I have always believed that any literary work should be accessible such that the reader can feel like he is a part of the story or a part of the journey that has been written on the page. It doesn’t matter the genre; the work should speak to you. If it doesn’t, probably, you are not the one the book is written for. I have struggled with reading poetry a lot of times because when I pick up some collection of poetry to read, it feels like I am reading something from an alternate universe and so I don’t connect with them. The exact opposite happened when I read of thoughts and naughts.
I got to read Praise Sanni’s Adeniyi’s debut collection of poetry, Of thoughts and naughts, and instantly I was drawn to every poem. She has also said that she is more inclined to free form and verse because she wants to communicate and not be bound by rigidity and rules. Well, she definitely pulled this off. The collection is broken into five parts and each part embodies certain themes that the poet seeks to communicate to the reader.
The first part speaks of life as it is—harsh and painfully real—but it shows how we relate with these realities we can’t seem to shake off, these ‘colours that we cannot change’. We strive for better, create euphoria for ourselves in the bid to find a sense of peace but we move around in what the poet calls Cycircles; life moving as a circle of circles. Therefore, in the six lines of the poem, ‘Cycircles’, Sanni-Adeniyi somewhat paints the image of the existential nature of man, reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot trope where man keeps waiting for some form of change but it never comes.
Sanni-Adeniyi moves from gloom to bloom in Part 2 where the poems give hope and inspire the reader. In the poem ‘Naysayer’, the poet speaks of turning negativities we face as stepping stones to achieving greatness to prove the doubters wrong. In the poem, ‘Truer Meanings’, the poet recognises the pain we feel whilst also showing that laughing becomes more meaningful after experiencing sadness.
In Part 3, the poet holds up a mirror to the reader for some form of self-examination. Though this runs through most of the poems, irrespective of the parts, but the opening poem ‘Loner’ and the next one, ‘Scars to your Beautiful’, point the reader to search within himself/herself and find who he/she is; scars and all.
In Part 4, the poet does a sauté of many poems with different thematic preoccupations but all still tied to the string of self-reflection and self-examination. Part 5 on the other hand, pushes the reader to appreciate his identity—who he truly is; E.g., ‘New Birth’ and ‘Becoming’ and the need for one to be honest with oneself and others. E.g., How are you?
This is a strong debut with so much to say to anyone who picks it up. The poems are reflective and introspective. The language is simple and down-to-earth. The meanings are not hidden in flamboyant imagery but are clearly written and simply stated without ambiguity. This is a collection of poetry I would recommend. Well done, Praise Sanni-Adeniyi.
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