This review is like a coat of many colors because the poet deals with different themes such as: identity crisis, nostalgia, hope, hopelessness, emigration, grief, domestic violence, inequality, war and others.
These themes, composed of various aspects of life, give a rainbow to the entire collection and it is only fair to treat them arbitrarily.
Watch History lessons, the fourteenth poem in the collection, Abiru reawakens our awareness of the theme of inequality. The first stanza historically refers to the United States Declaration of Independence, which in summary states that “all men are created equal.”
However, the second stanza contradicts what the Declaration proposes when the persona again alludes to Jim Crow (a racist white organization that threatened and destroyed the lives of many black people in America). The voice ended with a literal allusion to a line from George Orwell’s acclaimed novel (originally named Arthur Eric Blair), Animal farm: ‘In reality, / [some are more equal than others’].
Here, the poet suggests that inequality has run deep and that the aftermath of the Declaration are all history lessons that “they seem to forget.”
On a ship that flees to Tarshish tells the life of the persona, such as the biblical character Jonah, who is believed to be an evangelist but fled and later found grace – redeemed. Still of the world, the persona says he loved “the wild herb/that which is called hemp” and that nothing of God was his concern. But at the end he testifies that he does nothing ‘…if not/in’ [H]is name…a man led into temptation/and saved by grace’.
Basically, the persona acknowledges God for restructuring his near-condemned life, which is a brave thing to do these days.
Further, Want takes the reader into the story of a man who struggled and struggled to make it in life, but depression and vanity found him even in a country with a booming economy. Evoke the mood of pity, as the tragic protagonist of Authur Miller in Death of a seller, it leaves one with the questions: Is there a God? Can someone be so predestined in life? Stanza five implies that when things were not going well, the narrator’s brother knelt and prayed, waiting for a miracle.
It worsens in the next, as ‘…tears and sweat and holy/water/flowed in harmony/at the feet of the altar’. In addition, the narrator becomes sarcastic when he tries to ridicule God, as he says in the last two consecutive stanzas:
but the only miracle
we left with wax:
a boy started his day as a boy
but ended up as a spring wilting
If you look at the stanzas above, you’ll also infer that the narrator’s life has been compared to a “withered” creature in spring (a season when plants bloom). By extension, Abayomi Abiru rides with those who are industrious in a time of plenty, but harvest nothing; thereby cementing the theme of hopelessness.
An art of lack echoes Negritude. The persona begins with an oxymoron, denoting his state of dilemma or complexity regarding his body as a “fine flaw.” He monologues that their bodies (especially about the color of their skin) also show imperfection, but that you shouldn’t waste time proving it, because it takes time and because they are fragile.
However, he testifies that “wrinkles are a sign of grace and strength.” As a result, he wears his with pride because “it is destined to carry the beauty of the galaxy.” Basically, the persona identifies with its color and is proud of it.
Finally, there is the theme of nostalgia. The poet discusses this theme in most of the poems in his collection.
In The language of the rise, the persona uses contrast to show the difference between his new country and his original homeland; where the latter is buzzing with sounds from the train, the loft and the factory, but the former, ‘…unlike home, /only silence makes noise’. You could of course say that this is paradoxical, because the silence torments his soul and makes him miss his original home.
All in all, Abayomi Abiru has left his mark in the literary world with this collection. He is a writer with many laurels to wear, starting with this coat of many colors.
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