The York Literature Festival / YorkMix Poetry Competition 2019 is open and for the first time since the competition started seven years ago, international entries will be accepted! The deadline is February 24th 2019.
The sands of Mbanor kiss my feet
As my eyes behold mounds of my past
Thinking of my present as I bury the future
I am at a door in my head
Yesterday a lasting now
Where my will fights convention
Rather than strike at folly
I let my rod slip and take a feather
To tickle correction into my ward
Urging him away from the troubled waters
In which he swims
I find troubles crowd back
And pull him in as he sinks deeper
My feather a stone tied to his feet
I stand before the earth
Fresh sands slipping through my fingers
A glass of fate’s misfortune to my lips as I sip sorrow
I take a rod to close the door to his memory
Where pain sits astride a father’s loss.
Happy Father’s Day to all the beautiful fathers out there and to those mothers who are more fathers than a million others.
Title: Promises on Sand
Author: Amina Aboje
Publisher: Kraft Books
Year of Publication: 2017
Number of Pages: 87
Reviewer: Paul Sawa
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 email@example.com. Amina Aboje is the winner of the Mandela Day Poetry Prize 2016 and lives in Abuja)
The Abuja Writers’ Forum, one of Nigeria’s premier literary organisation is set to host Dul Johnson, incredible writer, scholar and film maker alongside poet Jide Badmus and the sensational musician, Austine Oroko.
If you are in Abuja, do make out time to go to Nanet Suites (beside Bayelsa House, down the road from Federal Secretariat) by 4:00pm for an offering of this great event. SEVHAGE Author, Dul Johnson will be reading from his latest novel, ACROSS THE GULF, a book on the civil war written from a new angle as would leave readers intrigued. This is the third book of Dul’s we have worked on and one of his finest. We had an argument on it – considering he prefers DEEPER INTO THE NIGHT, which is more literary. In his office a month or so ago, I told him that ACROSS THE GULF was a finer read considering it is more entertaining, thrilling and grasping. Being the fine scholar he is, he prefers the one with more lessons.
‘Well, it isn’t as if THE GULF doesn’t have a lot of lessons. But can you imagine that I edited the book and kept smiling all through!’
It is like a continuation of part of the stories in SHADOWS AND ASHES. I am always glad when I come across new narratives, especially when they are engaging. Across the Gulf is a book like that and I think we set the bar with the production of that book’s cover. I will be uploading it soon. But let me not talk too much.
Dr. Emman Shehu has done a good job of consistently hosting writers and artistes every month to a thrilling reading where the public can interact, have fun and get a feel of good literature. I have been a beneficiary of the event – as an invited artiste and as a member of the audience. I think – I don’t think, I know – that it is a place worth going to. IF you can make out time to be there, it would sure be worth the hours.
Did I mention that there is usually great music, a conducive cool (AC chilled) environment, great gifts from raffle draws, amongst other amazing things? Don’t say I didn’t tell you…
For a limited time, Dul Johnson’s book will be selling for a thousand naira at the event. Don’t forget,
Saturday 29th April, 2017; 4:00pm; Nanet Suites. Be there or be square – or whatever they say.
In conclusion, here is the writeup for the event by Ibrahim Ramalan, for Blue Print newspaper… Do share:
The Abuja Writers Forum (AWF) will on Saturday host Jide Badmus, Dul Johnson and Austin (Aush) Oroko for the April 29th edition of its Guest Writer Session which holds at the Aso Hall, Nanet Suites, Central Business District, Abuja by 4pm.
According to a statement signed by the Forum’s scribe, Edith Yassin, in Abuja, one of the guests, Jide Badmus was born and bred in Ilorin, and hails from Omido in Irepodun LGA, Kwara State. The first of four children, he studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Ilorin and bagged a Master’s degree in Information Technology Management at Binary University, Malaysia. He is a practicing Electrical Engineer in building services.
Badmus has had a flair for creative writing as a child and started writing poetry in 2002. He has a wide range of collections on various themes and shares his short stories, critical opinions and poetry on his blog http://www.inkspiredng.com. Some of his works have been published in national dailies and online platforms.
His debut book collection,There Is A Storm In My Head, appeared this year on the imprint of Words Rhymes and Rhythm Ltd (WRR). The poems depict a storm of emotions as a result of life’s uncertainty, disparity between dreams and reality, and the thin line between love and lust. The author’s writing style is defined as simple and deep; his poems are usually brief and fast-paced, the readers are left out of breath and asking for more. He is inspired by nature and beauty.
Jide is married to a beautiful wife, Linda and has an adorable daughter, Nora. He is a Christian and a soccer lover; he is a Manchester United fan. Watching soccer, reading, writing and watching movies are his hobbies. He lives and writes from Lagos.
Dul Johnson is a filmmaker and author from Plateau State and currently lectures, as a Professor of Literature, at Bingham University, Karu. He began his career as a drama director with the Nigerian Television Authority, Jos, and worked for many years before retiring into Independent Filmmaking and teaching. He has won national and international awards with his films and dramas, including There is Nothing Wrong with my Uncle (a cultural documentary), The Widow’s Might (a feature film), Against the Grain, Wasting for the West, Basket of Water, and many others.
Johnson began writing in his undergraduate days, trying his hand at drama, poetry, journalistic writing and short stories. From the mid- to late 1970s he wrote plays for radio (Rima Radio, Sokoto) and for the stage – some of which were produced in his undergraduate days.
Johnson has published five major works: Shadows and Ashes, Why Women Won’t make it to Heaven (short story collections), Ugba Uye: The Living Legend (a biography), Deeper into the Night (a novel) and Melancholia (a play). The last two were presented to the public on 28 October 2014.
His latest publication, Across The Gulf, is a novel that explores loyalty,resilence, nationhood, love and tradition bridging two generations and an entire nation.
Austin Oroko hails from Utonkon, Benue State and is a graduate of the department of languages and Linguistics Nassararwa State University, Keffi. He speaks French and Italian as well as a little German.
Born in Lagos, he likes to describe himself as growing up all over the world with his six siblings as they accompanied their father, a former diplomat, on his official postings.
At the age of fifteen he started writing and singing his own songs with a dream to become a star that will influence the world through his music. Although he owned a keyboard when he was younger, it was his love for the guitar that caught his fancy and has become his mainstay as a performer.
Oroko has been on several notable platforms including AM Express, AIT,NTA Entertainment among others. He spent a lot of time listening and studying classical musicians and the likes of Tracy Chapman and Stevie Wonder who have had a deep influence on him.
His music can be classified as Indie rock with a touch of soul and has recently released a single, Oxygen,
The Guest Writer Session which also features a raffle-draw for books, runs from 4-7pm and is open to the public.
SHARING IS CARING! CHEERS!
Poetry is hope; hope is life; something beautiful.
If you would listen, it is a promise.
If you would listen, quietly and get those codes that gently unveil themselves to us like dawn unfolds to day; like the caterpillar to a butterfly.
It is the look of waters
– on a cloudy night; wait a few seconds for when God’s hands pushes those clouds –
With stars and the moon dancing in a million glitters across several miles;
Can you see the diamonds bobbing up and down as the waves sing promises and freshness to your soul?
It is transformation from bleak to bliss.
It is the sight of beauty, the sound of desire, the smell of hope, the taste of victory and the touch of greatness… It is so much more…
It is your heart in words the mouth cannot utter; your soul in codes your flesh can’t decipher. It is the air and it is the earth – you can feel it without touching; you can grab it in your fingers yet it carries you.
It is dawn – the sun smiling when you wake.
Dusk – when the sun dives back below the earth’s belt.
The moon shining in shapes from a calabash to a banana, on any given night – with its stars glittering and dotting the skies, precious gems lighting the souls of the weary…
It is those words that tell us, who are heavy laden
– lovers who struggle to find the spark of fires that now seem like smoke
– a writer weaving words no one seems to care about
– someone looking over a sick one, in anguish
– people in recession, finding a single meal
– a father who looks to questioning eyes that ask ‘why?’
– a mother, forced to go to a trash can to pick meals like a lunatic, not caring about eyes that stare, as she puts food in the mouth of her baby
It is those words that tell us to look up in hope, even on those nights when the clouds come around to bring a sense of darkness
As you struggle through dusk, note every night gives birth to dawn and day, brilliant rays that will sparkle your existence
When it seems like the end, remember just when the caterpillar thought it was over, it became a butterfly!
The river that looks dark on a cloudy night, inviting you to taste of its depth transforms to a mirror of diamonds with a small push of Aôndo who takes all the clouds away
True. Those clouds…
They never took away the moon and stars. The clouds would slowly float away… but would you be waiting?
That is poetry. That is hope. That is life.
That is you.
You are verse. You are hope. You are life.
Too beautiful to be explained. Too deep to be deciphered at once, yet full of so much and more.
You are beautiful.
If they would listen, you are a promise.
If they would listen, quietly and get those codes that gently unveil themselves like dawn unfolds day; they would see the diamond that hid behind the rough.
You are the sight of beauty, the sound of desire, the smell of hope, the taste of victory and the touch of greatness… You are so much more…
Listen slowly to what the universe just whispered to my heart,
hear it everyday in the voice time should never make you deaf to:
You are the best verse that life ever wrote.
- Copyright ©Su’eddie Vershima Agema, 2017
Maybe we should learn to hate.
Not to love everything, like our heart would have us do. Not to compromise on things that are more of lies, for the sake of – peace.
When they piss on the centre of our souls, quenching the one thing that keeps us going –sanity.
Maybe we should learn to hate.
To rise above the cries we have sobbed, smiling in distress, swallowing sadness while lingering pain stabs us deep in the heart where no one can see… Even in love, we offer another plea…
Maybe we should learn to hate.
Shout at the arrogance of asses that fart noises to our noses, entrenching deeper stripes into our skin as more wipes are lashed by those we throw our hearts at, as they target carefully aimed darts…
Maybe we should learn to hate.
Maybe hate should grow. Slowly, a spark at a time till it flames and enrages our being, burning every fibre to shout at every evil, stare every stupidity and not be trampled by those who live that we may die…
Maybe we should learn to hate?
- Su’eddie Vershima Agema
OUR NIGHTS NEED MORE STARS (A Poem) by Benjamin Elemide
(for Su’eddie Vershima Agema)
our nights need more stars
to brighten hope for tomorrow
our galaxy devoid of constellations
that keeps eyes glued to miracles
i saw you birth stars into words
to keep us smiling like morning sun
i saw you weave history in your footprints
for posterity to learn wisdom from you
when you find yourself in the sky
don’t forget to write yourself with clouds…
Long ago, I learnt from someone that commitment and love go far beyond words. Today, I found that love in many ways.
I had put off notifications on Facebook so I was sure that I would not have too many people disturbing my peace. Still, calls came in from different sources and I learnt that there are other social media channels that will still make public announcements! Friends and family threw words at different moments that left me smiling. What more can I say?
I got to also tick off several items on my TO DO list.
I have picked a lot of lessons today. Everyone has problems and issues, activities, interests and other people too that they have to cater to. Give space. As long as you have grace, Aondo’s goodness, accept the love that will come your way from a myriad of sources without expecting much. Also, always make time to think and pray. Especially for your significant other (always), those you love and everyone else who matters. In all seasons, no matter how you feel.
Special thanks to those who took out to reach out, especially those who took time off important schedules to write notes, say prayers and be with me. I am deeply honoured. No gifts can replace the time and affection. That’s what counts the most to me.
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
About Kahlil Gibrain
Kahlil Gibrain (1883-1931) is one of the world’s most popular and best selling poets of all times. He was a Lebanese-American poet, philosopher, artist and writer. His writings are deeply prophetic (he actually has a book titled The Prophet 🙂 ) and deep. Google his poetry and if you get the opportunity, buy and/or read his books. His words are transforming if you let them sink. Now, let’s end this with a quote from him:
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
(After Sam Smith)
Stay with me
The beads of your jigida have been strung
Awaiting the flare of your hips
And the calefaction of your skin
Stay with me
Your betrothed has filled the yam barns
Waits to ring your eyes with camwood;
To filigree your skin with henna
Stay with me
I hear the scream of the unborn in your loins
Your pain is a double-edged sword
Cutting through our hearts.
Yet while poppy tears course through your veins
Won’t you stay with me?
Stay with me
I have held open my eyes
For endless nights
Propped up on stilts of countless prayers
The red has crept in from the sides
And Hypnos plays a haunting melody
Stay with me
While I rest my weary head
Let my heart beat a normal tattoo
For a minute or two.
Don’t slip away while I sleep.
Spurn Thanatos’ advances
And stay with me.
From the chapbook, The Enchanting by Agatha Aduro. Click HERE to download.
The Almighty gives a gift – of a rose, to those who are blessed.
You hold it carefully, and ignore the thorns. You smell the fragrance and enjoy its beauty, always knowing that one fine tomorrow perhaps, it will wither. Or maybe you will wither first. Maybe a miracle will enclose you both into an eternal glass that wouldn’t ever break.
There’s just now. You and your rose.
Inhale deep, and enjoy the fragrance. Lock it in your thoughts.
And if tomorrow takes any of you away. Smile, for today, you lived in the greatest of fragrances and beauty: the moment of the rose.