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INTALK CONVERSATION: Precious Chidera Depicts Poetry As An Art Subjected To Boundless and Bizarre Experimentation

Precious Chidera Harrison's poem, I Attempt A Portrait Of The Simple Art Of Drowning, was shortlisted for the Pawners Paper's Spoken Word and Poetry.

Precious Chidera Depicts Poetry As An Art Subjected To Boundless and Bizarre Experimentation


Precious Chidera Harrison's poem, I Attempt A Portrait Of The Simple Art Of Drowning, was shortlisted for the Pawners Paper's Spoken Word and Poetry Contest.

 
Precious Chidera


Precious Chidera Harrison is a Nigerian poet of Igbo descent, born and raised in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He was an honorable mention in the inaugural Rhonda Gail Williford Prize, 2023. His debut manuscript was longlisted for the Arting Arena Poetry Chapbook Manuscript Prize in 2023. 

His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Arts Lounge, Hot Pot Magazine, NWF Journal, Brittle Paper, FERAL Journal, and World Voices Magazine.
 
In this short interview, Precious gives a dose of his perception, depicting poetry as subjected to boundless and bizarre experimentation and not merely as a vehicle for conveying our piffling efforts at flaunting intellectualism.
 
How does it feel after making the shortlist? Did you anticipate it?
 
I was excited. Extremely excited. I had high hopes after making the submission. In fact, the feelings were mixed. And about anticipating it, you know, it is a competition, and so it is a two-way street: it's either you win or you lose. Yet I was very optimistic about the poem, particularly because it aligned with the theme of the contest.
 

What's the story behind your entry, and what inspired you to come up with the piece?
 
The inspiration behind the draft of the poem came from something ordinary, something so petty, so insignificant. I was scanning through the pages of a primary school textbook, and then I saw a page with images exemplifying and differentiating between what objects float and which sink in water. Those simple, everyday images—of a feather, a leaf, a stone, and a piece of wood—were the hint I needed to begin mental work. Just like every work of art, the process of producing a poem begins with conceptualization. Which I describe metaphorically as the period of gestation.
 

What do you think makes poetry? The diction, grammar, or artistic use of literary devices?
 
First, I like to remind people that poetry is an art form. Because people often forget this. And they take poetry as something esoteric, something for vainglorious intellectuals. Poetry, like every other art form, is subjective and utilitarian. I believe poetry is not a vehicle for conveying our piffling efforts at flaunting intellectualism.

I define poetry as a form of literature that subjects language to boundless and bizarre experimentation. It is an art form that gives us the liberty to employ language innovatively. To bend and stretch language to carry emotions and meanings through the dexterous use of imagery and rhythm. And this cannot be achieved without a mastery of language and a good grasp of figurative devices.
 

What's your view on contemporary poetry? A toxic deviation from the standard or a necessary rejuvenation to reignite the fire of relatedness?
 
Contemporary poetry possesses qualities that much of the poetry written before the colonial era did not possess. And what are these qualities? Freedom. Innovation. Wild experimentation. And then there was that fieriness. The poetry of the present is fierce, spirited, and unrestrained.
 
Although freedom might have its consequences, in literature and art, too many strict rules suffocate creativity. And I find this freedom not just necessary for a given reason but something every artist is entitled to. Yes, it should not stop at being a move towards reigniting the fire of poetry but should be established explicitly as a tradition.
 
What sets poetry apart from other forms of literature?
 
Poetry is the branch of literature that fills the gap between prose and drama. I mean, it does what fiction cannot do and moves to perfect what an essay fails to accomplish. 

Poetry is boundless. It mythologizes humanity. It can be used to portray a fictitious narrative or to tell true stories. But poetry doesn't stop there; rather, it demands of our ingenuity what else we can do with language.
 

In what ways do you think poetry is better conveyed?
 
I have listened to spoken-word artists. I have felt the beauty in the art, too. It is great. The meaning is pulsing beneath the music.
 
But I think poetry is better conveyed in written form. I mean, on a page, the music is not at all lost, and, given the wayward forms poetry takes in this present time, more meaning could be communicated through the visual representation of the poem.
 
There are no strict rules for writing poetry. Whatever feels better for you is good for you. Whatever works fine for you is okay, too.

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Pawners Paper: INTALK CONVERSATION: Precious Chidera Depicts Poetry As An Art Subjected To Boundless and Bizarre Experimentation
INTALK CONVERSATION: Precious Chidera Depicts Poetry As An Art Subjected To Boundless and Bizarre Experimentation
Precious Chidera Harrison's poem, I Attempt A Portrait Of The Simple Art Of Drowning, was shortlisted for the Pawners Paper's Spoken Word and Poetry.
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