Dear poet, why have you bastardized duets?

When duet goes wrong. (E.P 1)

Contemporary poets love to explore, we like trying out new things, matching styles with creativity. Contemporary poets love competition–we want to see how far we’ve grown, how big our fan base is, how swift we can pen down things, and many more.

This is not a bad idea in entirety; it is quite an indelible trait in writer’s genes. The only time this habit is not fine to have is when it destabilizes great foundation, changes the status quo in a negative way, and demeaning to the prestige that comes with being a poet.

There has been an influx in duets written by contemporary poets, but the most saddening is the fact that these poets do not write duets but duels. 

These days, poets see duet writing as a form of competition - where only the poet with the best lines will be recognized. I see a lot of duets and I wonder who gave our poets these ideas about what a duet  should be.

Some poets even go as far as trying to be distinct within a duet, their segment of the whole duet reads different with their pen name boldly written on top. Some poets in a bid to ‘blow’ go astray from the theme  and they leave readers to wonder if they are reading a duet or writings of insecure poets who want to outshine others in every possible way.

You are not writing a duet but a duel if;

Your readers can visualize two different voices – that is, even if a blind person sees your work, it is very obvious that the duet was written by two humans. Not necessarily from the pen names attached.

There is a form of unspoken competition in the whole piece. Hence you are not making the right connection.

Your work is not in sync with the other poet, because the writing styles do not match.

A duet is a collaboration hinged on artistic harmony. One of the aims of duets is to bring two poets with different writing perspectives, style, and usage of literary devices together.

The ability of their pieces to synergize, thereby making it difficult to distinguish who is who is key in writing a duet. The use of literary devices, imagery, evoked emotions, and writing style needs to be balanced. 

Poetry is an art, hence everyone expresses theirs differently, a duet is an attempt to infuse similarities into the differences of two poets. A good duet is like having Sam Smith & Naira Marley jump-write lyrics for a song and the listeners have no way to distinguish which verse in the song came from Naira Marley or Sam Smith, due to how harmonious the whole piece is.

Put the scenario above into consideration when writing duets next time.

I know I may be sounding a little harsh, but it’s the truth. I think we need to re-evaluate what we call duets when doing poetry writing, we should rather stick to writing duels or working on an anthology – those two gives the writer liberty to be distinct. You can download my anthology titled TIME here.  Check out a duet I did on rape here. 

Cheers to getting better at writing.


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