Category Archives: Poetry

The Spoken Word Album “I AM” – A Literary Review

Speech is an expression of mental acuity, used as a tool to build communal understanding; and so is poetry in many ways. While the former may be commonplace the vehicle of poetry as a thought-process elevates speech to an almost-divine status. This is the gift and uniqueness of spoken word as a genre of literary expression and it is this unique gift that has emerged from the temperate ambience of Jos city through the recently launched spoken word album of Andrew Patience (AP) entitled I AM. The album I AM, is an experimental exploration of the human condition in search of the beyond, interrogating human existence and self-consciousness. It is packed with 14 creative works, dramatic in tone, laced by musical rhythm that aids their melodious expression.

In one of the works, “Africa’s Rape,” the artiste attempts to invoke the ghost of the celebrated African economic historian Walter Rodney, for a conversation about Africa’s historical deprivation and the complicity of Africans in the continent’s continued underdevelopment. The work “Goodbye Depression” draws attention to depression and insomnia, questioning related misconceptions that tend to foster a culture of silence and undermine mental health concerns. This is a beautifully rendered work of art, crafted with beats that tell the tick-tock of the clock as the writer counts the dark phase of the day “…1 am; 2 am; 3 am; 4 am…with no sleep.” While the emphasis was on depression, the crescendo built to a point of introducing insomnia, but this was not developed further, raising possible conflict about what theme was really being addressed.

The album is replete with diverse titles, such as “Who murdered me?” “The Conversation,” “Without Words, “Woman in Me,” “God?” “Annabel” among others. In “Tomorrow Never Came” AP debuts as a social crusader, angry at the plight of the children and women exposed to the vagaries of abuse and abnegation of life. AP’s maiden spoken word poetry is a three-course literary cuisine, creatively served with love to inspire and satiate relationships at the levels of the individual, societal interaction and encounter with the divine. It shows that spoken word is not just about entertaining the senses, but could also be an activist tool for challenging long-held beliefs about the human condition by bringing issues of societal concern such as child labour, global inequality and collective inertia and neglect to public attention.

The title track of the album, “I AM” stands out on its own as a piece on self-discovery and consciousness. It is a tale of affirmation of conscious experience, but like every seeker of the Truth, the discovery is never complete. The “I AM” track reminds me of the painstaking journey of self-discovery that Anthony de Mello invites us to embark upon in his The Song of the Bird. So, let us listen to AP affirming…

… I’m a living spirit…

Seeking light, preying on wisdom

… I am a strong, feisty goddess

With knees that bend

Eyes that cry

But self conscious in the

I am

… I am the universe and more

Because, simply

I am.

There are areas that the album could have improved upon to enhance its poignancy. The speed and rhythm of the performances could benefit from more distinctive pronunciation of words as well as editorial assistance to bring the listener to the state that the performer’s work desires. No writer writes for herself alone, much less a performance poet, whose aspiration is to reach the heart of the audience through the ear.

On the whole, the album I AM is a highly creative and imaginative collection of works by one of Nigeria’s upcoming performance poets with so much promise to stand on the world stage. In the words of Ellen Bryant Voigt, “the making of a poem is not a performance but an adventure, an act of discovery.” AP’s work clearly epitomizes this, inviting us to question our belief systems, explore our sense of consciousness and embrace the best in us while also accepting our sense of humanity. This is an invitation for you to set forth on this journey with the album and be rest assured that, if you pay attention enough, you will find a message that resonates with your person.

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The Massage

Drunk with tiredness
I slouched into the bathtub,
Submerged beneath its currents;
The banks overflow, engulfing me
To ease my thoughts and with it
My stressed body’s tenseness;
Laidback, I lay my back in calm
On its bottom, my bottom rested
As though embalmed by the elements;
Bathed beneath the bath,
I’m cleansed As a lamb prepped for slaughter;
Massaged in this temporary spa
My legs emerged from its depth
And the white towel throws its arms
Around my watery body to caress.
I feel refreshed. I’m fresh, in a breath.
I sow a smile, singing a song
Waiting…

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Drums of Distance

Even in the midst of a crowd,
When the noise is loudest,
We can still hear resonant voice of depth.

Even in the midst of mist,
When the cloud is dulled by dimness
We can still let our eyes see.

Even in the midst of distant spaces
Shredded by the exigencies of life
Thoughtful moments are near.

Even in the midst of passing years
Interspersed by silence and chats
You leave a smile in your trail.

Even in the midst of abundance
Of gracious blessings received
You’re poised to welcome many more.

Even in the midst of letting today
Remind us of long ago
You’re blessed to look to tomorrows with love.

Even in the midst of these words
Born of warmth and tenderness
I’m sending you their gracious lift.

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Dilemma

Freewill, I emerge from her womb
With rarest gift nature bestows
And took as companions faith and reason
As first free deed of my will.

Into philosophy I plunged with faith,
Crossed the line of aesthetics
To hold a rare date with logic
And there I lost my faith.

Retracing my limbs, I leaped
Into theology with reason
And saw guilt littered all round
And there too my reason was gone.

Reversing the network at will,
Into the other I plunged the other.
And still was left with something gone
Only now it was my freewill

One of two things it seems I must do
Choose between my will and others
But whichever way I dare turn
My humanity is there at stake

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The Dawn

Everyday I rise
To a fresh
Good morning
Of newness
Behind the whistling
Of the pine
Seeing
Your miracle
Aglow with
A sparkle of hope

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Black Gold of the Rainforest

Our land is a virgin, a maiden
Adorned with black gold of the rainforest
Surrounded by the wild of the coast
Shared in peace by her children
From the Cross stretching to the West.

That was then…

The maiden weeps, the maiden bewails
Her fecund laps stretched in disregard
And her hymen broken, her hymen
That conceals the differing ovaries within.
Now her soil is stained with blood
And her innocence sucked.

Her ovaries struggle within
To control the slimy fecund oily soil,
I mean of what is left,
While the imperialist jabbing heightens.

She’s pregnant…

Our soil is oily, our oily soil
Soiled by the oil of bourgeois machinery
Imperiling our land with imperialist outflow,
Milking adversely our bio-diversity.

Washed away are the resting abodes
Of our fore-gone sires through
The bird-foot region to the Atlantic,
Leaving their manhood bare-buttock.

And now we struggle within
Increasing her pains, spilling blood
And intensifying the imperialists imperiling
Of her innocence, our fecundity.

She writhes in pain…

Burnt within,
Suffering from the baton of abuse
From without,
Midwives are come to the rescue.

But will the confinement yield
And she be delivered of live births
That shall mock the imperialists
And restore her sanity, her resilience?
Or will her births be born still
Saying her gestation is not done?

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divinity is an art

Our divine quest mocks our being
And befogs our nature visible:
The creative instinct of a Creator.
Earth’s manifest vastness of His presence
Teaches that of being creative or divine
It is in the trappings of the former
We are held hostage in His likeness.
Trapped in the web of this likeness
The creative instinct bestows the divine;
Or does something else reveal the contrary
Other than these same trappings?

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Retirement

Come home, my love
Away from those dog-eared notes.
Come, let me sing
The lyrics of your lips.
Supper beckons from the bedside.
The turbine is down,
The moon shall be our witness;
…the pumpkin sauce
…the white spread,
Come, let’s sing our being
And consummate our oneness.

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QUIESCENCE

Out of our prison wall of satisfaction
In the dead of the day’s dark period
Slouch the goodies we lack:
A moment of this.

I adore it,
Admiring its lustrous sparkles
Gusting from the bluish bright cover,
The lapis lazuli of supernal glory.

The air speaks in silent hiss,
Every noise for a while asleep
Except the solemn converse of maker and made.
Returning, this vibrancy vibrates afar.

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Amidst the dark visage

This morning I awoke
To the voices of yesterday,
The disposition and the flair,
The striving and the settled.
They all sang one melody:
Amidst the dark visage
Of receding laughter
And pensive hunger
The world is a beauty
For the sake of our souls.

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