By Yona Gondwe

First things first. I am a northerner, and I am also a poet. Most of you know me as Yona Mlakatuli. Of course, I am a writer too.

Over the years, it has been paining me seeing poetry, especially from the northern region growing at a snail’s pace. Get me right here; I am not saying poetry is not making it up north. No! It is, but comparing to the other regions, poetry from this otherwise green region, is relatively silent.

So what could be the problem? How can we bail poetry (from the north) from ‘extinction’?  Well, having been in the game and having dined with some of the country’s crème in this industry, I feel I have some insights that can uplift the face of poetry in the north.

Secondary schools have ever proved to be favourable nurseries to nurture talent. Evidence is there from almost all sectors of the arts and sports whereby legends had been groomed from their secondary school days. I therefore feel introduction of Arts and literary clubs (that include poetry as well) in our various secondary schools can greatly shape young talents.

Not only should the clubs be in existent but also they have to be active. Having poetry festivals where clubs could be outsmarting each other could also bring this vibe to another level. Such galas can enhance the poetry spirits in our young talents in the region.

Above all, entertainment centres can also tap in from our spoken word artists by organizing poetry fiestas as well. Imagine having frequent spoken word shows, just like is the case with other regions. Spending some nice weekends whilst feasting one’s eyes and ears to vibrant poets from this region could make an interesting sight to many. Having such concerts now and again may or can make people from this region internalize the art and can easily become part of their everyday pastime activity.

It is a fact that the region in question has a legion of poets, unfortunately, a majority of them highly underrates itself. So, I feel having frequent poetry trainings and workshops can act as a remedy where these self-underrated poets can be encouraged by accumulating some mind tips to avert their current status quo.

What more? Poets from this region need to wake up and realize that they can make themselves more marketable by distributing their talents to various media outlets. Having poetry compilations be it an anthology or an audio collection and doing poetry collaborations with fellows from across the country, just like the way it is with musicians. Such compilations and collaborations sharpen one’s skills and hence promote it as well.

Lastly, I feel it is high time poets utilize the availability of the new media such as the internet and make theirselves visible. Having one’s poems online is time saving and also a sure way of reaching out to the wider fan base, locally and internationally.

I know, I can go on and on unpacking some of the solvents to dissolve the misery that is the snail’s pace of poetry in the northern region. Let me stop here.



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