Yung Nnoiz performing at Wamathai July 2011

So I hover the sky feeling, relieved from the crust kneeling, dealing with awkward stares from once upon a time, friends, after the recent bombing trends, because I’m suddenly a terrorist as my hair is soft, my complexion suspicious, and my religion Muslim. Fear results to panic which results to ignorance, which results to irrationality – El Poet

For quite some time now, poetry has slowly been gaining popularity. Gone are the days when you only associated a poem with exams in high school. It’s no longer about learning what alliteration is or what rhyme scheme was used. It’s now taking shape to being a great form of entertainment and not just a hobby to pass time or seduce girls.

There was a time when poems were all about love and heartbreak. It was laced with a bit of humor but generally the idea was the same. I fell in love or I got my heart broken. Nothing new to write home about. But as the interest in poetry grew, so did the poets, they found a niche for themselves and cultivated it. They started talking about things going on in society; politics, rape, women empowerment. Monthly events came up and the crowds flocked in to be entertained. Poets became serious in their pieces and made a business out of it.

So as poets go about talking about social issues and planning events I ask myself, is spoken word finally ready to breakthrough into the mainstream entertainment industry? Are we as a country ready to accept it that you can do poetry as a business and not just to pass time?

Entertainment is all about being relevant and telling a story to the public. No one does this better than poets. The use of words to paint a picture that makes you think twice when you vote, use of humor to show you how to get through your heartbreak. It has always been a trend for kids fresh out of high school to want to be rappers simply because everyone is doing it. Now they want to be poets. Seems like poetry is gaining ground even if no one is acknowledging it.

When you speak of entertainment, it’s no longer all about music. In most magazine shows on TV, poetry is getting more airtime. More articles on the poets are appearing in the newspaper. The number of poetry events is slowly rising, more demand for them is being made. Poetry workshops are being held to help poets be better at what they do. It’s not just about getting on stage and speaking.

I personally feel like the time has come for poetry to become mainstream entertainment. With events like Sitawa Ignited hitting Nakuru and Mombasa, poets need to be braced for more recognition. With more need for social conscious pieces been made, poets are finally poised to make the poetry industry a lucrative entertainment business.

Has the time come for poetry to be considered mainstream entertainment and not just a hobby?