On Saturday March 2nd 2013, the I-am-not-so-sure-if-she-practices-law Advocate, Linda Musita and the I-am-very-sure-he-is-no-Best -Theatre-Producer, Teacher Stephen Derwent Partington, both poetry dabblers, were published in Kenya’s Saturday Nation. The one wrote about the need to quarantine some pretenders while the other made a pitch for the need to dis-inhibit creative. The paradox of this was that both were driven by the need for the elevation of literary quality via pruning and grafting. Interestingly, only Linda Musita’s jeremiad received much attention while Partington’s has not received it’s rightful dissection: evidence, at the outset, of the shallowness of the pretender-artists that we have. Incidentally, some answers to Musita’s bile lie (inadvertently) in Partington’s article while the dangers of Partington’s fantasies are spread out ready for a fuck in Linda’s. Probably, naming and shaming is a popular art? That said, let me launch, for now, where the popular is…for even Partington has dipped his pink fingers there.
I want to look at Linda’s cry on three angles? Did she provide a reasonable critique? Are the reactions so far useful? What is my opinion?
On Tuesday, 18th September 2012, Linda Musita posted on her blog the poem IRRATIONAL FUCKS. It goes, Love is rational/It must be rational/Otherwise it is that thing/That puts you in bed/With nothing but your loose labia/No foreskin/And an open heart/Irrational fucks will follow. (Linda Musita, 2012). Like this poem, Linda’s article is an example of loose labia experiencing rational and irrational fucks in the guise of love. The idea of the critique began well and with great intent. It identified the true problem and then went ahead to create more problems. Several truths ought to be acknowledged and worked on. It is true that poetry (like the theatre and prose writing before it) has now been infiltrated by individuals seeking refuge from their joblessness and inabilities to steady their love and sex affairs so much so that they imagine that their narratives and conversations equate to poetry. We have a bunch of people so wonderfully passionate about some issues but who refuse to appreciate that they have not the talent and capacity to express these poetically. Thus bar-talk and street-talk and hunger-talk and fucklessness is no being bandied around as poetry and of course our media give them the forum towards ‘celeb’-ness.
Linda also launches into Wamathai rightly and with hypocrisy in equal measure. The true critique is that Wamathai should, in his capitalistic bourgeoisie nature realize that parasitic parading of artists for monetary gain should now command an artists’ tax. Performers have to be paid and poetry has to pay. I am incompetent about commenting on Wamathai’s creativity, but I certainly believe that it is an act of economic thievery to steal from artists. But again Wamathai may argue that his forum acts as a springboard for upcoming artists and that that may be enough payment. Let the jury answer to that. The hypocrisy Linda indulges in is the non-disclosure that she too is a businesswoman via whose Lesleigh Kenya they dream of having fora a la Wamathai’s. Let money-seekers take their cutthroat tactics to the stock-exchange.
Linda also exposes the stupid narcissism of our pretender poets, with the example of El Poet’s infantile storming out. It is a truth that our well-known ‘artists’ are egoistic nincompoops, satisfied with the ‘wow’ feedback from their ‘fans’ and totally illiterate to constrictive literary criticism. They are the Facebook ‘Comments’ and ‘Likes’ counting pumbavus who will never grow from listening out. Mavi ya kuku kabisa.
Thus we may say that Linda has contributed to poetic development in a way. But Musita is equally guilty of bringing the art of literary criticism to disrepute, as she seems to promote intra-practitioners’ hostilities rather than natural symbiosis between creators and appreciators. She seems to draw more attention to herself rather than to the art of poetry. Her article does not show any appreciation of the art, context and knowledge of poetry save for the use of the word ‘poem’ and its derivatives! A student of poetry would not understand what her definition is and what elements are used to determine good and bad poetry. She has no evidence of the ‘gunia-ism’ of El Poet nor the saintliness of Beth Nduta. She doesn’t mask her love for Michael Onsando. Her name-dropping ni kama ndrama, ni kama findio! And then she undresses and exposes her shameful ujinga by suggesting that knowing (Arthur) Luvai is a measure of poetic competence. She has nothing concrete about Clifton Gachagua save for the regurgitative reporting of news. Sinfully, her praise of Beth Nduta and Julie Auma is at best lesbianic and totally un-useful to the poor, named ladies. For what is The Vaginal Trilogue but a verisimilitude hogwash struggling to go the way of the irritating ‘wordsmith’ that is (and was) Caroline Nderitu? If this treatise by Linda Musita is a the vision that Lesleigh Kenya seeks, then they are best wekwa tairi ukiona hao!
Reactions by ‘poets’ and ‘artists’ to Linda Musita’s moment in the Saturday Nation depicts an unfathomably stupid generation of ‘stars’. Everyone seems to be fantastical and guarded in defending themselves or their friends or fuckmates or, possibly, kith and kin. Other responses are simply a plea to be accepted in the ‘collegiate’ of artists. Of course within those reactions there are some gems to be taken home and acted upon. I dare say that we suffer from a worrying knack of the acceptance of mediocrity. This will take us nowhere. Clifford Oluoch Chianga teaches well on the need to critique works rather than individuals. Of course Mehul Gohil struggles to shove Clifton Gachagua down people’s throats with his narrow slit eyes. For whereas he opines well on the potent effect of right diction, he needs to temper his late-adolescence excitement with words lest Gachagua is deeply uncovered.
Then there is the stinking hogwash being propagated by the likes of Mercy Ouko that the field of poetry is big enough to carry everyone and their crap. Bullcrap. That field should only fit poets…pretenders should sit in the periphery and drink hot water. Competence in poetry is not democracy! SDP argues well on the distinction between spoken and written poetry and the circumstances that may affect its appreciation. I am only worried that he too begins to praise sing like did Peter Oloo Aringo. G-Master Masese exposes himself vibaya and proves that Linda Musita did not knife him well enough. Does not a tiger ignore trigritude and pounce instead? El Poet’s reaction was really bitter-sweet, but his advise and condemnation of Linda shows that the two should from now seek each other, and deform the both sawasawa. In my opinion and away from poetry, El Poet is currently cuter than Linda Musita (Tihihihiihiiii)! Meshack Sewe is probably close to committed poetic cleansing as was Christopher Okigbo. But I disagree with his line in ‘IMPRISONED POET’ where he goes, ‘…Why fear to remove your virgin hat fearing you will be judged?/Isn’t poetry a free dance whose members are self charged/. No, it is not free dance this!
Bottom line, I think the reactions generally show that our kind of generation is not ready for good poetry and good criticism. We have a hoard of nincompoops still indulging in ‘poetry’ and ‘spoken shit’ as a democratic right, aping black American bullshit. We probably now need to begin a critique of individual ‘poems’ and continue our sex elsewhere. Somehow our ‘poets’ are worryingly demonstrating primitive energy while our critics are spewing doomsday energy. We are just as wrong as we are stumblingly right!
In the end, I interpret that when SDP says that ‘…we cannot let our present crop of new writers suffer…’, he too may mean that we need to learn and provide fulsome literary dissection while at the same time striving to create quintessential poems for reference and quotation. It is a process of ‘becoming’ and as we struggle towards it, let Linda’s irrational fucks lead to a conception of true poetic triumph. To paraphrase my poem, READING THE MINDS OF MADMEN,
“I have opened and read the mind of poets and critics/And, sadly/They are all books poorly written about each other!”