November 22, 2018


What is performance poetry without the use of words? What is a word, if there’s no meaning to it? What is meaning if there’s no space to understand? What is understanding if you’re not human?

Ozidu House, Maitama, Abuja
Ozidu House, Maitama, Abuja, was the venue for #performance poetry with Bash

It is because we are humans that the thought of language, and its daily usage cannot be over emphasized. For a few with tidy minds, the shorter the use of words, the clearer the meaning conveyed. That is what the first facilitator of the #PerformancePoetrywithBash, Bello Muhammad Bello, brought to the participants’ awareness.

Bello Muhammad Bello,
holds a Master of Public Administration degree, with concentration in Public Management, from the University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Bello acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Management from Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee, also in the United States.
Besides writing, some of Bello’s other interests include running, reading, and perfume. “Small World, Golden Words” is his first published book.

Shittu Fowora is described by many words, including the man without a face on social media. The most valid description for participants who attended the two days session, would be simply ‘the poet.’ For what is good poetry without its creator!?

Some participants during the session
Some participants during the session with #performance poetry with bash

Shittu Fowora is a story-teller, a writer and editor. He is known as a generous and attentive writing instructor who has taught and mentored many through workshops & art colonies.
His works have recently appeared in or forthcoming from Inlandia, Sibling Rivalry Press, Arc-24, Helen Literary Magazine, Interviewing the Caribbean (IC), Lower Tower, Cha, Monkeystarpress, Oracle Fine Arts Review and other literary magazines. He was longlisted on the Erbacce-Prize long list 2014, finalist at the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and has works on Johns Hopkins University library network.

Before he began the voyage of unveiling a lot about becoming a good page poet and performance poet, Shittu did well to draw up a list. This list summarized everything he’d be discussing for two days. They included:
1) Structure

2) Mind-mapping

3) Colours

4) Poetic Devices

5) Generating Ideas

6) The Spell of the Sensuous

Some participants at the performance poetry class with Bash
Some participants at the performance poetry class with Bash. Left to Right…Iyanu A. David Francis E. and Ekene May

7) Wide Spaces/Silences

8) Spider Approach to Understanding all Forms of Poetry

9) Poetry Meets Photography

10) Poetry in Exile

11) Collaborative (Poetry) Writing

12) Examining and Exploring the Minds of Poets

13) Examining some Poetic Forms
During the sessions with Shittu, participants were thrilled to be exposed to the exceptional works of some poets. Participants also took turns to write and read some of their poems.
Using creative exercises,technical mastery,personalised feedback and writing critique,participants were able to unlock purposeful ways of perfecting their craft.
But what is a session with Shittu Fowora if you cannot know how to respond to a poem?

One of the facilitators during a poetry session
One of the facilitators, KIS, during a poetry session

Right from the word “go,” Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, aka KIS, is always ready to share meaningful and worthwhile lessons with any lover of art. A fantastic critique, publisher and a Nigerian, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson- Founder/CEO of popular educational and publishing firm, Words, Rhymes & Rhythm Publishers Ltd. He is an award-winning author of poetry books (WHAT CAN WORDS DO (2013), I SAID THESE WORDS (2015),  WORDS OF EROS  (2017);  WE WHO SOWED HURT & BEADED PAINS  (2017), a multimedia journalist and youth mentor, known for his work with young Nigerian writers and the promotion of Nigerian writing.
Kukogho has won several accolades for his writing, including the Orange Crush 1st Prize for Poetry in 2012, the Nigerian Writers Award (NWA) for ‘Best Poet in Nigeria 2015,’ the 2017 ANA Prize for Fiction (First-Runner-Up), for Devil’s Pawn.
He was also listed among the Nigerian Writers Awards list of 100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40 in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, he won the 2018 Guaranty Trust Bank Dusty Manuscript Contest.

Lunch time. #performancepoetrywithBash
Lunch time. #performancepoetrywithBash

The role/use of punctuation took precedence in Samson’s presentation. He took his time to discuss how they are important in understanding poetry, as well as the emotions intended for poems.
He also delved into the waters of using rhymes in poems. Samson unlocked about eight types of rhymes including, end rhymes, first syllable rhymes, last syllable rhymes, and break rhymes.
After the session with KIS, it was indeed clear to the participants that poetry is nothing but the intellect being put to proper use.

Punctuated by launch breaks, participants settled with an indescribable appetite for a session with Basiru Sunday Amuneni – this man who dances in rhythms every lunatic should listen to.
Bash Amuneni is one of Nigeria’s foremost performance poet. He has performed poetry at various platforms around the country from the Nigerian Youth Summit, 2016, to the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaigns in Abuja and to the Lagos International Poetry Festival 2016 (LIPFest).
He was a speaker at TEDx Garki in 2015. That same year he was invited as a poet to the Presidential Inauguration. In August 2017, Bash Amuneni was awarded  by Abuja Literary Society for his sustained work in the Development of Literary/Arts Programmes in Nigeria. In December 2017 , Bash Amuneni was a  guest  performance poet at the European Union Human Rights Day.

Some participants smiling for a selfie at performance poetry with Bash
Bash Amuneni (middle) with two Zainabs, one left, one right. Brain Box is far right. Aisha is far left. David Francis is behind#performancepoetrywithbash

He was listed among 50 most influential Poets in Nigeria  in the years 2016 and 2017 by The ECG Poetry List. He was also mentioned among 100 most influential Nigerian writers under the age of 40 for the year 2017. In January 2018, he was a Guest Performance Poet at the commissioning of The African Development Bank Head Office building in Abuja by the Nigeria Vice President. January 2018.
Most recently, he was a guest performance poet at Medic Aid Dinner in honour of the First Lady of Kebbi State and performed at the 73rd Session of the African parliamentary Union. He has done brand poetry for Star times Digital Television. He is the author of a collection of poems “There Is A Lunatic In Every Town,” and a poetry album titled “Freedom.”
With Bash by their side, it was the case that each participant would be given a stage to perform. But that was not before he shared his side of the story about the importance of performance poetry.
To achieve this, he shared different lessons with regards to the role of empathy to the performance poet; the need for a performance intelligence, as well as the place of negotiations among others.

Performance poetry selfie
Some participants smiling for a selfie after the #performancepoetrywithbash

At the end of the Performance Poetry Class with Bash, it could be agreed upon that the majority of the participants understood their roles as creators of words – sublime enough to build, entertain, educate, provoke, respond and imitate life. November 17th and 18th, 2018 would continue to be a memorable day for these lovers of poetry; these two days having conversations on poetry in a beautiful environment like Ozidu House, Maitama, Abuja, was everything incredible!
Images from Uche Emmanuel, Basiru S. Amuneni, Iyanu A. and Victor A. 


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