Monday, August 3, 2009

I AM MEMORY; more than just lines.

Jumoke Verissimo remakes language beyond mere lyricism to uncover the roots of pain and the passion that will heal it…”

When renowned poet Odia Ofeimun describes anyone in such generous glowing terms, then that person sure has something of great worth to offer.

To be a witness to Odia Ofeimun’s testimony, I went all the way to the Pen and Pages Bookshop, Wuse II Abuja where she was reading. It was Saturday 28th February, 2009. The occasion was the Abuja Writers’ Forum monthly Guest Writer Forum.

Anybody who has had the privilege of hearing Jumoke read from her beautiful collection I am Memory would attest that hers is a performance not to be missed and her collection, a precious collector’s item.

I am Memory as the title of the fifty-five paged collection suggests is a poetic reminiscence of past experiences, of love, of pain and sadness, some personal and others about a country she loves. The metaphor in the lines are deep and depressing. Yet they connect to the reader in a special way, telling tales…painting images…revealing dreams.

I have always held the opinion that poetry is near worthless if it cannot be performed. Jumoke’s poems sound like songs even when read. Listening to a poem like ‘Ajani’ being performed is a privilege that gives meaning to art itself. It gives that same feeling you had while reciting Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as a toddler. This time however, it’s a lot deeper. It is consuming. It’s refreshing. It is life.

I was shocked to find Jumoke to be one extremely shy, skinny girl with a low cut. She was too shy to agree with her audience that she was a poet. It wasn’t just I alone who noticed her dressing. Someone actually asked her about it. It was ultra simple; a jean trouser and a butterfly-like top. She exuded so much warmth and one could easily put a hand to the pride in her smile as she signed copies of her collection.

Of course, she doesn’t fail to communicate to us through her poems, those things that matter very much to us; like love and politics. And if you think you’ve read the best rhymes in poetry wait until you read these lines of my favourite poem of the collection; Ajani
The beads of waiting
The beads of wanting
The beads are weighty

And for reposing such huge confidence in this budding talent, DADA Books deserves more than a pat on the back. In an industry where only established names get the honour of having their manuscripts looked at, DADA Books has offered a breath of fresh air. Lightening up veiled dreams…offering our hearts a new balm…a new song.

For a maiden collection, I am Memory sure does make a bold statement. The many years of having her work trashed at reading sessions paid off real big. Her tears of rejection have now turned to smiles of fulfillment. The seventeen year old wannabe poet of yesterday is now the celebrity of today.

I leave you with this line from ‘The Rape.’

…conscience pricking vulvas into piles of mangrove guilt

You need to go grab your own copy.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo.

No comments:

Post a Comment