By Damiete Braide
When Professor Wole attends an event, one would see him talk to the audience when it’s time for him to give his speech. But it was a different ball game recently at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on World Poetry Day.
Accompanied by Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Bimbo Manuel and attired like astronauts, they thrilled the audience with their poetry performances drawn from Prof Wole Soyinka’s book, 2009: A Space Odyssey.
The celebration of this year’s World Poetry Day was themed “Voices in the Cause of Earth”, featuring renowned and up-and-coming poets, who lit up the atmosphere with enthralling renditions.
In his address of welcome, Managing Director, Providus Bank, Walter Akpan, said it was an evening to celebrate cross-generational poetry in Nigeria.
“The issue of climate change, thus, brings home the fact that there are more issues, and what people do will affect the climate in different parts of the world.
“According to the helmsman of the bank, issues of environment and climate change should always be on the front burner and conversations in our everyday life.
“This year’s World Poetry Day focuses on climate change, and production of crop inputs at this time cannot be over emphasized. The environment, which we are talking about, is part of ours. So, we should hold it dare.”
Corroborating what Walter said, Soyinka added “A World Poetry Day, dedicated to ‘Voices in the Cause of Earth’, is natural for evoking the art of the Haiku, a uniquely Japanese poetic form that has increasingly found practitioners among Africans and predominantly Nigerian poets.
“In honour of Earth on this World Poetry Day, Poetry Cafe takes delight in introducing guests from the continent who follow the delicate trail laid by the originals, the perfectionists of this form — the Japanese masters. The African haiku, named ‘Afriku’ by Adjei, sometimes emerges as variations on the strict Japanese prototype. That is the adventurous nature of poetry,” he said.
The poetry performances were divided into two, “The Five” and “Poetry Communes in Lagos”.
Members of The Five include Evelyn Osagie, Akeem Lasisi, Umar Abubakar Sidi, Reginald Offodile and Efe Paul Azino. They performed “Nature’s Irate Screams”, “The Divination”, “Poets and Salamanders”, “Deadly”, “Device”, and “After the Floods”, respectively.
While Poetry Communes in Lagos includes Poets in Nigeria, AJ House of Poetry, Loudthotz and Bariga Poets Collective.
Phebe Benjamin performed “Environmental Awareness”, Bestman Michael performed “Smokes and Death”, while Increase Nathaniel performed “I know what will kill us First”, respectively.