KONK International Publishers

When my editor, Mr. Adewale Maja-Pearce, asked me to send in notes on what poetry
means to me, I was lost. I hadn’t thought of poetry consciously or fancied myself as a
poet. I remember entering his office for the first time with mock-up books of poems
looking for an editor.  My journey to getting my work professionally edited was also a way
of looking for professional acceptance of what a private audience had enjoyed and had
encouraged me to put together. These words were poured out without any particular
thought, at least not of the conscious "poetic"  type. I did not  set out write poems, I did
not say: Adetola, you are a poet! Words come into my mind at periods of great emotion
or admiration. I simply had to submit to writing them down by just taking a pencil or a pen
and any piece of paper or notebook or anything I could find at any given moment. I never
thought of my writings as poems, but the words came, disjointed, in pieces, flowing one
after the other and I could not avoid the rush.

The rush was, for me, a way of not forgetting, of reading the words some time later and
wondering how they came about. Sometimes, not often, I’d imagine a big word and I’d still
write it, only to find that the meaning flowed in context. Something was there, a voice, not
maddening, some part of me; a silent muse. Now, thinking of it, it is life, mine, the
relationship I have with the spirit of all things. God, my God, the spirit of Adetola in God. I’
ve always had wild imagination, always sensitive to things, never sleeping easy, but
leaving one world for another, conscious of both in memory.  I never seem to find
ugliness offensive, nor submit to the lure of some apparent beauty, even when I live it. I’d
take the thing I see, usually in the act of knowing my own limitations, for example, others'
pain, my own happiness or loves, everyday circumstances, an event or occasion of loss
or thanksgiving, joy or great sorrow, and my soul would either rise or sink. It never hung
in balance except in the act of following the mundane things of life.

The acts of my soul are like the rising and the ebb tide. The rush to the shores of my
mind and recessions in recall as the words tickle my being that by surrendering to writing,
I find the banality of balance once again. Poetry means “Me”, the soul of my
remembering.  The song I find inside when there is no song to sing or the soul I find, mad
in the desire of the moment, when the drums of life are so loud and they desire to dance
in invisible acrobatics.

I have a wonderful soul. I can describe it on its own terms because, sometimes, the
vagaries of life carry my body to some other place and it is my soul that draws and
moves me to what is important.  I have always been conscious of it from when I was very
young. It is my friend. From the days when I would watch chaos and still see a line of
goodness in it and I would lie to protect a friend or to prevent a greater evil, from
occurring. I would make excuses for adversaries, seeing my weaknesses in them. People
are never as they seem, I’d say. Life makes us who we are.  Sometimes, we want to be
nice, but find this an injury to ourselves because of past hurts.  Sometimes, we want to
have friends but find being too close to a fellow an odyssey in betrayal, so we play
games and make appearances more important than our true self. Sometimes we mourn
those we are happy to lose and pray to heavens when it gives us what we want. My soul
offers me this and more. I have come to accept that I am not one person but many
personalities, each summoned to cope with different aspects of life in some orchestrated
order. I have come to see that the dominant personality is the everyday person with
others resting somewhere inside, awaiting moments to prove themselves worthy of
existence in sudden crescendos.  My soul made me to listen and not to fear. Even when
my mind drowns in tears and the strain upon my heart is heaved with pain, it is as if the
veins surrounding it are busting with blood. My soul gives me rest and in rest I find a
voice, an ordinary voice that reels out words addressing me, caressing me, inviting me to
a world that only eyes that wish to be opened can see. My soul is my eyes when I am
blind, my feet when I am unable to walk, my mind when I can no longer think, and my
body when I can no longer feel. My soul is my true strength, the bearer of all memories,
the giver of all things, the existence within non-existence. Khalil Gibran once said that “it
should not be said that God is in our heart, but we should say that our heart is in God."  
When I read his words, I felt as someone in the presence of a mate, one who knows the
spirit of things as one sees it and I was home. Sometimes, I believe, we are drawn to
writers who are like ourselves. All the books I have read, I have felt the need to read at
any point in time and the subjects are very different but united, or should I say connected
in my mind, fused. Each book, whether art or science, was not an academic engagement
but each left me with company of similar thoughts, of voices just like mine that I believe
my soul is part of that Great Spirit, the Spirit that creates all things.  So, whenever I write
what is called poetry, I am merely remembering things as they occur or pass on by,
remembering life whilst still yet living it, a sense of
deja vu hitting me as I look beyond the
moment. My soul, a light part of the Light, a being part of the Being, a spirit of the Spirit.

Poetry, if I must call what I write according to a label, then means what I am, my soul
essence in God. Some may say life is all forgetting. For me, life is all remembering.
Memories are the tassels we sew on our life’s edge, the dangling bits of colour,
sometimes tattered, sometimes well attached, some dropping off, others staying on
through our lives. Some say life is a patched garment but for me, life is a large piece of
cloth we sew tassels on as we choose; they are different colours for different moments of
our lives. We choose whether they should hang loosely or be well sown and we move on.

Poetry means memories, life’s wonderful memories, my diamond tears, my secret place,
the soul of all remembering!

© Adetola 2006