A poem should be available universally-Prof.Laban Erapu

Day one of The AWT Poetry Training workshop was held on Tuesday, 3rd December 2019 at AWT offices, Kyaliwajjala-Namugongo. The participants represented a number of poetry organisations such as Kitara Nation, Echo Minds Poets, Kelele At Makerere, Lantern Meet Foundation, and the rest were solo acts, not affiliated to any organization. The workshop was led by one of Uganda’s celebrated poets and Literature professor, Laban Erapu. The theme of the workshop was, Understanding the Business of Poetry.

The workshop was opened with a discussion on the basics of poetry. What it is and what it’s not. Prof.Laban Erapu dwelt on the types of poetry and here is why, in his own words, `so that poets can make an effort to diversify the types of poetry they write as well as the kinds of poems they experiment with. It`s not good enough to stop at free verse and not explore the entire poetic repertoire at some stage or other in one `s experience as a poet.’’

Prof.Laban Erapu during a session

The types of poems range from the Haiku, free verse, acrostic, lullaby, sonnet and many others. Prof.Laban reminded the participants that they don`t have to write all these types but they should know them.  As part of a writing exercise, the participants were tasked to write a haiku and acrostic poem. The acrostic poem is one in which a whole sentence describing the title can be read down the first word of each line. Here is a sample of an acrostic poem by one of the participants.

If Africa Was a Man

If I was to have a man,

Africa would be the perfect definition of my type of man

Was it not Africa that wore a crown of star dust and anklets of silver?

A heart in shape of gold only nature would brighten into

Man that would have been mine only

The day ended with a session on editing poetry. A scary endeavor in Prof.Laban`s words but once it is practiced, the journey of creating your best work can be empowering. Prof.Laban gave participants tips on editing poetry;

  • Edit your poetry so it cuts to the bone.
  • Let the opening line of the poem be powerful.
  • Pay attention to imagery, tone and language in a poem. The heart of poetry is to create an image understood by all.
  • Read a poem at least twice before attempting to alter it.
  • Titles can do a lot of heavy lifting for the poem and is often the first impression left on the reader-so you want to make sure you`ve chosen a good one.
Participants were tasked to collectively create a poem titled,NOTHING
Participants discussing during a session
Participants listening to Prof.Laban Erapu during one of the sessions
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