Kicking off the panel, the moderator, Dami Ajayi asks the panelists, Theresa Lola, Wana Udobang, Inua Ellams, Logan February and Ishion Hutchinson what is responsible for the global dwindling of poetry.
Logan February opines that there is a revival which he believes is good. He however acknowledges the fact that poetry is not like other genres of art. “Poetry,” he says, “is an art form that forces the audience to think.” Poetry for him, demands introspection, so the question is, who is the audience?
Wana Udobang says she does not think poetry is dwindling. She believes poetry is taking other forms, morphing into new things. She mentions that people are doing poetry in films and performing it in theatres.
Ishion Hutchinson says poetry always addresses posterity and it is impossible to project posterity in a present moment. He acknowledges that it has never had commercial value, because what is marketed cannot be sold.
Theresa believes the future of poetry involves having more mediums. She observes that companies and international organizations are now using poetry in advert campaigns. She believes that poetry would eventually become mainstream—not in the sense of losing its quality if artists are careful to protect the craft—but in the sense of gaining wider audience as it travels through new mediums. She shares an example of poets in the UK being invited to teach poetry in schools and how their enthusiasm with students has sparked a renewed interest in poetry.
When asked whether the future of poetry lies in performance poetry or page poetry, Inua Ellams replies that poetry is the future of poetry to a riotous applause.