A poem starts with a decision…to let one’s heart flow to paper…a bold step to share of the gift of heaven.
You throw fear of rejection and impurities aside then hug courage as you step forward to tell waiting ears of something you are only learning. ..
(after seeing a photograph on Flower Rae Shearer‘s wall, overcome by sadness, for the bench)
a lonely bench sits in a park
waiting for stray bottoms
walking through the woods
of life, to sit and make it warm,
only leaves of fall, sad twigs
and sighs of famished trees
keep it company, touching its
wooden ribs and scarred face
with elegies of coming dusk
amu nnadi is author of four collections of poetry, the fire within, winner of the 2002 ANA Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry, pilgrim’s passage, shortlisted for the 2005 Nigeria Prize for Literature, and through the window of a sandcastle, winner of the 2013 ANA Poetry Prize, runner-up to the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature and winner of the 2014 Glenna Luschei African Poetry Book Prize, and the recently completed a field of echoes, a book of almost 300 new poems.
In addition to all this, he is a close friend, mentor, lovely gentleman and teacher.
Today, in Idoto, a small literary festival is being held in honour of Christopher Okigbo. It is nice to know that poets and artistes find the grace of remembrance. One of the poets there gracing the event isChijioke Amu-nnadi who has kept pouring one new verse after the other on his road to that river, Idoto, self-confessed mother that inspired our Okigbo. I drank of this river, drank of Okigbo, took some amu nnadi too, and a few lines not worthy of any of them came up. Here’s my sharing.
echoes of idoto (a poem)
(inspired on amu nnadi’s wall; a poem in chants for christopher okigbo)
the field grows as sounds bellow
no longer will collected thoughts
stop at few pages
for a lengthening grows
from idoto’s river
as spirits bestride the trove
let the wind whisper words
let the sands salute spirits
let the river renew rites
at heaven’s gate
new verses and old merge
as the rivers flow
testimony to the waters
of that one who now has blessed us all
ending even imagined drought…
there’s a shrill…
the field grows as sounds bellow
the elephants march
silencing every tertrach
there’s an echo…
So, there are these cool friends of mine, Yemie, Dr. Swag, Zika, etc etc who think me the critic (wrongly) and one day, one of them took me up on a challenge to a small poelogue… It is something like a duel, methinks… But so far, we are testing ourselves with respect but I talk too much… Here we go.
The Critic by Zika Olofin
You judge the merit of our art
You never fail to play your part
For that’s the nature of your art
Not so much of an eyelid bat
Dissect as with a fine-tooth comb
Analyse in minute detail
Scrutinise motives real or not
Dismember each thought that’s expressed
You are of essence that is sure
If you’re not there we’re still uncooked
Our work leaves your refining pot
Then by the world to be embraced
And my reply…
The Commenter by SVA
Names they have called for so long
They have seen me in lights all wrong
I am me, small talker commenting
Dropping thoughts, ranting
At other times tormenting
Getting thee, bloggers, panting
But…forgive when I am cryptic
Or sound like a critic
I am simply just me, small tormenter
Your one and only friendly commenter.
There are spaces
filled with memories forgotten
Spaces between dreams and reality
Where I search to find
that which ‘Now’ denies
I fall into these spaces
now and again
still in today’s stagnant puddles
remnant of the tides of thought and time
Never enough, I crave
you out of the grave
The silence finds me
I struggle out of the robe of grief
to find relief
but discover an inner garment clinging to my soul
a garment I cannot remember
A garment embroidered of loneliness
the fading texture of your presence.
I try to pull it off,
I fear this one would never come off…
Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes:
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block-cold eyes
search behind my shadow.
There was a time indeed
they used to shake hands with their hearts:
but that’s gone, son.
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.
‘Feel at home!’ ‘Come again’:
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice-
for then I find doors shut on me.
So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses – homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktailface, with all their conforming smiles
like a fixed portrait smile.
And I have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart.
I have also learned to say,’Goodbye’,
when I mean ‘Good-riddance’:
to say ‘Glad to meet you’,
without being glad; and to say ‘It’s been
nice talking to you’, after being bored.
But believe me, son.
I want to be what I used to be
when I was like you. I want
to unlearn all these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snake’s bare fangs!
So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
once upon a time when I was like you.