POETIC INSIGHT (ISSUE 7)
EKO (OF THE STREET) BY EWO CHIDIEBERE
A Succinct Review by Kolade Olanrewaju Freedom
ABOUT THE POET
Ewo Chidiebere is a young poet from Enugu State and a pioneer Poet-in-Residence at the PIN-Virginrose Poets’ Residency (2016), Victoria Island, Lagos State.
EKO (OF THE STREET)
you are like the bottom half
of a broken bottle turned up
filled with air and water,
we are like the upper half
begging water and air to stay
but they take their leave
as soon as they come.
we’ve folded our thirst
into a soft song
that feeds the stomach with hope.
we need no mansions,
just a little space
to spread our mat.
STRUCTURE: A single stanza poem of 15 lines, Ewo’s ‘Eko’ is appealingly structured despite being a free verse. Each line is made up of monosyllabic and disyllabic words that originate the poem’s simplicity.
MOOD/TONE: solidarity, optimism and resignation
The first three lines of the poem compare Eko (Lagos), a densely populated city in Nigeria, with the bottom half |of a broken bottle turned up| filled with air and water in order to show a contrast between a seemingly blessed city and its inopportune inhabitants, in succeeding lines.
The simile initiated in the first line is complemented with another simile in lines 4-8 where residents of Eko are compared to the upper half of the broken bottle earnestly pleading to be allowed access to stable opportunities being uninterruptedly enjoyed by the lower half – privileged section of the Eko society.
In the other lines of the poem (9-11), the poet, who has all the while included himself as a member of the fortune-deprived part of Eko, talks about converting their unfortunate situation into optimism that quells famishment.
The concluding lines (12-15) show how resigned this upper half of Eko are, about their inescapable and unpalatable condition. The poor standard of living of most residents of Eko is vividly painted by the poet, who alongside others would spread his mat in a little space when night comes.
Poor standard of living
Simile: lines 1-3, 4-6
Alliteration: broken & bottle (|b| alliterates in line 2); soft & song (|s| alliterates in line 7)
Enjambment: runs through the poem with a break at every full stop.
Personification: begging water and air to stay… (line 6)
Assonance: soft and song (line 10)
Synecdoche: stomach (line 11) represents the deprived Lagosians.