Freetown Power Duo hold first-ever Open Mic to mark World Poetry Day #worldpoetryday

Freetown’s first-ever poetry open mic drew poets, novelists, dramatists, singers, and faithful fans on Tuesday, March 21, World Poetry Day. 

Joan Kennessie, a small business owner and women’s rights activist, and Mustapha Kermul Fofanah, a college student majoring in Peace studies, hosted the event with a little help from their friends in the Sierra Leonean Writers Series community, and, O'Casey's, an old Irish bar on Lumley Beach Rd. 

Below are excerpts from their post-event discussion on WhatsApp, with a comment from Mohamed Sheriff of PEN Sierra Leone. 

Joan Kenessie: We planned all this in two weeks and got over 100 people. From the response they appreciated (the poetry) mixed with music and drama. Imagine if we had time to practice and organize what that would have been like!

Lucie, the manager at O’Casey’s, invited her friends and family to the show and this morning she called to tell me she had calls from friends telling her they enjoyed the session and we should do one just for women. So I conclude every poet did well.

Mustapha Kermul Fofanah: I think the event was encouraging.

I have people calling/messaging me to say they wish we held such events often. One said, "he felt the voices of our poems reaching out to him and causing him to smile.”

Not all poets could find a way to dramatize their work. (Especially) first time performers, but that doesn't take away from the overall success of the program. I can't tell what we would do next time. But certainly it'll be superb.

In comparing our events to other festivals in Nigeria and the rest, I think we did well but there’s tremendous room for improvement. However, ours was not a festival. It was just an open mic session defining an open mic poetry session. Our events fit the description because of its mixture of the Arts and the impression it left in the minds of the audience...

Mohamed Sheriff: My humble thoughts:

We should distinguish between poetry that is suitable for performance and public readings and those that are not.  Poets should think consciously about what sort of poetry they wish to write with regards to this and what sort of poetry to bring to public readings.

Poetry for literary evenings should be lyrical, simple, easy to digest, beautiful to the ears and gentle to the mind, but still   sharp and witty. It should contain more of poetic elements like rhyme, rythym, repetition, alliteration, assonance and the like. Elements of drama and narration also work well for public poetry reading. Enter Farouk and Kainwo and exit Gbom!


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