You asked me my name the other night. I drew you a cat, even though you're not a
cat person. You are extremely nice, and I'd like to get to know you, though I
will rarely be on campus anymore. Get ahold of me if you get this!
(N.B.: awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! draw me a puppy too – a note from the editor)
This is an important work of poetry from the Society of Young Nigerian Writers,
in the turmoil of politics and violence in their homeland they are practicing
the craft of poetry, getting the word out and finding their truth in
constructing thought waves for peace. As I go to write, I hear the song “Don’t
stop, don’t stop the dance” by Bryan Ferry in the blue light of winter
This book is constructed around the theme of the Oja ‘Ba Market (The Kings Market) the main market of Ibadan Land. Markets exist traditionally in all major centres of countries, they are places of trade, a place of food, a place of meeting, exchanging talk and information and a place of celebration of the arts, the soul of the Community. Oja ‘ba Market accommodates “traditional drummers, flutists, poets, performers, masquerades, dancers.” This book of poetry also features colourful photos of the Market and its produce and people.
Voices of Oja ‘Ba Market is published by Society of Young Nigerian Writers, an organization that “hopes to impact the community and the lives of people through Christian philosophy, arts and computer education.” Their Vision statement: “Improving all aspects of the quality of education and creating a conducive environment for the mental, artistic, social, scientific and psychological development of the masses.”
The book of poetry begins with The Raucous and Serenades of the Market by Tenibegi Karounwi. As if a traditional song, the poetry flows “This morning is a gathering from all corners of the four winds/ On battered Lorries, wrecked vans trailed by wheeled iron coffins.” The poetry illuminates the current violence and life of the people. For style the poetry appears to have the influence of the traditional culture as well as the tenets of English Literature, particularly the Beat Poets and the Moderns. The lines are constructed with capitalization at the beginning. Occasionally the poems will have obvious rhymes, an evolution from the Postmoderns, perhaps influenced by modern rap/Hip Hop. This poem continues with a description of a dance celebration:
“In the presence of all and the bustling forest for witness
Aduke and Abeke entered into a dance contest
To know whose feet will command the best cheer
Delightfully, Aduke croons with spiteful hiss
As she daintily twirl her wrapper with a mocking tease
And Abeke rolls voluptuous waist with seductive ease
Swinging with grace and the pride of a calm breeze . . . “
Market Girl. By Obrnide Joseph Ikotun, is a poem of the thoughts of a woman who runs a market stall as she anticipates meeting her lover, “Eyes fierce and dim/ As if translating over a seam.” The excellent use of the English language (when it may be a second language) presenting mystery and intrigue in word juxtapositions in the celebration. Often in this New Age poetry, there is a stream of consciousness and new word synergies that are exciting.
There is a poem titled Boko Haram by Ubah Chetachukwu, an open letter for peace to the terrorist group, “Masses, massacred Masses, shattered Tragedy so sad to see When all that was asked to be Was to live peacefully . . . ”
Of Gangster Gods and Goddesses by Salawu Olajiobe begins “My country gods are goons/ They take the sacrifice and frighten the bearers . . .” And Political Brouhaha by Babalola Adeniyi Abraham speaks of the corrupt politics of Nigeria. The poems that reveal the violence and political condition of Nigeria are the beauty of truth, as if planting the seeds for peace in the written word.
The One in White (Eyo) by Onwuasoanya Chika Tobi is a description of a play at the market.
“Have you seen the play of Adamu?
Mortals of earth, have you seen the play,
Of Amadu Orisha?
The one in the white mask waits,
His rod stiffly in hand,
He waits in the wings of life,
Ready to take center stage,
The tall white one,
O great Eyo gogoro!
The one whose feet are ever impatient,
Whose dancing feet stirs up,
The black dust of morning in men’s heart, . . . “
Women’s themes are also present with The Praying Voice Beside the OSun River by Babatunde Idawu Enbener: “Again came the tiny voice from beside the peaceful river,/’Bless me mother and make me a mother.’” And Twenty Children by Aduwale Bakre:
“A tale of a score of kiddies
That they claim cannot be
Together for two decades,
“True indeed is the postulation
Of our great sagacious Mother Africa
With her third leg that shivers
And shakes as if it would break
The third leg she uses
In guiding us to the path of rectitude . . . “
As if a poem with prophesy.
The Closing Stage by Adebesin, Ibraheem Adekunle is in the exultation of “Apocalypse Poetry” with the repeated line, “I’m afraid the end-time is near” and
“See the abundant infections now afflicting us
As though newly spawned by some angered gods
See the apocalyptic disasters now daily rocking our earth . . . “
The Beauty and Power of Yoruba Culture by Adeleye Kunle is a consciousness raising about the importance of culture.
“Most people forget that a state
Without a recognized culture is
A country with no identity.”
The final poem is titled Oja Oba Market by Dalinton Joshua, is a prayer for peace and protection with the celebration of dance in poetry.
In these times of change with the miracle of the Internet, the West as well as the Second and Third World countries are experiencing a Transition Economy and violence. The discovery of peace begins with happy covenant marriages, the cornerstone for peace in Community through the discovery of Signs from God and the Holy Spirit way. Signs from God discern a happy covenant marriage, tell the truth of all serious matter, protect the innocent and create safety, peace and democracy. (see Newsletters @ Tea at Tympani Lane Records, www.tympanilanerecords.com).
This dance of poetry, like the dance of life despite adversity and violence. A prayer for peace for these poets and the peoples of Nigeria in the midst of violent times. One day we will be free!
Available @ OBOOKO.
Abject Lessons is an exciting long poem Chapbook that explores the violence of the war culture North America in fantastical animal imagery.
Poet Baker is a Phd candidate, teaching at the University of Ottawa. She grew up in small town Ontario, living in Exeter and visiting her
grandparents on their farm.
The beginning is tentative but it quickly draws you into a long poem story with the theme of love lost, mystery and haunting images. Stretching the boundaries of language, Abject Lessons dances with dark gothic imagery in a running stream of consciousness that borrows from the New Age school. The new word synergies are exciting and original, exploring the dark underside of love in the cursehold North America. The poetry explores rural nature imagery, perhaps imagery influenced from life on a farm.
The Chapbook is divided into 3 sections titled “Pilgim”, “Dwelling” and “Abject Lessons”. “Pilgrim” introduces a dialectic where someone may be predicting outcomes,
“forget the lurking idyll
it all comes out gothic
no unicorns but horse bones
swallowed by the quick sand
at the edge of the field.”
“Dwelling” introduces the idea of a broken love life, perhaps in serial relationships,
“become human become equine
breaking their bodies on shifting ground
they can’t own”
and a house fire
“a fieldstone housefire
bursts a scream through the windows
lace curtains daintily
to the clouds”.
Something is wrong, someone is yelling at the sky.
“Abject Lessons” explores the theme of broken love life “I can’t scratch the hot from my skin”.
The beauty in the poetry lies in the fantastical images of animals in a rural setting juxtaposed with the suffering of an unfortunate love life. The dread and violence of
“I read somewhere:
hawks mockingbirds owls
I can’t stop counting
A small circling shadow”
is an incredible use of images, borrowing from the pared in style of the Imagist/Symbolist School, the predecessors to New Age poetry. Gothic artistry in poetry, Abject Lessons by Jennifer Baker.
Available @ above/ground press.