Essayist-in-residence Kabu Okai-Davies waxes lyrical on his relationship with poetry.
The pleasures of poetry rest within the lingering sensation of memory, left behind in the infinite spaces of the mind. Like trails of star dusts, every poem makes love to the reader behind the dark shadows of secret desires. Poetry is like a lover, slipping away after the pleasures of the previous night have come and gone. Only to awake at dawn, to realise it was a dream. At the same time, there are poems that speak of darker dreams, shifting shadows and dissonant voices that echo when the primordial ghosts of memory roamed this ancient earth, haunting the imagination with tales that frighten children in their sleep. These poems speak of worlds empty of love and a bard is walled in by the enigmatic shadow of our human plight.
As a poet, I am aware of the corrupt and cynical vices that define our human existence which includes xenophobic beliefs that shapes our relationships with others. So I brave into the hive of time in search of poems that taste of honey, drenching the earth with lust and opulent tastes in summer. I am epicurean in my tastes for things elegant and seductive, dreaming about lovers dancing in an intercourse of joy by candle light, until the dawn becomes still and cool with dew. Every night we drink wine and saccharine on ice, feasting on cake and strawberry jam, grapes; faking promises of eternal love behind the mask of radiant laughter. With jelly and icing in everyone’s mouth, we read poems, leaving behind trails on the pathways to seduction, for posterity to follow, in the form of epic songs steeped in legend and lore.
Real poems come like whispers, masked with intentions to seduce on the blind side of the night. True poetry surprises us like a fire storm. It burns out our innocent years in summer and by winter, we are bereft of joy hanging on the cliff of time, nursing memories of lovers won and lost, against the moonlit night of our misguided youth. In my youthful years of despair, I used poetry like a weapon fire within the spirit and employed the power of verse to erect street barricades, to start revolutions. In the end, my countrymen and women were left with haunted images of carnage and dread, wishing our idealism did not betray our hopes to send tyrants to the gallows.
I have grown up now, leaving behind my youthful poems that speak of insurrections, wars, and uprisings; locked up in boxes in my late mother’s forbidden bedroom. I have since sought and found new pleasures that sing of spring, summer and autumn in my dreams. There shall be no more winters, except in places where the moon can eclipse the sun across the exotic crescent of Eden’s shore or on a twilight night on Merimbula Bay. Now I read poems that make me drunk beyond my imagination and the expectations of the flesh to remind me of the hay days of my youth.
“You cannot keep a home like this, reading poetry every day. Women love poems but when the babies come, they will curse you for being a poet,” Mother warned.
I rejected her advice and copulated with all the maidens within the vicinity that I could find, reading through every hairy pleasure page of life. I am older now, learnt how to make a living, to keep a family and to know that, the pleasure does not only reside in the seductive images that the poem evokes, but in the hedonism of the mind. The poem becomes the means, to help us touch the sky and reach the virgin climax of our dreams. Poetry fulfils within us the orgasmic joy of life, to float on moving clouds at night across the imaginary sky of every clime.
Every poet is a trailblazer, adventurer, diviner, seeker, magician and a seer. We are on a quest in search of the elixir of life, where the cavemen and women first deciphered the mystery of fire and the magic of leaving finger prints on the rock walls of time. We are the alchemist, seeking to transform lead into gold and to wrestle with heaven to understand the metaphor and secret meaning of the philosopher’s stone. I have travelled to the East and lived in the West, I have seen the snow capped mountains of the North and the pristine beaches of the lands Down Under, and yet, nothing seems to quench my thirst to seize the moments of poetic delight. I want to milk out of each day the sweet pleasures of life, encapsulated in a poem.
If life is a poem in progress, let mine be an epic song about heroes who defied the limitations of time and space and travelled to places unseen by the human eye. I am the poet within my poem, dreamer within the dream and the singer within the song. Let me write poetry to seduce humanity, like a long eternal song, that when future generations read, it would be like the eternal pleasure of love. I want my poetry to be delightful to read, blissful like enchanted dreams and like golden nuggets that makes the world richer and wiser in the coming millennia of time.
Kabu Okai-Davies is an African-Australian playwright, novelist and poet from Ghana. He is the author of Long Road to Africa,Curfew’s Children and Evidence of Nostalgia and Other Stories. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing–UC. He is currently a Visiting Fellow in Writing–School of Arts and Humanities at ANU and the 2015 Alumni Award Winner for Excellence, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. His website is http://kabuokai-davies.com/