my admiration but please allow me to be. Allow me to react to the world in my own way. Allow me to speak in my own way. Allow me to write in my own way.

I seriously disagree with you in saying that I contradicted myself in the poem titled "In The Bullring" which I recently published in the Daily Times. Political poetry is just one among the many kinds that I write. I have never urged for the obliteration of political or socially-conscious poetry. I simply noted that the writing of political poems (many of them trashy) mainly as a means of courting acclaim and acceptance in the Nigerian writing scene as is currently the vogue is hypocritical. Screaming slogans in poems is not the only way that one can show his or her commitment to the betterment of this nation. Politics is not the hold-all of a writer's thematic thrust. I don't want to see poetry narrowed insidiously to any one form, theme or function.

Uche Nduka
  • Taken from Belltime Letters by Uche Nduka (Newleaf Press, Bremen, 2000). Reproduced with permission.
  • Uche Nduka's poetry appears in this month's special 4th anniversary edition of Sentinel Poetry Online.