Poets are an odd, beautiful breed. Constantly observant and obsessed by details, we speak a language that can transcend time, cultures, religion, ideologies and places.

My poetic life started before I was even born, I believe, but really, I’ve been a part-time poet for about a decade. At first, it was painting and drawing. I would imagine things, people and places, and then create those imaginations as pictures, comics and just anything painting.

Next in line was music. I’d compose songs and sing along. Write songs and record them over my dad’s cassettes. As a child, I’d notice things the other children didn’t; I saw the world as a place filled with secrets hidden in trees and the birds of the air, in-between colours of the sky, stagnant water bodies, frogs, people’s eyes and my skin. I see beyond the texture of fabrics, furniture and everything around me. Even whispers could mean something else to my arty ears. I could make a world out of the smallest moment.

I still do. Being a poet feels like having two personalities (if not more) — one in this world, and one in some other. Does this sound like you?

So you want to be a poet
So You Want To Be A Poet?

When I was in secondary school, before I became really serious about writing poetry, I do borrow books from classmates, though prose works, I draft poems from interesting story-lines, conversations and scenes. I was exposed to tons of authors, themes, writing styles and cultures.

Shakespeare’s sonnets struck something in me; it was Elizabethan and intoxicating. You know, old English and all those ‘thee’, ‘thou’ stuff. I developed an intimate relationship with his work, and by doing so I wrote many Shakespeare-styled sonnets in my teenage days.

But I didn’t stop at the English guy. I read everything — the poets put before me in literature classes and the beautiful books lining the shelves in my school library. I would sneak out of science classes to read poems and stories in the library. The obsession was real.

Though, then, I didn’t like most of poem I read, they were abstract, too deep to assimilate, way too beyond my boy mind, but the point was that I took the time to understand its approach and technique, and that allowed me to think on how my own voice might sound.

Oh, and lot of the time, poets getting their wings emulate other poets’ work that they really like, and while that sounds like plagiarism, it’s not. I’ve mirrored the works of renowned poets. I read them and then try writing something similar, using my own language, style and approach.

It’s totally okay, and normal in the early beginning. Eventually, with enough writing and reading and listening to yourself, you will find authenticity and your own voice. I am always working on my own. But seriously: read. It’s not enough to write. READ!

Below are download links to books I authored that could guide you through the ‘be a poet’ journey.

So You Want To Be A Poet (Series I), by Jaachi Anyatonwu

So You Want To Be A Poet (Series II), by Jaachi Anyatonwu

30, a collection of poems by Jaachi Anyatonwu
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ
Jaachị Anyatọnwụ 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. Jaachị is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested.

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