• Dr Margi Brown Ash

Ben Okra writes for us, writes for you


“POET, be like the tortoise: bear the shell of the world and still manage to sing your transforming dithyrambs woven from our blood, our pain, our loves, our history, our joy. The lonely and inescapable truth simply is that this is the only kingdom you will ever have. This is the home of your song”.

It’s either early or late…I’m up. Reading Ben Okri’s “A Way of Being Free” (1997). I am searching for connectors for the collaged play I am directing “The Belonging Trilogy” a combination of three of my plays written over the last five years. They belong together as much as they belong apart and this opportunity to bring them together is a way of understanding the wholeness of one’s life in art and how this wholeness speaks to other poets, other artists, other beings. The wholeness of the poet in all of us.

So I turn to Ben Okri. And what I read awakens me. He writes

“The poet needs to be up at night when the world sleeps, needs to be up at dawn, before the world wakes, needs to dwell in the odd corners where Tao is said to reside, needs to exist in dark places, where spiders forge their webs in silnece near the gutters where the underside of our dreams fester. Poets need to live where others do not care to look (page 1). “

I then write:

The light is not here yet…strain for the bird sounds that soon will erupt. Not yet. A car goes by. But only one. No indication of what time it is. It could be 2. It could be 4. Will I get up and make a cup of tea?

I’m searching.

I’m searching for the link required to make sense of this play.

And I do. I get up and I make a cup of tea. Two cups of tea. And two pieces of toast. My dog sits at my feet. I return to Ben Okri:

“Poets…remake the world in words, from dreams. Intuitions which could only come from the secret mouths of gods whisper to them through all of life, of nature, of visible and invisible agencies. Storms speak to them .Thunder breathes on them. Human suffering drives them. Flowers move their pens. Words themselves speak to them and bring forth more words. The poet is the widener of consciousness. The poet suffers our agonies as well as combines them with all the forgotten waves of childhood. Out of the mouths of poets speak the yearnings of our lives” (page 3)

And I am moved. I realise that I write, I communicate through poetry. And so whatever I need to solve needs to be through poetry. Poetry will solve it.

Poet be like the tortoise… This is the home of your song

- page 12