Title: Poems-Short Stories, Playlets & Anecdotes
Author: Adetoun Ayiratu Fagbayi-Mohammed
Year of publication: 2020
Reviewer: Dorcas David
This book is a debut collection of poems, short stories, playlets and anecdotes, about nostalgia by Adetoun Ayiratu Fagbayi-Mohammed. The book is a reminiscence of the Nigerian environment and the author’s life experiences and her love for the environment.
The 59-page book has seven chapters showing Adetoun’s experiences and adventures including her encounters with the environment. Her love for Nigeria was expressed in a satirical piece on ‘tears for my country.’ The book is a collection of several works of her works that were never got published.
The publication consists of work spanning over five decades. She wrote the first poem published in the book in 1959 and some of the anecdotes were penned in 2021.
Being a renowned environmentalist, the poet in her poem melodiously describes her love for nature,
The seed, the sun, and the rain are my friends.
She also made a comparison between nature as it was, and now. She said:
Unadorned, yet serenely beautiful
That is nature as was.
Bare, barren, and no longer bountiful
That is nature as is;
The poet in her collection did not only portray her love for nature in her collection but also poured out her dismay on the activities of man that are destructive to the environment. She said:
Man, for how long will you continue to pillage this earth?
Adetoun, in one of the poems, depicts beautiful Africa before the coming of the Europeans. She satirically portrays the coming of the Europeans as:
Of a stranger disrupts the day, sensing
Her fear, he offers her a sweet, but
About Nigeria, the poet describes her plight over the societal decadence in the country and had hoped that someday a Messiah would come. In her ‘tears for our country,’ she said:
I weep for my country,
A land hitherto of sunshine and laughter
I weep for the corruption
That has destroyed all our lives.
Using an irregular ode, the poet dedicated part of her work, by writing to her beloved unforgettable friends and colleagues at The Corona schools. Thus she wrote a farewell and a goodwill poem to Mrs Somoye, Mrs Mary Sherlow and Carolyn.
In a way of reminiscing personal past experiences, the writer also wrote some short stories about justice- which is an account of a very bitter experience, still fresh in her memory. In A short story at Christmas, she portrayed a poor good child, who on that very Christmas day, got an opportunity to feel loved and cared for, by a total strange family he came in contact with. Also, in one of the writer’s short stories titled ‘The Day I Played Romeo,’ she displayed her un-nurtured acting career which she so much cherished. Although it was a total work of fiction, she still passed the message.
The poet, who is also a dramatist, illustrates her artistic style using a tragicomedy in ‘A World of Our Own and One-Act Play’ to discuss the theme of love, betrayal, death, and the after-world.
The anecdote on the other hand displays the author’s exhaustive boat journey to London, which she titled, ‘Maiden Voyage To London.’ She also vividly accounts for all the funny things that were said by all the children she came in contact with, both her children and the ones she taught during her years as a teacher. Through this very anecdote- Things They Say, there was no doubt for one to say that the writer is so passionate about children, which accounts for her chosen career as a teacher.
Above all, in the assessment of the author’s style of writing, one would comment on her simple use of language, use of figures of speech such as; rhythm, simile, personification, imagery e.t.c to vividly relate to her readers. In as much as, all the works were written as the mood took her, not thinking for a minute that they would ever be published, the writer portrayed aesthetics by giving each piece a historical setting through her display of dates, and either maiden or married name on each of her works.