How morning remembers the night is a spicy outburst, an appraisal of the state of a nation. It chronicles grief and anguish, the vexing platitudes of power politics and corruption, and the songbird– a song of hope for the citizens who have true trust in the land. This collection urgently warns, and scornfully condemn the foolish and the venal who continuously plunder the wealth and well-being of the country.

Though poetry can be full of light and laughter, it can also capture sorrow, pain, and the fragility of life. In the best cases, How morning remembers the night gives us catharsis. The collection verbalizes the shattered mirror through which we occasionally catch glimpses in the country we called a home. Though you probably shouldn’t read poems about grief every day, sometimes they are exactly what you need.

The collection is divided into three parts. The first part: A Deluge of Grief and Anguish, opens with the poem; Introit:My Memory is a Deluge of Grief and Anguish. In this poem, the poet is seen as a talkative spirit, with a rotund wide mouth. You can call him a town crier. An excerpt reads:

“I, Horseman of memory

Songbird in the noon of time

My tongue, a compass

In the sky of remembrance,

From the cave of silence, I mine my words

On their fleeting waves, I find my rhythm

For memory is a wooden cross

Heavy on the shoulder of pilgrims

Who journey on its path of solemn remembrances

My memory is a deluge of grief, of anguish.”

It’s this grief and anguish that have inspired the poet who is a horseman of memory and a songbird in the moon of time to cry our woes out, accusing our tormentors and naming our expectations through those that have contributed immensely toward the development of the country. This town crier explains gloom in all of its forms: grief, death, rape, rage, despair, greed, heartbreak, betrayal and even the the Biafra war.

The second part of this collection is Miner in the Cave of Silence. This is another significant part of this collection that you cannot give a blind eyes to. The opening poem They Have Not Stolen?  Starts with a rhetorical question. The poem is a satire that lampoons our politicians. The poet uses pun from the beginning of this part to the end, to make an analogy of our politics, and the three arms of government. You will find words like Polithievians, De-Money-Crazy, Legislathieves, Judisharing, executhieves, Maikontri (my country)

In the poem Who Says we are Corrupt? The poet uses rhetorical questions, irony, and satire to ridicule institutions at the forefront of Corruption. I was expecting to hear words like “Kwaruption” Lol.  From this poem, you will see that Corruption has been institutionalized in Nigeria. You will find it in public office holders, Polithievians– sorry I mean to say Politicians, the military, the police force, schools, hospitals, ETC,. The poet uses satire to paint a perfect picture of Corruption in all the sectors of our economy including places of worship. He uses words like Kai!, Haba!, Mba!, Nna!, Ogbeni! ETC to show that Corruption is not pinned down to one tribe. An excerpt from the poem reads:

“Who say we are Corrupt?

Is it when contracts are awarded to

Incompetent acquaintances?

Haba! That is called “empowering local contractors”

Patriotism is a crime? Is a poem to avoid if you have an ageing parents who are pensioners in Nigeria. It explains their plights. I was almost in tears while reading the poem. Ifesinachi Nwadike is not only a town crier, but also a painter. He paints a perfect picture of how these pensioners stand in queues amidst the scotch of the sun as they go through the same process of verification for each administration.

The last part of this collection is titled Songbird. If this poetry collection was to be a drama text, it would be suitable for a tragi-comedy. After purging our emotions, after making us weep, and gnash our teeth, the poet baptized us with a song of hope. Having hope propels us to achieve our dreams and drives us forward toward our pursuits. It also keeps us afloat when everything seems to go wrong, when we feel that we’re drowning. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel, the northern star by which we navigate our lives through trials and difficulties towards our dreams of a better day. When we lose hope, we are like a rudderless ship being tossed about without direction. Having and finding hope, then, is essential for keeping our dreams upright and continuing to sail in the direction of their attainment.

In this part, the poet explains that few Nigerians who are striving to cleanse the land. This is evident in the opening poem On this Eve of Sprouting Madness an excerpt reads:

“Comers at the threshold

Of your legend

Songbird stands, courting incisions

Longing for the saving baptism

Shape my thoughts now

On this eve of sprouting madness

Before it reaches into the marketplace.”

The poet carefully selected some personalities that have made the country proud. These personalities are in various sector— academics, literary spaces, and politics. There is a tone of disillusionment in the poem They Feasted on a Minority an excerpt reads:

“Ezibo!

You left before dusk

From the house

Where you were forbidden to stay the night

Now they have realized

That the water needs not be clean

To quench a fire…”

Songbird ends with a love poem Sweet Scent of Citrus Ifesinachi Nwadike is a master of styles. Here he explains his undying love for his nation. The nation here, is a metaphor for a women named Munachimso. In line 12 & 13, he calls our hope an avocado breast. Thus:

“Your Avocado breasts

Are fountains from where I drink;”

I couldn’t help but to compare it with the poem De-Money-Crazy? Where our politicians are sucking the breast meant for the nation alone, and left us with just an avocado to drink from . An excerpt reads:

“Politrickal bugs

Milking the treasured breast of the

Nayshun…”

The simplicity of style and choice of words of the poet makes the collection a great companion that would greatly inform the readers about the society they find themselves. This collection touches virtually all the facets of human lives and the Nigerian society in particular and Africa at large. Typical of what good poetry should do, this collection highlights the burning issues in the society, such as, leadership failure, corruption, post-colonial vices, terrorism, ethnicity, tribality, etc. A very interesting piece!

Indeed, “we are lucky to have the poet and his voice.”

About the Author

How morning remembers night book review
Okoli Stephen Nonso

Ókólí Stephen Nonso is a Nigerian writer whose poems have previously appeared or are forthcoming in Ngiga Review, Praxis Magazine, African writers, The QuillS, Adelaide Literary Magazine New York, and elsewhere. He has contributed to both national and international pages and anthologies. His short story has appeared in Best of African literary magazine. He is a joint winner of the May 2020 Poets in Nigeria (PIN) 10-days poetry challenge.
You can follow him on: Twitter @OkoliStephen7 and Instagram @Okoliwest90

Omotayo Jones
obinnajones5@gmail.com
An addict with the pen. A student of mathematics and physics, Twitter troll, Facebook comedian and all-round human.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: How morning remembers the night by Okoli Stephen”

  1. A beautifully done review of Ifesinachi Nwadike’s “How Morning Remembers the Night”. Bravo to both the author of the book and the book reviewer! May your writing soar!

  2. Reading this, I’m almost down to tears.
    I don’t know what to say anymore because you really explained it carefully.

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