Poetry Association of Malawi (Pam) has called on poets in the country to unite to propel the discipline.
Pam President, Chisomo Mdalla, popularly known as Nyamalikiti Nthiwatiwa, said this in an interview ahead of the World Poetry Day which falls on March 21 every year.
The day was declared by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and its purpose is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.
“We need to be united and avoid working in isolation. We, as Pam, are a registered organisation and, so, we call upon poets to become members because the membership is still very low. It helps in a lot of ways to be a member because we can give you support in times of need,” Nyamalikiti said.
He said they fight for the best interest of poets by, among other things, ensuring that they are not being exploited.
He said Pam will not be holding an activity tomorrow and, over the weekend, but is happy that others are doing it.
“Some of the poets doing activities to commemorate the day are our members. We would have loved to do our own show but, for now, we do not have enough resources,” the Pam leader said.
He said, for now, they are trying to find resources and that they are optimistic that they will get there.
“We have plans but we do not want to be vocal on the plans before things materialise,” Nyamalikiti said.
Nyamalikiti, who commands respect in the poetry industry and has travelled extensively representing Malawi in international festivals, hailed people for the support they are giving to poetry.
“Poetry is the fastest growing genre of arts in the country but we, as a group, are the least funded. We thank those who are using poets in their activities, patronising shows and buying our CDs,” he said.
Nyamalikiti called on fellow poets to continue doing their best.
He was, however, quick to say that artists need to stand up and speak on the issues happening in the country.
“We, as poets or artists, have the platform and we need to utilise this platform to dig deeper into various issues and hold leaders accountable,” he said.
With some quarters voicing out concerns that poets are mistaking poetry for comedy, Nyamalikiti said:
“You learn to be good. Poetry can be humorous but there are things that make poetry to be poetry. You can be so many things but there is need to have integrity,” he said.
Nyamalikiti said some poets need training.
“The first thing we need to look at is training. Poets’ skills have to be honed so that their work should be viable and relevant out there,” the poet said.
He said poets should take time to improve on their own by reading, listening and watching others.
Nyamalikiti added that the association improving its database and creating links with the outside world so that poets in the country should have chances of performing in international poetry festivals.
Meanwhile, Vilipanganga Poetry Movement and Sapitwa Poetry have organised a poetry feast at Kwa Haraba Art Gallery and Café in Blantyre on March 24.
Vilipanganga Movement Chairperson, Yankho Seunda, said this is part of commemorating World Poetry Day.
“We could not manage to hold it on the very same day tomorrow and, so, we pushed it to the weekend,” Seunda said.
Dubbed ‘Born of Art’, the event will bring poets such as Robert Chiwamba, Phindu Banda, Muyanga, Rodwell Lumbe, Yangie and Rabie Kondowe.
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