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On the need to write in our own voice in poetries  by Amaka Felly Obioji

“There is magic in writing, there is power in holding a pen and all that flows are poems like a river, this I tell you is peace, this is more than heaven.”

I use the above line from one of my piece as my introduction because poetry means a lot to me, it is therapeutic.  Poetry as a form of writing can be dated back to the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, though many have argued that the early poems evolved from the folk songs such as the Chinese shijing.

Poetry like every other genre of literature through the years has evolved, the traditional way of writing poems which bases on the use of aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language such as phonaesthetics, sound, symbolism and metre is gradually not been employed or enjoyed by some modern writers, poetry today has found its new way of evoking feeling and more  emotions without embracing most styles from the classic writers like Rumi, Goethe, Dante and the rest.  Some writers have found a different voice of theirs they use in conveying their message in their art and to me it is a welcome idea, poets like Nayyirah Waheed, Rupi Kaur and Ijeoma Umebinyo whose writing styles doesn’t reflect the classics but still something to look forward to, their powerful narratives through poetry it’s a tale tell that we as writers can still achieve amazing poems without conforming to the poetic rules if one wishes.

Poetry for years has been a tool for many to convey information in a very concise form and still be able to have meaning, depth knowledge of the topic, good poetries evokes a special kind of emotions and leaves one gasping for more, the kind writers like Rupi Kaur, Ijeoma Umebinyuo and Nayyirah Waheed makes are something good. Though the three writers has similar things in common, apart from their great writing skill, which is almost edible, they talk more of social status, race, color and the need of self love in a world that demands a lot. Very crafted in their craft, they write amazingly that they reflect the sadness, the joy and the message in just lines that flows like river to the heart of the reader, which I have termed therapeutic, there is nothing in the world that beats a good poem, however you see it.

As some writers’ struggles to conform to the rule that guides poetry, missing the whole necessity to create a message and failing their voice. I will suggest that as good as those rules are, the flavor it adds to poetries, that it isn’t unconventional if written without, though one must not defy the art itself to make a mess of it, conscious writing is still needed. A personal study of the shortlisted book of the NLNG Nigerian prize for Literature “Garri For Breakfast” by Seun Lari- Williams, the book a poetry collection conveys a lot of message, the intriguing part is the voice of the writer which could be felt in every page, it didn’t borrow much of these rules but still achieved poems worth reading, the book which tries to explore the Nigerian living among many social ills employed simplicity to narrate it’s story without leaving no stone unturned.

Poetic works  which tends to achieve its aim of passing information, knowledge, without trying hard to conform to the passed down rules are good too, same goes to works  which adheres to the rules, it doesn’t make any of them bad poems but the need to shift from all these rules will make room for more amazing work filled with sincerity rather than one too conscious to borrow qualities of the Shakespearean poems forgetting that the individual voice matters a lot and we all should be comfortable in it.


Amaka Felly Obioji is a creative writer, poet and lover of African literature. She believes in the need to tell our stories in our own voice without fear and surrounding rules, she believes that difference is normal.


This is an excerpt from Youth Shades Magazine October 2017 Issue. Click here to get the magazine for free.


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