Posted in CALLS FOR SUBMISSION

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS Wreaths for a Wayfarer: A Poetry Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi (1972-2019)

adesanmi

On Sunday, March 10, 2019, Pius Adebola Adesanmi, writer, scholar, educator, and public intellectual, was killed along with 156 others from 35 countries in the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed close to Addis Ababa airport shortly after take-off. Prior to his death, Payo (as he was fondly called by many) was the Director of the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. His tragic demise at the age of 47 has left people in the communities where he conducted his professional work and social activism reeling with pains. The tragic nature of his death invites us to reflect on his life and times, as well as to philosophize on the immortal lines of the English poet, John Donne, in his “Meditation XVII”: “All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated… As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all… No man is an island, entire of itself… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Continue reading “CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS Wreaths for a Wayfarer: A Poetry Anthology in Honour of Pius Adesanmi (1972-2019)”

Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, LITERARY MISSIONARY

RESCUING OUR BODIES – LUCIA SELLARS

A brief account of the poetry workshop:
The Poet as Witness,
guided by poet Kwame Dawes.

 

A rainy Saturday winter morn-ning in Oxford. I started walking at 7.45am from Iffley up to the north area of Woodstock in order to reach the Radcliffe Humanities building of Oxford University. I was excited. First, because I was going to go into the architectural entrails of the building that held the philosophy department of the university. This was exciting, because four years before I had intended to volunteer (research for free) in the department in order to soak up in the knowledge I was so hungry to learn and discuss with others. The intention was a failure. Second, because an unknown poet for me, had offered a ‘free’ workshop with the enticing title of The Poet as Witness.

Continue reading “RESCUING OUR BODIES – LUCIA SELLARS”

Posted in ESSAYS AND LITERARY JOURNEYS, LITERARY MISSIONARY, POETRY

KWAME DAWES’S WITNESS TO POETRY

It isn’t always one wakes up in Oxford or to a day when you would attend Kwame Dawes’s poetry workshop. But that was the case on this fine Saturday, 1st December, 2018. The clouds were gloomy but that was the least of my concerns. I had spent the night in the town after coming in from Brighton the previous day. Kwame had had a reading, followed by a showcase of the African Poetry Book Fund books. It was fun but that is story for another day.

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Posted in BOOK THOUGHTS, BOOKS, SEVHAGE

Reading and a Free Workshop at Abuja Literary Society 31st August 2018

Hello Family…

I don’t come here too often but don’t worry, I am still around. So, I will be reading from three of my multiple award winning collections of short stories and poetry at the Abuja Literary Society Book Jam on 31st August 2018. Venue is Sandralia Hotel, Jabi, Abuja.

Continue reading “Reading and a Free Workshop at Abuja Literary Society 31st August 2018”

Posted in NAIJA POETRY, POETRY

She Came to Town by Su’eddie Vershima Agema

He heard of her arrival
the billboards
shouted her to his face
in every place and direction
not enough, she seized signposts
covering milestones
travellers left wary of location
in the forceful paste of her plastic smile
loving…
calling…

She hugged trees
and adorned walls
her jingle on the radio the new herald of dawn
TVs took over
proclaiming her, the promise of sweet dreams at dusk

He died for her
selling all
till she came to town, sirens blaring—
Queen Mistress.
He thought himself her all
and ran to claim her
but found a long line waiting…
She smiled sweetly, melting them,
spoke lovely little nothings,
waved and left.

She came to town
and left,
still everywhere,
now everyone’s
but nowhere in any heart.

article-2651403-1E8C4B0B00000578-560_964x494 (1)
Josh Bakkum Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2651403/Post-apocalyptic-images.html

(From Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile, Makurdi: SEVHAGE, 2014)

Posted in NAIJA POETRY, POETRY, POETRY FROM THE WORLD, REVIEWS

Unalloyed and Revitalizing: Thoughts on Amina Aboje’s ‘Promises on Sand’

Title:   Promises on Sand
Author:   Amina Aboje
Publisher:   Kraft Books
Year of Publication:   2017
Number of Pages:   87
Category:   Poetry
Reviewer:   Paul SawaPromises in Sand - Amina Aboje

Although I write the occasional poem, I do not see myself as a poet. Avid reader that I am, however, I consider myself competent enough to review any form of literature. After all, I am the end user. The myth that only a poet can review poetry has long since been debunked. When all the lights in your house go out, you do not need to be an electrical engineer to realise that something is wrong.
I’ve always appreciated poetry, but have a tendency to be overly censorious of lyrical fluency and the depth thereof in much of what is expected to pass for verse today. The book which I am about to review, not only dependably delivers on both of these criteria, but goes further to embolden the believer, tickle the lover, and reignite any dying embers in the heart of the disillusioned patriot into a blaze.
The anthology, Promises on Sand, is Amina Aboje’s first published work. It is subdivided into four parts.
The first section, “The Glow,” is my favourite. It affords the reader a glimpse into the primary essence of the mime behind the rhyme. The reckless abandon of an unfettered childhood expressed in “Voice of the Wind,” which gives way to the first gentle tugs of young love on the heart strings in “Fusion” and “Never Enough,” is tempered by the idealistic purity of “Stay with me.” As a theist with a deep love and appreciation for nature, I am struck by Amina’s liberal use of natural imagery with occasional glimpses of the Divine revealed in and through the natural world.
The second section, “Of Loss and Hope,” takes on a more sombre note, yet in its entire sobriety, hope is never lost. Amina juxtaposes the reality of death and consequent effusions of grief with the hope of rebirth and reunion. In the six lines of “Except I die,” I see physical rebirth subsequent to death, like the seed in nature; I see spiritual death and rebirth as the hope and joy of the theist; and I see the daily process of dying to self and thereby awakening to another life. Then, of course, Amina has not neglected to highlight the miracle of birth, disappointments, betrayals and the perplexing paradoxes in this pilgrimage of life, for which she asks for direction in “Guiding Rod” – pragmatism garnished with idealism. Did I mention that this section is my favourite?
Section three, “Time Transience and Nature,” takes the cake! The brevity in style (each poem consists of only three lines) goes to reinforce the transience of time. Like a butterfly from flower to flower, Amina flits from one thought to another … universality, diversity, beauty, nature … as if to remind the reader, “Life is brief. Make the most of it.” It is amazing what three lines of poesy can do. This is, without question, my favourite section.
The fourth section, “Pangs of Nationhood,” strikes to the very soul of Nigeria. Despair translates to despondency which then begins to nudge at a realization that births defiance, as in the closing stanza of “Promises in Sand,” where the citizenry rhetorically inquire of the political class, “…how can you think there’ll ever be you without me?” “The Accomplice” sheds light on the dynamics of the corrupt class while “Musings” gives voice to the common man who laments, “How did I become so common?” The senselessness of internal conflict, the gaping chasm between the haves and the have nots, and the shamelessness of treasury looters as expressed in “Mindless Battles” and “Guiltless Shame” is still unable to quench the undercurrent of hope in “Still Green” and “Centennial Bliss.” Patriot that I am, this section is my favorite.
If I were asked to do the impossible by describing this book in two words, I would say … Unalloyed and Revitalizing. Amina Aboje has, in this book – Promises on Sand, somehow connected the profane with the profound and the sacred with the sagacious. It is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it.

(Paul Sawa writes from Abuja, Nigeria. Inquiries on the book as well as requests for interviews and reviews can be got from the author by email aminaaboje@yahoo.com. Amina Aboje is the winner of the Mandela Day Poetry Prize 2016  and lives in Abuja)

Posted in NAIJA POETRY, POETRY

Beware Soul Brother (A Poem) by Chinua Achebe

men of song we measure out
our joys and agonies
too, our long, long passion week
in paces of the dance. We have
come to know from surfeit of suffering
that even the Cross need not be
a dead end nor total loss
if we should go to it striding
the dirge of the soulful abia drums. . .
But beware soul brother
of the lures of ascension day
the day of soporific levitation
on high winds of skysong; beware
for others there will be that day
lying in wait leaden-footed, tone-deaf
passionate only for the deep entrails
of our soil; beware of the day
we head truly skyward leaving
that spoil to the long ravenous tootBeware Soul Brother
and talon of their hunger.
Our ancestors, soul brother, were wiser
than is often made out. Remember
they gave Ala, great goddess
of their earth, sovereignty too over
their arts for they understood
too well those hard-headed
men of departed dance where a man’s
foot must return whatever beauties
it may weave in air, where
it must return for safety
and renewal of strength. Take care
then, mother’s son, lest you become
a dancer disinherited in mid-dance
hanging a lame foot in air like the hen
in a strange unfamiliar compound. Pray
protect this patrimony to which
you must return when the song
is finished and the dancers disperse;
remember also your children
for they in their time will want
a place for their feet when
they come of age and the dance
of the future is born
for them.

 

 

 

From Beware Soul Brother by Chinua Achebe (1930-2013). The collection was written during the Nigerian Civil War and won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1972.