Have you ever been kissed by a poem? Eyes closed and smelly breath? The build up, the groping for self?
This is my love story.
Save for the fact that I was the brightest kid from the first time I set my uncertain feet in school, English/Literature was my favorite subject and still is. It pays my bills, feeds and clothes my ass. Has taken me places. Met strange faces. Laid a few asses. Smoked and drank with assholes. So I discovered my love for poetry in high school – somewhere in Form Two.
I used to write bullshit. I still do, only that now people can actually read it and listen to me read it and they think it is nice bullshit. They snap their fingers if some line sounds funny. Mostly they miss the point (thanks to ‘Spoken Word’) but thank you. I love ya’ll too.
“Poems are bullshit.
Poems are bullshit and they are useful.”
(God rest his rebel and Black Consciousness soul in Eternal Word.)
Yes, I used to write bullshit for my young-book-loving self because I had a crush on several light-skinned girls some who broke my heart and some who hugged me every morning at Sirikwa Academy (now Potter’s House). And they smelled good. I would scribble a few lines too for boys who wanted to impress some hard-white-stuff-producing nippled lasses when mandazi and dengus failed to impress them. I would also write out of anger because I was young and rebellious and wanted everything my way. Life tends to whip asses of such egoistic assholes pretty bad. Blisters.
I remember using every goddamn book I received as a prize for the As in English and composition writing for poetry (bullshit) writing. I destroyed all of them after joining campus to study Journalism. Don’t ask me why I’m not on TV yet. I’ve touched more lives than reading an Auto Cue in a borrowed accent could. Change of faculty.
Still in high school, teachers took note of my ‘gift’. I remember reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet from my big bro’s personal library and didn’t understand shit but I read anyway. I still don’t like Shakespeare’s work, though Merchant of Venice wasn’t that bad as a set book. I don’t like Maya Angelou’s poems either or Langston Hughes. I have a problem with everything popularized. I’m selfish, I like being different. I’m critical as fuck. That means I have only watched Tear Drop once at AM Live and dismissed his ‘punchlines’ on the spot, despite my girlfriend’s enthusiasm that I should also take my poetry ‘out there’. Whatever.
After reading Romeo and Juliet, I used a few lines in class just to show-off in one writing competition and the whole school was like, “Yo! Ochoki wee ni mbaaaya!” I was in Form Two. So I got mad and kept writing. I couldn’t stop. Lyrics (2 Pac, Biggie, DMX, Eminem, Ukoo Flani were my influence before I discovered REAL underground Hiphop later.), poems (some silly love shit) and essays. I couldn’t stop. I bought a copy of ‘Echoes Across the Valley’ anthology by Cook and Rubadiri (they/I still use that in teaching and I think it’s time KIE/KLB endorsed a new, apt anthology) and read and analysed every goddamn poem by myself. It felt exhilarating. I wanted to write like those folks! Laban Erapu! All of them!
Graduating from high school, the most inspiring thing to date was that the principal noted the gift and wrote that in my Leaving Certificate. How cool is that? See, I was never a sport’s person. I still am not. Fuck football or whatever niggaz yell about all day at the work place. I rather watch WWE, which I don’t because I don’t watch TV. So all I did was read or write when other kids were out in the field jumping and yelling. When you fall in love, you become obsessive. Poetry became my bitch. I loved her, licked her in all imaginable crevices and mounds. I wrote ‘Caged’, a poem that won The Best Scripted Verse’ category during the Drama Festival somewhere in Western province. I never looked back. Don’t intend to.
I joined EPA and then founded One Night Stand with Oyatsi Simon, Ordinary Mind and Steve Otieno, the best poetry platform in this Rift Valley and Western Kenya. Some of the best souls I’ve ever met! The Law of Vibration. You can only attract people and events in your life that are in harmony with your Self; with your most genuine intentions. Namaste, folks.
I’m still growing. In my writing, I use the simplest grammar I know. I communicate better this way though I aspire to write like Omondi Ochuka (that niccur though!), Eddy Ongili and Steve Otieno. Then there’s Saul William’s metaphors and Hiphopoetry! Then the political ‘complex simplicity’ of Amiri Baraka and the humour of Laban Lo Liyong! So despite the awards and popularity in this part of the rift, I am just a baby. A Negro toddler. A black thought. A sigh of the gods. A street poet. A philosopher. A messiah. (Yes, I have ego too, goddammit! So…). A rebel. A thinker. A black monk. An ascended master. A critic, a killer, a lover. A mason. A God. A man. A child. A syllable. An ‘Ohm’. I AM.
I want to write better. Be a demon on stage. Shoot videos too. Publish hard copy anthologies. Lecture about Poetry, Philosophy and Hiphop (the Holy (motherfucking) Trinity of Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom) to the world and the streets.
I want to become a poem. I want to do things.
Good things. Good, good things. Great things.
Now, if you are reading this, when did you fall in love with poetry? How was your first kiss? Did you cum when a poem made love to you? Where was it? In class, on stage, at project benches, in the rain, in bed, in church or by the street walk?