Anambra State governor Willie Obiano’s chief press secretary, Mr James Eze, has also been a longstanding journalist and poet. He announced the debut of his new book on Facebook thus:
‘dispossessed’ is a journey through the intricate mind of a poet. It traces the evolution of the voice of the poet and his artistic growth through the three stages of life. It has three distinctive parts representing the three artistic and personal evolutionary stages in the poet’s life — innocence, transgression and atonement. These stages also speak to the poet’s deep religious belief.
In innocence, we encounter the poet in the early stages of his artistic development. The poem, ‘here I am’ presents his hopes and doubts as a creative artist as he contemplates the intimidating rigour of taking poetry seriously. He reasons that poetry is a journey that he can only undertake when he is in absolute self-possession, after erasing doubts about talent and commitment and surrendering totally to his craft. So, innocence is an attempt at self-definition and possession as the poet limbers up for the tortuous journey ahead. He skits through his childhood and adolescent memories, birthday reveries and an assortment of themes that serve as ready materials to hone his craft.
transgression presents the poet at a very delicate stage in his emotional and creative development. His sensibilities have grown. He has discovered love; his attention shifts to the imponderable nature of human affection as he explores his own capacity for emotion and his ability to transport what he feels to words. In fact, transgression puts the subject of love on canvass. Poem after poem, the poet disrobes love with every stroke of the paint brush, carried aloft on the crest of his own intense emotion. He shuts out other human experiences as he savours every moment of his love affair with love. One moment he is on the crossroads of death and rebirth—‘starved of her smile and the fragrance of her breath’—and in another, memories of her provoke his tongue with songs and he is dreaming of rainbows and shooting stars. Love and loss remain recurrent in transgression until the poet begins to accept, finally, the shifting shape of things in life. transgression is therefore a thematic engagement of the pursuit of happiness and the realisation that happiness is a journey without a destination.
In atonement, we meet the poet at the end of his journey. He has almost arrived where he should be as a poet of proven intensity. For a brief moment, we feel as though the poet is angry with his late arrival on this nexus, the realisation that his poetry would be no use if it failed to address the weighty issues of the day. atonement is a frantic attempt to engage the world, not on anyone’s terms but his own. The opening poem, ‘the poets’ republic,’ directs the reader’s mind to an unseen side of the poet.
Once inside the ‘republic,’ the poet guides the reader through a maze of stirring imageries as he casts unflinching gaze on some unsettling themes of his time. He exerts his imagination on themes that give his country a toothache—headaches like the recrudescence of Biafra, the never-ending violence in the North of Nigeria, the place of the black man in the world, the very idea of dispossession and the complicity of the dispossessed in the process of dispossession. In a stab of anger and exasperation, he asks, ‘where is the black man truly at home?’ He probes the conundrum of the black world and the dilemmas of the African Diaspora. But he also pays a special tribute to the historic revolt by seventy-five Igbo slaves in Dunbar Creek, Georgia, in 1803.
dispossessed is therefore a journey that begins with laughter and blissful innocence but ends with heartache and a blinking back of tears. It mirrors life at its unvarnished best. To that extent, the patient reader who travels through its three ‘stations of the cross’ is rewarded in the end with a fulsome experience.
Getting ‘dispossessed’ online:
Please note that we have not yet uploaded to Amazon as we would prefer that people order direct from https://darajapress.com/…/dispossessed-poetry-of-innocence-…
We are making a special offer of a 20% discount on the book for a limited period. The offer will close on 24 November.