editorial: What is poetry?

zamantungwa | February 16th, 2007 | editorial | No Comments

First, let me attempt to answer what a poet is. Khalil Gibran says,

A poet is a bird of unearthly excellence, who escapes from his celestial realm, arrives in this world warbling. If we do not cherish him, he spreads his wings and flies back into his homeland.”

So, I guess then poetry is the consequence of this unearthly excellence realised or rather excellence conceived, nurtured and birthed for all to bask in its “unearthly” glory.

Living in a world that is filled with senseless terror, constantly we are bombarded with images that prove the ugliness of society. Yet beauty lies dormant unseen between the cracks of our madness. You see, this beauty, this unearthly excellence is everywhere – unseen by most. And beauty – another word hard to define – is never one thing. It is always a little bit of this and a bit of that. Something like this but nothing like that. And while ordinary society trudges ahead in the rat race fighting for survival: too busy, too tired, too illiterate to stop to admire, take in, immerse itself in its own beauty there you will find the poet. The poet (sometimes dressed as a philosopher often looking like insanity personified) ponders life’s loves and hates, takes too seriously life’s ills and pains. And in Gibran’s words the poet goes unnoticed and unappreciated and with the body battered and wings bruised flies away back into the ether… Sepamla, Kunene, Sontonga, Motadinyane, Nxumalo… too many to remember or mention.

It is with the need to recognise and cherish this “bird of unearthly excellence” before it disappears that I give you poetrypotion.com. In this first offering, I present poetry, a closer glimpse at poets, reviews of poetry events, social commentary and a guide on where to find poetry.

In Poetess*, I spoke to Jessica Mbangeni – The Slamming Imbongi – I caught up with her the 10th Annual Poetry Africa in Johannesburg. At the same event, in Durban, I had the honour of meeting a real griot, Alhaji Papa Susso. In Poetry inJustice*, Briggs Bomba contemplates the SABC’s censorship tactics and I discuss the lack of an Afrikan economy in Nigger What!? See our event reviews in Poetry Seen – believe me the standard is high – here we rate the potency of some of our recent poetry events and also let you know what’s happening in the future. And finally, sample some of my favourite poets work manifesting in the ever unearthly excellence of word and visual – in Poetry and Visual Poetry^.

I truly hope that you enjoy this first step and trust that you will not hesitate to offer your thoughts, (praises and criticisms), ideas and send in your poetry, photography and art. Soon Poetry Potion will also accept multimedia work but more on that later.

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in the mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.” Khalil Gibran

editor’s note (31/08/2012): * in the original concept of Poetry Potion i used to call the poet profiles “poetess” and the essay section “poetic injustice” since then i’ve dropped those categories.

^Visual Poetry category is now part of the Poetry Seen category

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