Guest Post: Commercialization Of Poetry.

Like the say a picture is worth a thousand words … That’s true, and I say,  poetry on the other hand,  expresses those a thousand words into to something more tangible, something with an emotion and a feeling to it.

Poetry [poh-i-tree] – The art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure, by beautiful, imaginative or elevated thoughts ~ Unknown Author

Of late, I have found myself attending many Poetry gigs such as Open Mic/Kwani/Wamathai Exclusive or whatever the event organizer decides to call them. It wasn’t my norm before and as I always say I’ve never been poetic..I tried and I failed…lol, but out there, there is talent I must say. Me, who’s not into poems, can stand and actually listen to a poet go ahead and let out his/her thoughts…they must be magical…they are.

So in the process, I happen to be a fan of one poet known as Jemedari. I shall not reveal his real names, I signed a Non-Disclosure. He’s really goood, I mean if you’ve listened to him do his thing, he’s got some bass voice, with the rhythmical  flow of words…I mean he’s a professional poet I must say.

We all want to make a living out of what we are talented in (or what we can do best). I mean if one can turn talent into business, it’s so much fun I wish I could to do what you love doing while at the same time it earns you a living or even just for sustainability purposes. This mainly would apply to performing artistes such as Poets (who seem to be assumed). And this is where this *Commercialization* comes in. Please read the post below, and you’ll understand their sentiments.

The Commercialization Of Poetry

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Dear Reader,

As is the norm,I tend to get moments of insight in which I go off and shoot in the dark about some topic that affects artists. For as much as I am an artist, I am also a critic of the arts. I had promised to give an insightful piece on the commercialization of poetry so here goes…

As previously mentioned, many an artist has gotten to the open Mic stages that are constantly expanding the realms of performance arts. However, at the end of the day, we all go home to the same arguments that there is no monetary value in the art… Why??

As is the common trend now, we have all gotten into the “giving” artistic spirit. Few artists who seek to create platforms have organized events in which other artists come in to “support” the venture. I have no problem with the complimentary entrances, the bitings and even the mad “intros” and “shoutouts”.. PAY ME!!

Many are the events that we get invited to, skip the entrance charges “VIP style”, give our all on stage and still go home empty-handed. GET THIS RIGHT! It’s not about money. It’s about SUSTAINABLE GROWTH!

If the said event is making money out of entrance fees, minus the expenses, it is my firm opinion that every artiste be compensated for their efforts in making the event a success.
Before I come out like a greedy poet (both of which I am not), lets attack this logically

Every artist gets into the game to make a name through their poetry, get a few followers and get recognition and a reputation for his/her work. Over time, this “name” becomes a BRAND, the followers grow into a FAN BASE/ SEGMENTED MARKET, the poetry becomes a product, the reputation becomes a BRAND IDENTITY and the recognition becomes WORTH. (Not too shabby, huh??)

CURRENTLY, the brands are getting an expanded segmented market of willing consumers who are constantly becoming brand loyal. This loyalty leads to the increase in demand for the product. Several events are created but the product is limited, monotonous and boring. Why?? Because the BRANDS CANNOT AFFORD TO MAKE NEW PRODUCT! ITS BAD FOR BUSINESS!!!

The artists are making all these efforts yet the money is going to the wrong pockets!! There is demand for audio CDs, books, cards and the occasional performance but what most people do not realize in that all of this is a cost to the artist! So if I was making a loss, would I make an effort to keep new material flowing?

As a business oriented artist, HELL NO! Hence the reason why there are artists who perform the same material over and over again! They do not see the need to take it further!! What is wrong?

  1. Too many events that focus lesson the artists and more on the hype
  2. Too few resources for poetry to look like gainful art
  3. Too many overzealous event organizers who still take advantage of the fact that poets are not business savvy
  4. Lack of business savvy poets

So I guess it’s now in your hands. I may not have covered all the ills but I am determined to make this a topic towards the improvement of the state of affairs. In the next installment of this article, I shall be discussing the way forward.

Look forward to “HOW IT SHOULD BE: POETRY RESURRECTED

All feedback is appreciated

By Jemedari.

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PS: Feedback is appreciated and *READ BETWEEN THE LINES*

Cheers!

Signing Off ~~~ *Kawi*

  • I like this piece my dear K…love it love it!

    Dear Jemedari,

    I would like to thank you for a very well piece. You have really done well in articulating some of the concerns that we have consumers of poetry and poets have been having long arguments about. I am glad that we can now have a starting point where we can use some data to try and back up our arguments.

    To give you a history, I am a poet. I appreciate good poetry when I hear or read it and for me my biggest concern is not around getting paid for the performance (long outstanding) it is about how we can nurture that talent. Poetry is for a niche market and therefore to sustainably grow it you gotta grow the talent that will grow the demand. If, for arguments sake, the consumers right now are in their 20 – 27yr age bracket fall out of that category how are we, as poets, going to ensure that we have a fresh following that were have recruited? Because remember, poetry is niche and not for the mass markets. Additionally, how are we gonna keep those in that age bracket coming and buying more of our product and enjoying us as they continue to age? In closing (tiihii) Sustainable Growth is driven by growing the brand ensuring that it is part and parcel of the consumers who will understand why they need it and why they cannot live without it. That way, we can guarantee ourselves a fat pocket, invitations to make appearance for a pay etc.

    My two cents.

    Hope to hear from you ~EW~

    • Glad you do…lemmi get Jemedari to read your letter and respond. Thanks for giving us feedback…i’m super grateful. xoxo!

  • Thanx L! First let me say that I randomly walked in on one of your performances and it was amazing to see such grace and poise coupled with great talent. Salutations are in order. I feel your sentiments about the growth of brands to ensure consumer loyalty and brand recognition. However, I speak for the more seasoned poet such as yourself. Many performances, a lot of exposure, massive crowd appeal yet not as much coming in through the many performances. The artiste as I said is expected to keep churning out material in different formats as per the market. Fans start arking for cards, audio cdz, books and material that they are willing to purchase and grow you. But it is the events that are suppored to supply you with this capital/ boost. Your fan pays at the door knowing fully that their star artiste is goin home with a payday that will ensure your re appearance. So the fans keep paying up at events and they keep seeing you over and over again. Only difference is that the cash they pay does not (or very little) get to you. We have good poets, the demand is evident, the growth hs unstoppable, but the streamlining of the industry is not present. No event manager is just goin to hand u payment, no artist demands payment at every appearance (lest they appear greedy and self indulging), no person stands up 4 poets rights (musicians have MCSK), no corporate entity takes poets seriously because it still looks like a hobby… We gotta be taken a bit seriously. I am hoping to soon have a forum where we as poets can sit down and put all our thoughts together. Would love to have you there too. Your sentiments may shed light on a lot of artists and stakeholderz.

  • This is a very well thought out article! I hope all artists can read this article. The thing is we can’t make anyone take us seriously unless we ourselves begin to consider our art as a brand and proactively develop it, protect it and manage it.

  • Thank you for the comment, Juliet. It is important that as an art: – Artistes are protected and recognized for their art. – Artistes get paid for their work – Artists get nurtured and nurture others. We are steps from getting there. All we need is visionary pioneers and a willing hearts