The #Babishai2016 Poetry Shortlist: Who Will Win the Prize?

Richard Oduor Oduku

The back story of poems is rarely known. What we are stuck with are suppositions and probabilities, and the boring work of interpretations. There are poems that are mindfully open and direct the reader to a specific interpretation of their work. They leave lampposts along the path, and a reader can pierce the journey, chalk it on their palms and glimpse at meanings. Other poems are labyrinths. Getting lost is the norm. But like, Jane Hirshfield says, “to step into a poem is to agree to risk. Poetry is a trick of language-legerdemain, in which the writer is both magician and audience. You reach your hand into the hat and surprise yourself with a rabbit or memory, with an odd verb or slant rhyme or the flashing scarf of an image.” This reading attempts to make sense of the #Babishai2016 Poetry Shortlist.

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