Sunday, February 16, 2014

IS IT ALLOWED TO PUNCH A 'CRITIC' IN THE EYE?

Is It Allowed To Punch A 'Critic' in The Eye?

tailor instructs carpenter
cobbler teaches painter
sailors mocks the pilot
ah! what a foolish lot!

What would you do if as a tailor, you make a dress and a blind musician walks by, admires it and says:
"this is a good work, but it is barren of elements of a dress. Perhaps you should just turn it into an apron or make an actual dress out of it".
This is exactly the case with some so called 'critics' and I met two such yesterday. Everyone with a Facebook account and access to internet becomes  Lord of Literature and it it not only laughable but annoying, especially when such people have no inkling of what they are yapping about.

Yes, a good writer must be willing to take punches from the audience to be able to improve. He or she must buckle up after each jab, with the determination to improve. Yes, that is granted.

But, are writers fools? Barring grammatical inconsistencies and fact misplacement, what really do uninformed critics have a right to take a punch at in a writer's work?

According to the Oxford Dictionary (online):
"literary criticism is the art or practice of judging and commenting on the qualities and character of literary works."
Another website defines it thus:
"Literary criticism is the evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation of literary works. It is usually in the form of a critical essay..."
Should every Tom, Dick and Harry, just because he or she can access a writer's work, make bland statement like someone made on a poem yesterday [ignore the grammatical blunders in the comment]
"Kehinde, ur questions are very meaninful and touching but u hav not make poetry out of your write. ur write is barren of tools of poetry. so, it's either spice it up with poetic ingredients or u simply put finishin touches to make it an Article or Essay. again i said ur message is very important. well done"
I pointed out to the person who made this comment, in a rather caustic way, that it was childish to make such blanket comment, without even offering a simple suggestion of what is missing and what should be done to make the 'barren' poem better.


He wasted no time in countering:
"...it could b better written dat was y i suggested improvement. and on BARREN, i do not mean ur work is a waste dat was y i said "well done" ..."
As if that was not enough, another fellow, obviously still lost in the slave-African mentality added a twist to criticism. As far as he was concerned, all Nigerian poets must be like Americans to be recognised as poets.
"Nigerian poets including me write without learning! When the Europeans write they discover more and learn to write new kinds of poetry. For instance, How many Nigerian poets have tried to write LAI? Some don't even know there is a poem like that....we have to learn to write all kinds of poem...sonnets, Noipoem, Lai, Epitalamium and so on! I hardly see Nigerian poets do this......this is why the Americans and British writer do better than us. Although there are good Nigerian poets, but let us understand that poetry is beyond everyday writing...its about mature writing...!! Right now, I am learning how to write Lai....this has been taking me some time now because it is very technical....take a look at Shakespare sarcatic works.....they are outstanding till date...not because there were no other writers in his days, but because he saw poetry beyond just writing!!"
 So, as far as this man is concerned, any poet who doesn't write 'Lai' (what the hell is that?) is not a poet and his works remain barren. In all these, I see no 'evaluation, analysis, description, or interpretation.'

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the 'barren' poem WHY IS BOKO HARAM? Judge if it is so 'barren':

"Just yesterday I heard a picture screaming loud
From miles away I heard what the rescue teams never heard:

''Why? Why am I here?
Why won’t I say goodbye to my little girl,
Who will deliver the gift that’s now a heap of ash?
Why won’t my baby see her dad again?
What’s my wrong?''

The picture demanded from a confused me
Wanting answers from my crying heart
But I don’t have one
Could I ask the bomb why it exploded?
Or the bullet why it is so cruel?

So if ask I you here and you over there
So you'd ask him, and he them
When we know why Boko is Haram
Maybe then, just maybe
This picture may haunt me not"


Please, is this poem 'barren' of the elements of poetry?

While I am 100% in support of an improvement, I would fight even a Prof. if he were to call this a barren writing that should be turned to prose. By the way, any poem could be turned to prose and all poems tell a form of story in one way or the other...that is not to mention that we have prose poetry.

Now, I am even more annoyed by the fact that these two people who made the comment are not masters at poetry

Here is an excerpt from a poem by the first 'critic':
She said "No"
And ready to be my foe
Cos she has no more water
To quench my fire
Then shouted "That is the truth!"
I become mute

and the American apologist:
Bewixt the venture of the clock
parchance the night owl is our clerk.
There the dare dusk is to cook
amist the very breaking took.


I laugh in Spanish.

If you cannot identify what good poetry is, how do you teach or correct another? 
It is not enough to say "there is something wrong here." Try to identify that 'something' and also try to say what may be done to correct that 'something'.
Lastly, a critic must also understand the writer whose work he is looking at. You don't expect a 17 year old to write poetry like Prof. Soyinka.

Here at WRRPoetry, we try to help each other grow, not attack persons and works - we are the worst of poets trying to be the best. If anyone cannot respect that, please leave our fold.

So, I ask, please, is it allowed to punch a critic, abi na cricket, in the eye?

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