I remember dressing up and whistling Don William’s ‘Jamaica’ while getting dressed up for a poetry get-together organized by FOS, Owerri chapter. I was feeling both anxious and intimidated at the same time, owing to the fact that I will be meeting poets I admire from a distance, for the first time. My roommate, a friend who had no interest in poetry, asked me why I wanted to be a poet.
“You know how hard it is to make money as a poet?” he added.
It felt like a betrayal. A dispiriting stab.
“I don’t care about making money,” I told him. “I just want to write awesome poetry.”
Despite my show of idealism and optimism, I was wounded inside. A feeling of inadequacy crept in and I began to question my interest in poetry writing.
As soon as I wrote my first collection of poems titled ‘Diary of a Broken Poet’, I believed I would be an instant success. Of course, that’s not exactly how it happened. Sadly, my first book was a colossal failure. Not one sale was made. But I didn’t give in to failure.
Since then I’ve written fourteen books, bagged three creative writing awards, written hundreds of poems and co-authored several anthologies.
But I’m still not an instant success.
They haven’t named a literary prize after me (yet). And I haven’t seen my name next to Chinua Achebe on the bestseller’s list nor beside T.S Elliot as a world renown poet.
This notwithstanding, I’ve accomplished something much more important. Here goes the list:
I’ve become a poet.
I’ve carved a niche.
I’ve built a brand.
I’ve made a name.
I am consistent.
Every day I get to sit brainstorm for ideas, courses, words and all that is needed to make a fine brew of poetry and train other poets on how to do same. I pen down poems that reach hundreds of people in a dozen different countries. Every day I get to create poems out of a butterfly, a fleeting thought, a drop of rain, a heavy cloud, Sabrina’s kiss, moonlight, and put together lines that change the way people see the world.
Every day I get to write meaning into people’s lives through poetry. I am becoming.
No one is born a poet. You must become a poet.
In fact, you never cease to become, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a poet. And so are you.
Becoming a poet is a lifetime process that ends only at death.
In this second series of my book ‘So you want to be a Poet’, I’d like to give you the ten best pieces of wisdom I’ve learned as a poet. I hope they will inspire you to begin your journey toward becoming a poet (or continue it with renewed focus!).
I’m passionate about helping other poets go from being aspiring poets to becoming daily poets. That’s why I wrote this free book.
What if you could step into your identity as a poet today? I want to challenge you to stop dreaming, stop aspiring, and start developing the habits that will turn you into a poet.
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Jaachi Anyatonwu is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Poemify Publishers Inc. Jaachi is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested.
The Boys Are Not Stones Initiative (BANSI), is a movement founded by John Chizoba Vincents, Maazị Jaachị Anyatọnwụ, Adéwálé Àlàdé Ebubechukwu Nwagbo and Onyemaechi Maxwell Opia-Enwemuche in 2018 to highlight the ignored plight of the boy child.