By Israel Ibekwe

POETS from across Nigeria recently gathered in Lagos to honour Odia Ofeimun as he clocked 70.

The event was under the banner of Poetourism, an initiative of poets designed to promote travels and tours among poets for informed enlightenment on happenings in different climes, so as to inspire them to crafting more lines of poetry. The first edition of Poetourism was successfully held at Epe, Lagos State in 2019.

The coincidence of hosting Poetourism on World Poetry Day 2020 was both welcoming and pleasing, as poets, writers and literary minds maximised the opportunity of the tour for their respective good and that of their immediate environments.

The tour was centered on visits to the Niger Delta Hall of Fame and OYASAF which stands for Omoba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation.

Comrade Joseph Angodeme Evah, one of the hosts, said: “Poets are deep thinkers, a society without deep thinkers is no where to be found, that society is useless”.

The tour round the Niger Hall of Fame was an eye opener on the Niger Deltans who have done greatly in various fields.

Evah encouraged poets to write more on the ills of the society for a change in the government and a better Nigeria for everybody.

On the same note, Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon owner of OYASAF, said the organization was established in 2007 to promote the appreciation and study of Nigerian art.

Ofeimun, who was the guest speaker, urged youths in Nigeria to rise up to making right things that are wrong in the country.

“Stop treating yourself as just youth, you’re just as much as a builder of Nigeria as whoever the other person is who may be older than you,” he said. Speaking on poetry, he said, “Poetry is not something you do for a while, it is something you do for a life time which must outlive you.

“To be an artist means that you’re capable of producing something that will outlive you. It is good that there’s a world poetry day so that on a special day you can choose to just read any poem you like and engage all the poets you like in the world even the poets you don’t like because in the end there are poets you may not like but who challenge you to create.”

On the issue of poetry and national development, Ofeimun said, “what poets are supposed to do is to develop the language of the tribe or the race or whoever, because if you don’t develop the language you use, your capacity to relate to the next person is blunted, and when people do not relate to themselves, there’s nothing they do that works well. We must have the ability to link people together, nothing does it well than language, and if you’re looking for something that develops language, nothing does it better than poetry.”

“World Poetry Day happens to be a day where poets are supposed to simply luxuriate in the idea of been poets and to bring different kinds of poems and different kinds of poets together in a way that makes for a celebration, celebration is not only about the beautiful things in the world, celebration is also about knowing the mix of the beautiful and the non beautiful, and at the end of the day it may be the non beautiful things in the world that challenge you to do the most exciting things in the area of creativity.”

Eriata Oribhabor, President of Poets in Nigeria, while giving the motive for the programme, said: “The motive of Poetourism is to promote tourism via poetry, we want to see that poets don’t remain in one environment they’re always moved around for them to get more inspired, when you sit in one place inspirations won’t come but when you travel from place to place you begin to see things that will excite you.

The event featured various poetry performances from various poets in Nigeria and a guest poet Ozzy Bob from Australia.

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