Journalism in the service of society

World Poetry Day special: ‘The Poet as a ‘trio-affective’ literary personality’

By Ola Awakan

THE world of poetry transcends human existence. I will always be quick to say that God is a poet; He created the world out of his powerful poetic expressions. “Let there be light” is poetic. The breath that God gave to Adam was a ‘poetic’ breath. A critical assessment of the religious books would lay credence to the fact that God speaks through His Prophets in a poetic manner. Without mincing words therefore, one needs not argue that Poetry is the most powerful form of literature transferred from one generation to another, orally or non verbally.

I have long wanted to put up a paper on the topic; THE POET AS A TRIO AFFECTIVE LITERARY PERSONALITY. I am actually using this medium for the first draft to express my notion as a plus to the realm of poetry.

According to Leonard Cohen, “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” Leonard knows that how a man behaves is a reaction to his poetic environment; the songs he listens to, the books he reads, the words he speaks and so on. To buttress Leonard’s assertion, Dylan Thomas also points out that “Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own”.

When I started writing poems as an undergraduate, I got so deep in thought that everything around me became elements of inspiration; nature, arts, science, friends to mention a few. I could not help but produce a poem at least a day. I tried my hands in a contest and I got published in a book titled ‘Five Hundred Nigerian Poets‘, compiled by Jerry Agada.

What do I mean by a Poet being a Trio Affective literary personality. I get so excited when I speak on the topic of poetry. If you are one, you would align with my statement. Poetry is enjoyment derived from free use of words with deep meaning. Poetry is minimising words to maximise meaning contrary to Prose, which is maximising words to minimise meaning. When you see a poet, be sure he has positively (or negatively) affected;




In explaining the first, every poem begins from an instinct. You think it before you ink it. Before a poem gets to be read by a second person, the writer firstly devour it and gets influenced by the message and credence of his write up. What you write determines your frame of reference and how you will be considered. When I write, I learn from my write up before I ask people to read my work. So, the first person that a poem affects is the poet.

Secondly, for every poet, after your eyes on your poem, there is someone you give your work for assessment. That effect is what I call the interpersonal effect. One way or the other, that person is touched, inspired by either a verse, stanza or your entire poetic expression. As a poet, have you ever written a poem and the first person you give it to picks it up and after reading through, looks at you and begin to cry, laugh or feel ignited to protest or many other effect. Interpersonal effect makes a poet to review the efficacy of the poem when it gets to the third level.

Mass Effect, being the third is the amorphous audience that indirectly see your poem when you are not physically present. Wole Soyinka is read all over the world and he has influenced many with his poems; even those who have not come across him before in life. Many of us do not know Williams Shakespeare in person, but we have been motivated by his style of poetry. The mass effect that people get from a poem is categorized under this aspect.

“A poet’s work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep”. Those are the words of Salman Rushdie. The powerful effect by poets is invaluable.

No man can ever deny that he has never being influenced by a poet before in life. Take it or leave it, you are a product of poetic expressions. Do you know that before you were born, there was poetic interpersonal expression between your mother and father? Those love words that made your mother agree to your father’s proposal, and the after effect is you. That is poetry!

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