BOOK REVIEW (ISSUE 8)
REVIEW OF ‘DIARY OF A BROKEN POET’ (A COLLECTION OF POEMS BY STEFN SYLVESTER ANYATONWU) | BY OGWIJI EHI-KOWOCHIO
Life breaks people, so much that quite a number of them, live, thinking death is its only break! DIARY of a BROKEN POET is a juicy attempt at recycling the same brokenness which leaves so many perching on the point of breaking like a bird with wrecked wings, only patiently awaiting death to cart them away. The poet’s attempt to dig through a heap of negative experiences to harness beauty, is commendable.
Life’s hard knocks and seemingly unbearable punches as captured in this piece send a strong message to all: “You are not alone in your pain, I’ve been there before and I made it thus far, look around for my footprints and walk therein.”
Rather than look life in the face and say, “I can’t do this no more.” The writer holds on to his remains, even that which hangs loosely like a fractured bone, held in place by one tendon or flimsy sinew. Too defiant to let go of life, he moulds meaning from of its mud.
Littered with poetic devices and words that strum the chords of many a soul, the poet has done justice to clarity by being explicit with the smooth flow of lines and verses. Below is a tip of an iceberg:
Alliteration “…But I’ve been blindfolded by these three:
Bucks, Booze and Babes…” (RESOLUTION)
“I am denied my place, power and palace…” (I WILL RISE)
Personification: “Looking out the window
watching the sun
in a hurry to follow
today into yesterday…” (HAUNTED BY MY PAST)
“His shoe has never tasted shoe polish…” (BEFORE THE ROSE)
Rhymes: (abab) “I wandered lonely like a cloud,
That flows on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once, I saw a crowd;
A host of daffodils…” (I WANDERED LIKE A LONELY CLOUD)
Repetition: “Chanting… Kill, kill, kill them!!!” (A NOTE OF WARNING)
He goes on to tie the knot of the poem “I WILL RISE” with a palatable pun:
“Like the WIND, I will breeze off trash from EARTH
Leaving the debris of mediocrity to the BEAST.
Like the SUN, I would rise from the EAST.
My rays will reach to the ENDS of the EARTH.”
“…I am not heartless
I’ve just learnt to use my heart less…” (I AM NOT HEARTLESS)
All the poetic devices employed in this collection are easy to relate with, the chances of suffering a literal bloat or constipation after munching these poems are very slim. The poet is nothing like many others, who delight and pride in shaking Shakespeare’s ‘rusting’ spears!
Amid the poet’s confusions, well painted commotions and exudation of pent up emotions, hope weaves its way in, as he cuts through sad losses, heartbreaks, demise of loved ones and the blackness that stems from having air in one’s nostrils. The fine blend of faith, cultural ties (…don’t call me Negro, I am Igbo- I WILL RISE) and the smooth dive into politics (“…And THE TABLE TURNED”) speaks of versatility in this laudable lyrical collection.
As I watched that knife of hope, slice through the many layers of melancholia and gloom in the poet’s tone, he seemed to say inaudibly:
“Life, grin not in victory (at the fall that preceded my brokenness) for I will rise!”
If you want to see how a person can finely knit strands of the past with the present, without leaving out the future, I recommend DIARY of a BROKEN POET for you. It reeks with such originality that is capable of connecting you with the poet and allowing you taste bravery and courage, in its pure form. I cannot but say this is a collection of lessons sieved from a soul, beaten into pulp and bitten innumerable times by life.
Indeed, this is a reflection of the many lives a poet lives all in one lifetime; of young love, wrinkling into a creaky hate, of answers morphing into questions, of faith’s bloody collusion with muse, of dissuaded persuasions, of deviance towing him away from conformity (to become nothing but a ‘societal blight’) all capped by the last piece (which is all drenched and dripping with symbolism) in the anthology: “ONLY COWARDS KEEP MUM.”
DIARY of a BROKEN POET will be many things to many people; to some, a hand to affix one’s heart and get accompanied through life’s lonely journey and to others, a consolation, “I came, I saw, errm I tried!” (HAUNTED BY MY PAST)
Like a well laid bed of imagery, let your soul lie in its verses. Some poems therein, will whet your appetite and others, wet your eyelids, but be assured that a subsequent poem will catch the tears with the hands of hope before it stains you.
Ogwiji Ehi-kowochio Blessing is a native of Benue State, Nigeria and a fourth year student of Agriculture at Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan. She loves writing and is particularly interested in illuminating dark hearts with poetry.
Ogwiji blogs at Poetry Hub; a staccato of munched words off a witty spinning mind insane in arts, words and innovation.