AYOOLA’S ‘MEDITATIONS’ USES POETRY TO TALK ABOUT POETRY – a review by Joseph Omotayo

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TITLE: MEDITATIONS
AUTHOR: GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA
GENRE: POETRY
NUMBER OF PAGES: 122
PUBLISHER: WORDS RHYMES & RHYTHM
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2016
ISBN: 978-978-954-244-4
REVIEWER: JOSEPH OMOTAYO

“i am an open room selling silence…
…i am back here where words are not whores of linguistics” (pg. 16)

This collection makes me remember many things. I remember metapoetry. I remember Octavio Paz. I remember beauty. I remember everything. Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola has not only written an entertaining collection of poetry, the way he courses through your thoughts is marvelling.

Meditations is a collection of poems that probes and throws up questions that probes more.

MEDITATIONS by GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA

MEDITATIONS by GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA

There is an endless chain of thoughts in this collection of poems. With this collection of poems, Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola is calling us into that attentive space that fosters thoughts. The collection seems to touch all realities. This is one thing I’ve always appreciated about collections of poetry.

There are lines in this collection that need to be read twice over. In fact, nothing in this collection is to be given a cursory look.

Meditations is a book of deep thoughts on the affairs of a people, of love and of a nation. This poetry book is rich embroidery of something dear. Issues intertwine to show everything that makes life and everything that troubles it. Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola reflects on sundry issues. This writer’s mind must be gold.

Divided into five parts, this collection is whole. No theme is missing. In a part, the writer follows the tradition common with contemporary poets when he bellyaches about the quagmire this nation is in. This almost does it in for me. The trouble is not in the lines though, rather, the complex of Nigeria is an all too familiar subject that anything that speaks about it becomes drab. Talk about being so inured to the lapsing structure that is the country.

Meditations uses poetry to talk about poetry.

This is how it draws on the resource of metapoetry. And Octavio Paz’s poetry comes to mind. There is the use of abstractness to achieve tangibility. These lines remind me so much of Octavio Paz’s The Spoken Word:

“and in the beginning there is an emptiness
a pen and craving spaces…

a poet and thoughts
lines and then poetry…

and the poetry is good…

here lies the creation of poetry
moulded in an empty emptiness…

like the emptiness in the lifting
within the veins of a trodden thread

heavily light.” (pg. 20)

It is so beautiful, a kind of sweet paradox, when poetry talks about itself. This is a rare kind of poetry I adore. As inscrutable as the poetry of Octacvio Paz may seem in its abstractness and flailing attempts at striking meanings, he writes a kind of poetry that astounds you nonetheless. This writer seems to have dug into that tradition of poetry to mesmerise and de-familiarise us from the common. Another thing I like about this collection is that meanings are couched for your hunting. This is not for an inattentive reader:

“and Adam knew his husband Steve
and he conceived…
we could not Abel or Cain the child
for he was delivered of a long fart cry…
and laugh tears…” (pg. 22)

With the forceful move of that short peom, you remember the shortest poem of Octavio Paz, The Passage. Meditations make me remember Octavio Paz so much.

MEDITATIONS by GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA

MEDITATIONS by GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA

This collection draws you into the beauty of word use. “an ear” is one of such many poems of wonder. It calls always going back to. Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola’s lines are that selfish; wanting all the reader’s attention. Read “an ear”. Meanings are incised. And you need to dig them up. It’s fun. Dig them up:

“last night…

i was an ear
punctured
by the holes of filthiness
severed
by the teeth of saw-ants…

i was an ear
torn
like a song nailed on the cross of cacophonies
crushed
like a virgin rose tramped under hurried feet
bruised by her own thorns…

without a face
without the songs of goodbye
to mother and her tales of tortures
to my twin sister on the other side” (18)

Meditations packs brilliance into “radio, curiosity and murder”. I could buy this collection because of this poem. Arguably, “radio, curiosity and murder” is the climax of this collection placed in the middle of the book. Everything is deployed into this poem. Numerous figures of speech are condensed in such rare prosaic poetic beauty. The idea of radio is toyed on with such confident expressions. This poem is Goodness Olanrewaju Ayoola telling us his poesy is unquestionable. He lavishes ingenuity on this poem.

“i inserted dry cells
into your anus
where your heart is-
and you opened your red eye…

i had questions
why your heart is in your anus?
how you breathe from dry cells?

i pulled out your tin-thin horn
and twisted your tongue
then ambience came
a voice of a woman
too much laughter
too much talk
a meow…wavering shrills
a voice of a man
news and dread
obituary-government-people-society
a truth and so many lied and new lies…” (pg. 28)

Read Meditations, think, read it again, think, and read again. I recommend this.

GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA, author of MEDITATIONS

GOODNESS OLANREWAJU AYOOLA, author of MEDITATIONS

JOSEPH OMOTAYO (@omotayome) is a Nigerian reviewer and blogger. Some of his works are published at criticalliteraturereview.blogspot.com and josephomotayo.blogspot.com.

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