'Poetic Wednesdays': How Millennials Are Designing The Poetry Landscape of Northern Nigeria In Their Own Colours.


Every Wednesday, an uncommon literary fervor sweeps through the timelines of Northern Nigerian Facebook users. It is the 'Poetic Wednesdays’, an online poetry movement founded and driven by millennials of Northern Nigerian origin passionate about writing and reading poetry in the English language. One 24-year-old poet from Zaria, a graduate of URP currently serving on the NYSC started it all. Read the Art-Muse Fair interview with Salim Yunusa, the founder of ‘Poetic Wednesdays’.         

TAMF: This poetic movement, how did it all start?

Salim Yunusa: It was more of an organic movement. I wrote a poem, used the hashtag #PoeticWednesday, and encouraged others to do so. Never knew it would be so well received by people. The movement started last year May. I was still in school then (ABU, Zaria). It's really surprising how far we've come along, all of us, with no external support. Consistency and dedication of our members got us to where we are today
Salim Yunusa, Founder of Poetic Wednesdays

TAMF: Aren't you surprised how fellow poets on Facebook latched on eagerly to your hashtag? What was it that made the 'Poetic Wednesdays' popular?

Salim Yunusa: I'm still dumbfounded. It was the most surprising thing in the world, to see people from all walks of life participating and joining us.

'Poetic Wednesdays' is popular due to the fact that it is generally encompassing. It welcomes and encourages everyone to write and submit poems. Another thing is that it is the first of its kind; it is an online literary movement, founded by youths and ran by youths. Its northern Nigerian origin is also of big help to its popularity.

TAMF: How many members or participants do you have as of today?

Salim Yunusa: Officially, we have 1900 people liking our page. Mind you, this is a page we started recently. We have participants that don't follow the page but still use the hashtag and post on their walls. The figures could be much higher, and then it could be lower.

TAMF: Tell me the nature of it all. How is the 'Poetic Wednesdays' organized around its participants?

Salim Yunusa: Poems are only submitted on Wednesdays, hence the name. A theme is given during the weekends, and members share the theme with their friends, encouraging them to write too.


In 'Poetic Wednesdays', we mostly deal with social issues bedeviling the society at that time, making them our themes. We also experiment with different types of poetry like  Picture Poetry, Food Poetry and the rest.

Recently, we introduced a system that would help us encourage people to write better. The ten best poems of the week are the ones that are posted by the page. The rest are visitors’ posts. This has produced wonderful results.

TAMF: So far, it has been a virtual, online movement. Do you have any plan to begin physical programmes and activities?

Salim Yunusa: Yes. Indeed, we have so much planned. During our first anniversary, some members met and discussed a lot about propelling the movement forward. Two months ago, the executives met again, with concrete plans that involve both online and offline.
                                                                  
We intend to go around schools in our host areas, notably Kaduna and Kano, for a start, and inspire pupils. Our first anthology, which was compiled during the anniversary, is going to be printed and distributed to selected secondary schools free.
From left: Salim Yunusa, Abdulbasit Abubakar Adamu, Aliyu Jalal & Hussaina Sufyan Ahmed at a panel discussion on Poetic Wednesdays in ABU Zaria recently.

Also, when the Late Maitama Sule passed away, tributes were collected, and are in works to be turned into an anthology to be launched and distributed far and wide in the country.

What is stopping us so far from hitting the ground running is our lack of financial support. Our primary goal is to promote poetry and use it for the greater good.

Poetic Wednesday is not just about submissions. We are constantly coming up with new activities that will spice up the movement and encourage others to join.

Our ‘Personality Of The Week’ is one of such programmes. We interview a specific member each week to give us an insight into his or her mind. It has been a resounding success so far.

We have also introduced a form of tutoring for people wanting to learn poetry. People all the time ask us to teach them poetry – Maryam Gatawa, Aliyu Jalal and many other members can attest to this. So, every Saturday, we try and engage with our audience with basics of poetry. This would help in making up and coming poets better.
Selfie mode: Salim Yunusa, Marzuq Abubakar Ungogo, Maryam Gatawa, Abdurrahman Baba Ahmed, Naseeba Babale and other members at a meeting of 'Poetic Wednesdays' recently in Kano. 

With Poetic Wednesday, we hope that we get to change the narratives. We hope that we will get to educate many people who are idling away on social media, hurling insults at each other, into becoming something better for themselves and their societies. We are speaking about things that people normally shy away from. We are giving the society a voice through poetry.




Comments