An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.  ~Charles Horton Cooley

I love art. I do not understand a thing about peace, love, and maturity on paintings and photography but I marvel in the beauty of it. I remember seeing a picture on display at Goethe Institut, of a dried Flamingo skeleton on the shores of the lake; I found this picture disgustingly beautiful through the artistic eye. Art is beauty. I am happy that Nairobi has opened its arms to embrace new arts; poetry, music, fashion and the likes.

My specificity here is however limited to the art of spoken word, seeing as yesterday was the World’s Poetry Day. I respect all poets who manage to collect bundles of courage to stand in front of perky crowds boiling on the tenterhooks, waiting for you to miss a mark or some in the rhyme, to forget a word or two…or even to satisfy their ears, as you should. Many of us own words that have never been moulded into a sound in the mouth, not even one that is swallowed back into the throat…so I salute you all poets who perform their pieces.

The likes of Wanjiku Mwaura that have taught us to ‘speak continental’ even when she’ just doesn’t like you’, to Kenneth B’s inimitable style that brings all languages under one roof, concocting humorously unmatched pieces. From Kevin Waithaka’s archetype ‘Man Njoro’ to Checkmate Mido’s unusual talent of beat boxing that he is so often kind with, siring drums and sticks from his mouth to those that need a beat for their performances. I cannot name them all but one ardent reader of this column can never be left out, Michael Onsando. These and all the others that have graced the stages for all open mic events, from the crowd on the other side of poetry lovers and other attendees , we say thank you, and as this piece was typed on the Day of Poetry, we celebrate you. We wish you nothing but creative juices.

To the likes of Jacque here, those that have never allowed their feet to kiss the stage, let us celebrate ourselves too. Sounds have refused to leave our mouths and our pens are the only weapons that can speak for us. To the shy poets that are in constant diet of papers they have written on, and to those that write and tear…still we celebrate you. I hope that someday you will stand up above the fear of being read, and that you will understand how allowing the reader to peep into the nakedness of your writing is the only way you can be born again and baptised into the literary world.

To those that have brought these events together, the likes of Wamathai, Namatsi Lukoye, Neema Mawiyoo, Sitawa Wafula, Oliver Mathenge…thank you for giving poets a platform to be listened to. Seeing as most Kenyans rarely read books, a platform to showcase works that would have otherwise ended up in the dustbin and into eventual damnation of fire or decomposition is a great gift to give, and so very selfless of you.

My work is done here, but I have a word for the organisers of these events. I have said it before and I will say it again, an ear is to poetry what an eye is to photography. A poet that stands on stage in a crowd that is intoxicated with the noise of catch-ups and how-have-you-beens, downed with gulps of beer and other drinks might not be such a good idea. When a poet stands in front of the crowd, I believe their utmost desire is to be listened to. This becomes a little bit difficult when the venue is uncontrollably noisy. You might have to consider moving these events to quieter places that allow for the appreciation of the art.

But let us not digress…let us celebrate the art of poetry.