Author : Oluwatoyin Odusanya
Genre : Poetry
Publisher : Redletter Crib signature
Year : 2021
Pages : 54 pages
Reviewer: Sony Kaku
Oluwatoyin Odusanya’s reputation as a brilliant poet is evident in her use of potent metaphors in this beautiful collection of forty two poems. Her handshake with literary devices is not just meteoric but also copacetic. In this collection of poems, like clear keen flames, Oluwatoyin explored the theme of abuse, loss, grief, hope and light.
In the poem, Girl child, Oluwatoyin sat us in her gondola of startling elocution to the coast of emotive spar and wrestle – and later bound us to the speed boat of memory. She questions the sometimes pernicious drift of fate and the brutish claws of pain – and then human longing for medicaments of any kind to soothe their cries
She dealt with threads of displacement and the stolen mandate of her people in a furtive and stern enunciation in the poem, bad cowboys. …run through the wild wild thick of peroration and pick the thorns off your tongues frame the glorious weeds of words / place it on scalpels and humpy prongs/ call the wheel / rile the pew/ slit the ranch/ wound the rope of calumny / purloin the dairy/ etch your greed with a smirk at your monstrosity by the burgeoning sea…
Like clear keen flames is a philosophical reflection on life, death, love and the realities that constantly remind us of our whittling burst of breath. It reminds us that man is transient and everything we hold dear will eventually slip into an uncomfortable blackout. An intrusive knockout by time. And that at the end of our elegantly frail lives, we all become fossils for the earth and like all those that came before us, we become specks of memories.
Like clear keen flames accentuates the indubitably immersive indulgence of humans to explore their space and form characters and values based on their interactions with the exogenous variables in their space.
In the poem, For Chibok and Elizabeth, she churns out words that berated the curse of bigotry and the ruthless killing of people for the beliefs they held. The persona in the poem found it alarming and depressing; having to watch another human being lit up in an academic environment where it is supposed to be a refuge for academics and people who have a diverse view about diverse things in an assumed cosmopolitan environment open to intellectual spars and debates.
… the tires are wet with grief/this repulsive show of shame/ o poor you / a curse in the air for these lunatics / draw stones for this sorrow / nascent girls in the forest of misery/ loathsome touch/ stolen innocence / gagged drums/ legs skewed/body swimming in the fire/ swimming to pale/ from pale to a rant of statistical error…
Her jeremiads about the state of things in her country in the poem, Finding green, expounds on the sociopolitical realities and shenanigans of the society.Living in a dystopian society has the proclivity to leave one in a perpetual state of insanity and to escape the lunatics tormenting our consciousness, Oluwatoyin offers solace in the consoling lyricism of poetry and the excruciating splendour of metaphors to ink her emotions and disenchantment with the polity. The poem, Up Nepa, captures this reflection more succinctly.
a flick on the wall for happiness —
agony like weeds listening to the cackling sprouts of chaos
Squinting filament of light that drifts like moon-lit ripples along the navel of a widowed meadow
while we await the burgundy darkness the quieten of laughter
The persona goes on to describe the problem of power-cut in her country. The people first shout in merriment to resume their activities aided by light and then hiss and suck their teeth when the light is interrupted again; then rummage for the right words to explain the epileptic power cut – with debates held everywhere to describe the perfect tense for power cut. It is an abnormal scene in every sense to keep scouring languages to describe the misnomer and greed of a polity. She describes her love for her mother in the poem, Sunflower:
this light sure blinds darkness
thin streaks of cloudlets
across an azure sky
plaiting words on horizons
bloom with the wind
no left handed masquerades
will pass the child to oblivion
a tirade of care …
In the poem, Dark sun , Oluwatoyin wrote about a forlorn lover whose life later bloomed having had innumerable breakfasts. The persona lampoons her lot and Interrogates the cause of her woes. Do not tell me where to sit / arms spread on the sofa / legs gnashing at the red carpet/ lips folded in sacks/ her dart at the pinky finger/ a stare across the room/ window curtain wound up/ he is not coming / it is half past the allotted dinner time/ a beep in the distance/ what ghost pierces through the night …
In conclusion, Like clear keen flames is a journey across a town of words, hills of emotions and cities of memories and a vast scenery of chance. Oluwatoyin in this collection, has written frest pieces that will inspire, reproof and rebuke the reader to consciousness with her lacerating metaphors and boisterous tone. She is a literary focus in this milieu.