By: Lackson Kanyoza
As the world today is commemorating world poetry day and the power of language, the day here in Malawi has passed in silence without any meaningful activities.
Every year, on 21st March, people across the globe commemorate the art of weaving words together for appreciation but the day has passed silently as Poetry Association of Malawi (PAM) had no planned activities for the day due to lack of funding.
In an interview with The Malawi star, PAM president Felix Njonjonjo Katsoka expressed sadness since the day will pass without any activities.
“As PAM, we are not going to celebrate this day here in Malawi. Currently, we don’t have money and the resources to hold the activities so the day will pass silently
Previously, we have been commemorating the day that’s why it’s sad that we do not have any organised activities but in solidarity, we are celebrating with the rest of the world,” Katsoka said.
However, Katsoka was adamant to reveal that if they had plans to commemorate the day later in the year.
“We tried to source out funds but to no avail. However, we cannot say that we are going to have it in the near future because we still do not have the required funds as of now. We rely on the support from the Norwegian embassy but this year we did not get any support from,” he said.
But in a separate interview, one of the renowned poet Hudson Chamasowa blamed the organisers saying they are focusing on doing business instead of promoting the art.
“What I can say is that poetry today is being run with people who are doing business. If they were there to promote the art definitely a day like this would not just pass in silence.
People have turned poetry into business. They organise functions just to make money and they don’t have the mentality of promoting it,” explained Chamasowa. He also slammed Poetry Association of Malawi for lack of seriousness.
“As a member of PAM, I also put the blame on our leaders because since the beginning of this year, we did not have a single meeting to discuss as an Association. This day is very important to us to discuss some of the challenges that we face as artists. We are going in the right direction because nowadays poetry has changed. It’s difficult to differentiate between poetry and jokes.
“A poem has its own rules but today all the rules have been broken. So the day like this we needed to talk about issues like these. I wish we have a training to teach artists how a good poem should sound like. Poems bring change in peoples’ lives. If you listen to poems in the past and today, they are totally different. Poems of nowadays are full of drama,” noted Chamasowa.
World Poetry Day is a celebration of poetry, literature and free speech, observed by UNESCO every year.
The day is aimed at encouraging creativity, inspiring the teaching of poetry and restoring a dialogue between poetry and other arts, such as theatre, dance and music.
PEN International also uses the day to highlight the imprisonment, murder and abuse of poets, writers and journalists around the world.
“By paying tribute to the men and women whose only instrument is free speech, who imagine and act, UNESCO recognises in poetry its value as a symbol of the human spirit’s creativity,” says Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO.