WORLD POETRY DAY: Delta Literary Forum lights up Asaba

By Albert Ograka

The Delta Literary Forum (DLF), on Thursday, March 21, 2024, celebrated the Word Poetry Day with fanfare and glamour, as poets in Delta State, thronged out to mark the event with stupefaction, enthusiasm and glamour, following the rendition of iconic poetry by poets and selected students at the prestigious Chike Edozien Secretariat in Asaba.

The DLF executive had visited Trend FM 100.9, Asaba. to unveil strategies aimed at achieving a fovourable and successful ‘world’ acclaimed event with upbeat feat., where the Chairman, Alonu Azua, Vice Chairman, Ben Adigwe Esq., Albert Ograka, Secretary and Joseph Nwamana, Public Relations Officer, respectively enthused on the basics of poetry and anchored by the General Manager, Christopher Ashiedu (Belushi).

The epoch making event was organized under the chairmanship of trail blazing amazon, renowned environmentalist and Literary Icon Chief Newton Jibunor (Desert Warrior), ably represented by Melvis Ugo Chidera, who thrilled the audience with her performance Poetry about the pride of African womanhood in gaiety and splendor. Her splendid oral rendition was on “The Nigeria we want” and “No art, no history.”

Among the selected schools that participated in the event, are Marble Hill School, Osadenis Mixed Secondary School, Government Model Secondary School and Asagba Mixed Secondary School, respectively in Asaba, the state Capital.

A frontline member and co-founding poet of the Delta Literary Forum (DLF), David Diai, who read some poems from Izuma, a collection of poems by Albert Ograka, espoused on the necessity of Poetry as a societal healing balm.

Also, the soft-spoken literary heiress and notable statistician, Nkechi Maduemezia, read her new poem, titled, Priced Jewel and other poems from her celebrated works.

In his opening address, Chairman of the Forum, Alonu Azua, in his opening address titled, “Taking Poetry By The Tail” said,
I told a friend of mine about this day. The poetry day that the United Nation commanded us to celebrate and he laughed and asked me: Would poems reduce the prices of essential food items and I said no but they will sensitize the people, strengthen them for the days ahead. The will of the ordinary people will not be broken in this season of depleted hope. The current phase of despondency will fade away. I believe that optimism is hiding behind the cloud of despair. Soyinka sees the treasury as depleted and the economy bankrupt. I see the economy as withering,
Some of our citizens do not think that the situation can be redeemed but I believe that vultures eat dead animals. The current situation require skillful, knowledgeable people and government should reach out for them as we are in a national emergency because land marks are vanishing and some people who hold the purse-string are looking remorseless. What will poetry do? Many do not see poetry as serving purpose. Today it might seem good and comfortable to write prose and plays or take a more expansive route of biographies, travelogue and other non-restrictive writing, the space we keep for poetry can feel as if it is shrinking. Writing poetry, reciting it and dramatizing it in some quarters seem out of fashion. But what a mistake? What would other genres of literature do without poetry?
Did our own poet Christopher Okigbo not say in his lament of the masks, Two arms can never alone encircle a giant. In that memorable poem he lamented:

Night breezes drum on the plantain leaf, let the plantain leaf take over the dance.
Poetry’s flame is burning and the United Nation and the world know that poets and poetry are the bones of any language. The great poet Niyi Osundare said Tomorrow bids us tread, softly, wisely, justly, lest we trample the eye of the earth.
For me poetry is the eye of our language. Poems are the very interested, the inner organs of language; which seemingly exposes the beauty, the strength, and wisdom that our language carry. Poems are the life-wire of all languages. The power of thoughts is in poetry.
A poet’s life and work is dedicated to revealing to humanity the condition of the soul or man. It minors the condition of the earth. Look at Ogaga Ifonodo’s oil lamp which has became a classic. He chronicles the horrid details of the Niger – Delta oil degradation when he described it as a cesspit. He talked about the Ogoni agony, the Odi massacre. And in mirroring the condition in Nigeria, the poet Albert Ograka wrote in his poem titled wasted
Vain glory
Stale story
All my labour
Turns sour
I have become weak
In all I seek
All in vain
None is gain

The poet is obviously frustrated with the condition that he sees. Like Moses he had a rod but he did not know what the rod embodies until God asked him to throw it down and it turned to a serpent. And when God asked Moses to take the serpent by the tail, it turns into rod. The rod of the poet is his poems and I dare poets all over the world to take their poems by the tail and it will turn to rod. What is the tail of the poems. It is not the metaphors or other figures of speech in their poems, but the words, the innocuous words and phrase that form the body of the poems. The words the poets give a different meaning as they write are the tails.
Recently, I was reading some books of poems that I had forgotten on my shelf: Izuma by Albert Ograka, Ash Flakes by David Diai, Oil Lamp by Ogaga Ifowodo and Christopher Okigbo’s Labyrinth. I savoured them in my sunlit back yard and concluded that poetry has itss uniqueness. I sampled yet again some poems from Black Africa edited by Wole Suyinka. They were sumptuous. Then I ended up with two poems like Agishur Nelo, Adia Ofo poems from black Africa. They were sumptuous Then I ended up with two poems I wrote: Odogwu Iselegu and Unene. I enjoyed the beauty and melody of those poems.
Suddenly Song of the season peeped out of my shelf. I picked it and I saw this poem.
Is the doctor
Who heals
By killing
The patient
Sallah Season
And the market forces
Proclaim the virtues of
The rope glided
From the neck
Of the ram
Straight to the neck
Of our ailing pockets

Poets make the tail of the poetry – those words, strange words, phases, familiar words made to expand in meaning in the context of the poet’s use. Pharoah’s magicians reproduced the sign but they could not hear the voice of God. Non poets write beautifully to capture their thoughts and their situation but poets make the reader raise a song and go into the dancing floor.
This year’s theme for the poetry day is: Standing on The Shoulders of Giants. Who are our giants: Dennis Osadebay, Wole Soyinka, J.P Clark, Niyi Osundare, Tanure Ojaide, Ogaga Ifowode, Remi Raji, Odia Ofemeim, Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo – They smoothened our path, they cracked our kernels. I pay great tribute to them all. Listen to Christopher Okigbo again.
They put you into the eaves thatch
You split the thatch,
They poured you into an iron mould
You burst the mould.
Thank you very much, I salute you all.

Azua Alonu, is a poet and Chairman Delta Literary Forum, Asaba.
21 March, 2024.

Azua Alonu, a poet and Chairman Delta Literary Forum, Asaba, was supported at the high table by Ms. Melvis Ugo Chidera, representative of Chairman of the occasion, Chief Newton Jibunor (Desert Warrior), Mr Lucky Adah, Proprietor Seat of Wisdom Academy, Asaba, Dr. Don Emenike, Director EED Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi-Uku, Dr Steve Oseafiana, Ogwashi-Uku Polytechnic, Mrs. Nkechi Maduemezia, author and Director of statistics at the state Ministry of Economic Planning, and Vincent Ugbune, representing Mr. Innocent Ogboru, Chairman of Delta state Library Board.

Vice chairman of the forum, Ben Adigwe Esq, performed a poem titled, He who buys my thoughts by Chief Dennis Osadebe, former premier of Mid-West region in Nigeria.

Prominent poet, senior journalist and Co-founder of the Delta Literary Forum, David Diai performing two poems titled, Who sells in silence and Izuma by Albert Ograka. Diai is currently a senior political aide to the Delta state Commissioner for Information, Ifeanyi Osuoza PhD.

To be continued

News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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