“When the house is full of lunatics,
You call the poet-chiatrists!”
It is quite rare, in modern times, to find serious poets engage in satire for a specific purpose. Almost gone were days when poetry is used as machinery for satirical justice. After all, who still believes that art is for art sake?! Certainly, the trio of Ayoola, Ayinla, and Abimbola do not believe that art is the crafty concoction of words to entertain the sensibilities of the readers alone! The poet is not only the conscience of the society; s/he is the vision of its future. Any society without a poet is not just dead, such a society is a breeding ground for death and deathliness! Do we need to say that there is so much urgency for a national poet to sound the alarm to this society infested with intellectual debris, political leprosy, spiritual delirium, religious debauchery, moral destitution, and socioeconomic penury?! More importantly, there is an urgent need for writers whose voices will ring so loud that even the jailers cannot cage the force of their artistic weaponry! These days, what is common is a bandit of writers who “complain” and “mourn” about socioeconomic malaise, without any serious impact on the society.
Perhaps, we need to shed more light on satire and its relevance to our discourse. Satire is not a comic relief intended to amuse the audience. Stand-up comics make millions from doing that, while the audience are sent into a fit of delirious ululation! Satire does not just mock its subject matter utilizing exaggerated expression and overt metaphors; it goes beyond that. While one can argue that satire, used in dramaturgy does have the effects of exaggeration and overt metaphorization, poetic satires are designed masterfully to achieve a conceit: the conscious conscientization of the reader and deliberate induction of desired behavior. A poetic satire endears and condemns at the same time. The reader is shocked by its purgatory effect and desires its cathartic import concurrently. Through satire, the poet achieves a dual function: that of a critic and a guide. Writing a poetic satire is a serious artistic engagement, often requiring a certain level of mastery needed to do justice to such an endeavor.
Ayoola, Ayinla and Abimbola are fully aware of the seriousness of creating poetic satires. The call to address sensitive issues that affect their immediate society is beyond running a laundry list of the bad, ugly, and insane. Anybody can post on social media about political corruption and religious shamefulness. As a matter of fact, in recent times, social media have been the battle ground for many to express their views, even when done blindly, on such issues. Any poet worth some salt would have derided the social challenges being faced. I recall that some poets even claimed that the singular purpose of the poet is to write about social issues affecting the populace. Such a position is not wrong. However, to rise above the banter of sociopolitical brouhaha, it is important that the poet understands the sacredness of his art. It is with this understanding, of the hallowed mandate of poetic satirization, that the poets have invested their art, insights, and commitment to sensate and sensitize their society in this project.
House of Lunatics is a conscious effort to satirize burning social, religious, political and moral issues. The poets are strategic, and direct their poetics toward serious issues. The reader is offered a rare vista into the political ruling class and its sickliness. Divisive issues like sexuality and gender are not left out. The religious sects with their hypocrisy and the intelligentsia that often appear to be above the mundane receive a healthy dose of satirical therapy. Of significant note is mention of three poems that serve as a conversation among the poets, and between them and the society: Ayoola’s “for the world gone nude”, Ayinla’s “physician, heal thyself”, and Abimbola’s “for the world come nude.” These poems mirror the vision of the poets in leading their society from darkness to light.
The readers and critics will agree that the house is ridden with lunatic rodents, and it is expedient that poet-chiatrists* (Ayoola’s coinage) should be called to the rescue. While these poets will not refer to themselves as satirists, their noble efforts to go beyond creating awareness to triggering a national discourse has placed them on the path of becoming the conscience and vision of their society. Engage with House of Lunatics, and let the “change” begin!
Download here: Housse of Lunatics- Final