Ifesinachi Nwadike’s debut collection of poetry, How Morning Remembers the Night, is an origami folding with multiple layers of loss, grief and injustice. Its crafting brilliantly exposed those beautiful, beautiful fingers the owner carefully grafted his pains, struggles and most importantly, his thirst for social justice that all combined to transform each word in the collection into fragments of a broken mirror with jagged outlines grating away the soft tissues shielding the heart as one feasts on them.
The book is clothed with rich linen that mirrors its content and comes in three parts or sections with poems of like themes not lacking in imageries and symbols—the making of the souls of the poems in the collection which come alive as you pore through them.
No poem best describes the feeling of loss and the weight of grief that accompanies it than the opening poem: My Memory is a Deluge of Grief and Anguish. The poem is not just my personal favorite in the first section because of how it brilliantly handled the theme of loss and grief—which I have had my fair share of, recently—but for its ability to pick some of Nigeria’s problems and pains like the endless killings and maiming, jungle justices, ethnocentricisms, tribalisms and others—which have combined to mold the state into a quasi-hell—and effortlessly folded them into the origami. The second stanza of the poem made up of three running lines with imageries like a happening apocalypse perfectly lays credence to my labeling of Nigeria as a quasi-hell: “Wrapped in the anguish of fellow countrymen/Buried in coffins levitating in the sky/Laid bare on highways and roadside carnages.” Perfect description of Nigeria where human lives no longer worth much.
In what manner can the pain and grief of a loved one’s passing be better described? In You Danced So Soon, the poet who is obviously a graduate of grief brilliantly paints an image of a loved one’s passing, subtly reminding us of our mortality and powerlessness in the face of death whose inevitability was pictured in his late companion’s feathery feet on the wings of darkness as he flew off to the underworld.
What do we make of sacrifices which go unrewarded? The poet in The Guard at the Entrance of Our Untimely Grave, a poem dedicated to Dr. Adadevoh pointed out the dangers of leaving sacrifices like hers unrewarded. He likened her sacrifice to a child crying in his arms and for those of us that have had the privilege of holding a child, we know how worried we get when the child starts to wail: a sign of a problem in need of addressing. I think the poet’s analogy did justice to Dr. Adadevoh’s situation, as her role in ensuring the Ebola Virus Disease—a situation described by the poet as “locking the stable before the horse could escape”—was contained is yet to be fully appreciated despite losing her life in the process. I think, for posterity’s sake, we can do more than rely on the Horseman’s song in appeasement of her soul. What with the endless racketing and celebration of mediocrity when we have heroes like her yet to be honoured?
It will be a huge injustice if I fail to talk about this painfully, beautifully crafted poem, Death Came Calling in the Guise of Pleasure, for it unmasked the inhumanity of man against man and the godlessness that has left men fetching pleasures from streams of pain. The second stanza of the poem came with all the tools needed to rend any heart that comes across it as it clearly describes the evils of rape: “for four rains/you bore the brunt of brutality/from high he-goats/tethered to the bamboo-pole of your thighs.” The nociceptors are activated as the images in this poem dance and take their place in one’s head and maroons one in a sea full of sufferings, a moment one is left imagining the pain little Ochanya was burdened with, pain she would never survive.
The poet reserved his word playing skills, witticisms and use of dark humours for the second part of the book: Miners in the Cave of Silence. In De-Money-Crazy, he uses wordplay to ask some brilliant questions regarding the state of the embarrassment of lattices we keep mistaking for a nation and the truckload of lies peddled about by the ruling class—the sole benefiters of our Republic of Atrocity—to convince the gullible that all is/will be well, to disregard the call to have the current arrangement overhauled.
I think this Horseman sang well: his boldness and unwillingness to practice economics with truths as shown in this book draws him closer to the threshold of the originalists. This is a quality worth praising and appreciating as art, recently, especially, has lost a lot of truths.
I like how he made no attempt to mask his weaknesses, his fears and uncertainties—as they are part of what make us human—as he journeyed towards gifting us this collection of truths, bitter truths. Uncertainty has a bad habit of creeping into the mind at the cusp of every great victory. The use of the word in the third quarter of the book tells us how much he had to battle it. He fought well, and his victory is not just for How Morning Remembers the Night, but for everyone out there battling different forms of fears and uncertainties to draw inspiration from.
I think this songbird with a deluge of grief and anguish, mining in the cave of silence has more truths to tell us. One is left Oliver Twisting as one nears the closing pages of the book. He has proven, through the gift of this book, to take-up one of many difficult roles of the writer: to be the voice of the voiceless and to loudly tell those truths that are rarely told. Hopefully, we get to hear more from him in the near future.
About the Author
Academic, poet and essayist, Frank Eze’s works have appeared in Praxis, Gnarled Oak, Antarctica Journal, Brittle Paper, Scarlet Leaf Review, Lunaris Review, Kalahari Review and elsewhere. He writes from Eastern Nigeria.