Sentinel Poetry (Online) #37

3rd Anniversary Issue – December 2005

ISSN 1479-425X






Readers’ comments on Issue #36 (November 2005)


I think of the poems, all of which had something of worth, the one by Meghan Casey seemed to have reached an originality of voice and purity of vision and truth that was particularly striking.


The editorial by Amatoritsero was quite fascinating; but did seem at times to expect a purity of intent, a rather staid inner honesty from poets and writers that might be just a little too strait-laced and restrictive. Surely in history there have been great writers and poets (and artists) who are bad people? and who were not even particularly sincere or honest in their creative motives and outpourings?


Is it really possible to say, for example, that a slave owner could not write decent poetry? When Rimbaud was writing his stuff, surely he had within him (at the same time) the spirit and potential to write great poetry, and equally the spirit and potential (albeit dormant) to be a slave owner? Not only did that element in his character not prevent his creativity, but maybe it was even a necessary ingredient in his creative make-up. Could Engels not write revolutionary tracts because he was a capitalist? Are his ideas thereby devalued? Didn't Leopardi, the Italian poet, write of love (and write well) even if the poor chap never really got round to the practice of it? Can't a writer write against his nature? against his social position or environment? against his experience? Should we ignore Lord Rochester's verse because he was just a diseased, privileged, debauched aristocrat? or is there still some intrinsic worth or truth in his stuff? What about artists such as Caravaggio and Cellini? (weren't they bad guys?)


Couldn't someone, for example, be a complete waste of space morally, socially and individually and yet still manage to write something that transcends his/her nature, outlook, and limitations?


Alan Hardy, UK




I like "the engagement with the truth" you pointed out with Wilfred Owen...I

believe it always take one to know one. Those who have themselves suffered are best at this encounter because their experience helps them sense the inner struggle of others, I have read the Letter to Martha and also some of Dennis Brutus’ work in the book, Afroerotique and the truth in their poetry were so raw that the power can be felt, that I, what I try to do being raw as I can be. Thanks for the editorial


Urdeen Sylvester, Nigeria



The edition looks good. You’ve really come into your own with this, especially with the editorials. This is the second, I think. Good stuff. I love Davide Trame’s poetry, and will be checking out the others too. As for the Guest Poet, Rob Mclennan, there’s a way one imagines a poet would look – and he really cuts it.


Molara Wood, UK




Goodwork! My recent early hours visit to the online home of the Sentinel Poetry magazine was worth all the sleeplessness. The evident hard work of the Editor and Publisher provided readers with an excellent choice of poems and accompanying visuals in the November Issue. Thanking Victor Ehikhamenor for the celebratory colours of his painting, 'The Masquerades Are Laeaving.' I lean towards Amatoritsero's editorial position in his essay on Truth and Poetry. But I am also aware that in this continuing era of contextual readings and interpretations, defining the truth of a poem and identifying what value to place on that truth is sometimes like negotiating a minefield. For me, the poet Malgorzata Kitowski was the revelation of the November Sentinel. But there was also much to be gained from the experience of the Guest Poet, Rob Mclennan, whom Amatoritsero interviewed. Altogether, great stuff from the Sentinel. More! More!


Afam Akeh, UK




I throway salute O! I hope bodi dey fine for inside cloth?


Now, congrats on your November edition of the sentinel online mag; I profoundly enjoyed those materials there and that editorial, Truth and Poetry which I read and re-read.


You threw up profound issues in your editorial that should, in my opinion, set the agenda for discourse as they relate to Nigerian poetry. If what you outlined should be taken in for discourse(s), I doubt if the magazine can take, too, the arguments that must ensue.


I am interested in exploring those heuristic possibilities and potents of that editorial. And by so doing, mark and explore the boundaries of our poetics and textual aesthestics. The experience should be the Nigerian poetry. I think you have set out that explosive process of achieving that.


How? I am trying to arrange and engage the best of our traditions and experience (yourself, Adesanmi, Nwankama, Oguibe, Ogaga, Afam, Obiwu and possibly a female Nigerian poet I have not settled on yet) in an email-assisted discourse. I will be posing the questions arsing from your editorial and expect responses from poets, scholars and critics as I have outlined above. The body of discourses will, hopefully, form the subject for publication in Autumn of 2006.


What do I need now? I ask that you grant me permission to reproduce that editorial when requesting participants' partcipation in the email-based discussion.


Thanks in anticipation of your kind permission.


Obemata, UK




I have been reading bits and pieces of Sentinel Poetry #36. In between things that one must do, I have found myself returning again and again to Cecelia my laptop to get some more of that volume. It is an impressive body of work, if I may say so. And an eclectic group of thinkers. Wow! Like Alan Hardy, I found Ama's editorial (Truth and Poetry) quite fascinating. There is plenty to agree with there and plenty to disagree with. But reasonable people can agree to disagree. And I am a reasonable person ;-)


I am working on a piece that I intend to be a response of some sorts to the issues raised in Ama's editorial. I have said quite a bit on the subject in the past and the piece would actually be a compilation of my thoughts on writing, the medium and the writer. And the writer's obligation to the society. I will of course be writing on behalf of all those pseudo-poets out there that are trying mighty hard to crowd out the purists. If there is no urgency to finishing that piece, it is because I was immensely comforted by the beautiful words of Ama's interviewee, Rob Mclennan. He sums up the burden of my thoughts thus:


"Poetry is not what it used to be, and no longer needs to be what it started out doing. Poetry was originally used for storytelling, and keeping an aural history. Thanks to novels, CNN, movies, non-fiction, and various other media, poems no longer need to tell stories. So the question becomes, what should a poem be doing? If I have a story to tell, shouldn't I be using the novel or short story form? If I have an issue to get across, shouldn't I be writing an essay? If I have a history to tell, shouldn't I be writing a non-fiction book or producing a documentary for television? It forces the consideration of the poem to move into further territory, I think. I am interested in exploring that territory. Of what a poem isn't "supposed" to be. But so many of these considerations are completely arbitrary. It's poetry; we can do whatever we want."


And hear him again:


" Was it Gertrude Stein who said that writing has to be as close to living as possible? I don't remember. I could have the credit completely wrong on this one. I have always considered (for my own work), that to write of the world, I also have to live in the world. I find it strange to hear a writer proudly exclaim that they don't own a television. Good, bad or otherwise, television (and movie) culture is a part of the world we live in. Mass culture doesn't necessarily mean bad. The division of high and low culture as being "bad" vs. "good" I find rather small-minded, and I think it causes the writing that comes out of it to lose a whole bunch of credibility. I'm not arguing that a piece of writing can't speak to me unless the author watches The Simpsons, but to exclude a whole element of mass culture and still profess to work within the bounds of the world seems a strange consideration to me (but I've never pretended to understand too many things). I read multiple newspapers every day, read poetry, fiction and non-fiction, watch new movies almost every Saturday with my lovely daughter, watch hours of both good and bad television, and own over six thousand comic books. There is something to be learned, I think, from every medium."


I love this dude. He gets it, he really does. Anyway, Ama, I promise to finish stapling together my personal opinions and you must promise to give me space on your journal to air my views. On behalf of all those interlopers and pseudo poets out there. If you don't I'll publish them anyway. The Internet rocks ;-)


All seriousness aside, Ama, please accept my sincere appreciation for all the work that I am sure went into this volume. Reading it has been a sheer delight so far. Lord Ama, much props for a job well done. You are definitely pursuing your passion and it shows. I look forward to consuming more of this in the future! I could say more but life calls. Stay tuned!




Your favourite interloper, pseudo-poet and pseudo-critic


- Ikhide, USA



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