Archive for the ‘Works of Oyin’ Category

by Oyin Oludipe

(Written on a Harmattan in Epe)

I sit on shadows, strange
Flights on crosswinds shred
On rust fingers. Through wheeled craft
I sit an earth’s labour to reap
A dance of leaves, newsprung –
Then to sudden dearth –

Is the shrill echo of life
This broken robe of dust cannot tail…
Behind a misted shelf of waters, paint all,
An amber row of roots, air-threads cut
On gale interstices, watching
Clouds that drop as lone prayers
Of mariners they…

Voices new circle
Ghost pastures to the realm,
Terraces of heat to bush prances.
Awaiting silver reins, I sit
A season’s storm to watch
The story of the rot

Oyin Oludipe is a poet and playwright, runs the blog, Hairy Diary ( You may contact him on twitter @Sir_Muell

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity


Poet: Carl Terver
Reviewer: Oyin Oludipe

“I know this place where civilisation
Runs along torn asphalts…”

These three-month gone, I have observed that poetry can invert itself to be an emotional hallucinogen; that it can sometimes betray its very own bard as to transpose the weight of its intended meaning, and after a varied moment, create a sound, a scene or something that was not. Possibly, a beatification or the signature of an expressive insurance (for the poet).
Only when the social creature begins to display an evidence of sensitivity, an image of fear and agony, only then does the instance for consolation seriously begin to surface. To that ritual is poetry sometimes inspired. The gift can make the dejection of the composer ever-timely, not seeming too proud or too irrelevant.
The contemporary Nigerian poet, full of the burden of a messy tradition, appears to have bored himself of unresolved battles. Even so, he still contests the impulses of dubbing his tempered vision to the background. In this is the solemn action taken to secure a moral standpoint and build an artistic consciousness around it. In such cases only are lamentation amply justified.
Encountering Carl Terver’s Till the Swallows Come Home, one comes to term with a fervent irreverence, a kind of fore-knowing tumult which grows into an omen of regret, of suspicion, which works through the dominant act of dialogue. The long poem says so much about the Nigerian darkness, about the “notes that sound like Stridulations to our eardrums.”
Halfway down the missive that sounds like Wole Soyinka’s Elegy For a Nation, the critic will ask, Why has this poet not written a conventional facile tragedy? That a monologue could be so single-mindedly drawn into a realism discourse is an applause to the poet. It is easy enough to spot the grime on the wall but Terver expressed strong views about himself and the country in a critical period in Nigerian history and the Nigerian present.

“Halcyon days were my thoughts/But the heights are now devolved”

The dividend of an upright democracy constitutes perhaps the most restless hope of his race, but like the illustrious Frantz Fanon rightly believed, “the artist who has decided to illustrate the truths of the nation turns paradoxically towards the past and away from actual events… the native intellectual who wishes to create an authentic work of art must realize that the truths of the nation are in the first place its realities.” In the course of dramatising the condition of pain and nostalgia, the poet indicts the sadistic worldviews against the establishments of memory, which were “those days when patriarchs composed notes”, days which are or were, of course, responsible for his erstwhile joys:

“On her fifty-third, country was stolid / With no music of culture / My hubris receded to salty waters.”

It is his first ritual that defines the very depth to which his nation has sunk, “wander aimlessly in the mire.”
Two kinds of voices are heard in this poem: the questioning and the aloof. It is questioning when the poet inquires into the legacy of compromised followership. It is aloof when he denounces the central leadership as absent-minded, hypocritical and insensate. In both, there is a nervous passion partly because of a vigorous individual attachment to a political resolution as shown in “Is the world not in dire need of extremist?” and the stealth row about the “cactus-infected land.”
“I hate to tell the tales of the end of the world
But until trees walk on naked limbs, I shall
Dream not of heysomeness.”

Spoken like someone who has witnessed the landscape of death and, yet, refuse to be soiled by submission, by acceptance of the status-quo; Terver aims not only at socio-political criticism but also at the imminent – a rhetoric, as a driver of that worry, to determine what seems to be the lot of the constant deprivation of self and society. The poet’s cross-questioning should not be seen as the rigidity of a mourner; rather it is a tactic through which he inspires other hidden questions vital to the future of his particular experience, and that of his generation.
The clause “till the swallows come home” is an embodiment of the finite doubt, the poet’s positive disposition, displayed pessimistically. As privy to the realisations of the identity of the swallows are and where home is, it appears that some portions of the poem might have been inspired by conversations of the poet with comrades, some of whom he briefly addressed in scattered parts. “Dairo, the days are yellow”, “Oladele / May you…Become associate professor of creative writing / Or African Studies…Ha! Viking? / Break free from tradition”, “Was there ever a path, Oyin?” Some of it draws from the concerns of “a rumpled culture” and history being a “sonorous fable knitted by clichés”. All of these are emblematic of the extinction of civilisation to mass illiteracy, religious fanaticism, intellectual absolutism, a bungling educational system, irresolution of the government in power, and most troubling, the relegation of history, of 1966, “the harbingers’ days”.
It’s livid like how the pensive Teju Cole writes in his memoir, Every Day Is For The Thief: why is history uncontested here? The consequence thereof is what Terver describes as “rehearsed folly.”
However, before the poet brings the swallows to bear, he does not ignore the intense primacy of the “story (he) never wanted to tell”. His clamour reveals home. His “clamour is: where is the nation?”
“The nation is not the white-faced chieftains…
Crafting another Bill of Mockery, not a putrid carcass…
The nation is the wailing dream whose ribs
Are poked by the ineptitude of pharaohs…
The nation is the [pedlars] who eke from
Hold-ups, the Nafisats who hawk kuka
At ten pms; The nation is the dream that
Has no wings while time flies;
The broken calabash and all that inspires
Wisdom, scattered and desecrated at the
Crossroads; the crawling casement that
Breeds educated puppets…”

The poet uses many poetic devices to his advantage, a fusion of self-dramatizing metaphors and interesting intertextualities which prove the presence of maturity and self-control. It is cathartic to find Bulawayo in “We might continue / To bear new names”, Achebe in “We are mothers, refugee camps, and tiny graves”, Yeats in “The falcon did hear the falconer”, Soyinka in “Our day twisted like a shuttle in the / Crypt” and Langston in “a dream that / Has no wings while time flies.”
While it is apparent, the acute pessimism of its message, the latter part of the poem draws attention to the earlier “Last sentinels of Salvations / Battered by weeds.” Activists? the brave literati? Our last resolve for national re-affirmation? Though it is the poet who says “The harmattan has cracked his soles for too long”, the poignant question hangs, obdurate in the head, when will the country be revived, or perchance, born again. And though we die in the attempt (as Soyinka testifies), will the patriot remain a subject of gamble to that promise?
As a note to its pathos, I say Terver’s work is grim and harsh and well-written.

Read long poem here:

Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity

by Oyin Oludipe

Yesterday, a man died. He was strapped to a pole and beaten until his head sank with blood. A violent flock of agile hands was his last audience. The opera subsides to the gentle exits of feet and logs. Yet no one really knew why he had to die, the lone man; only that when he was alive, he walked like a lady, loved to wear colourful clothes and had too much male friends.
So if he was humiliated, perhaps he would change; or if his life was taken, he would reincarnate as a ‘real African man’. But no change occurred today, only a bit of sorrow in his lady-like gait. And alas, no one felt a reincarnated presence.
The Nigerian humanity has had to weather a successive wave of horror: the oppressive boots, cabal politics, plane crashes, pedophiles, Boko Haram and now, an aftershock of gay-law debates.
The single imagery did not just evolve as co-existent ripples from the textbook pages of history. It simply materialised its scenes from a long-shaded homegrown barbarism, a sort of: advertise that legacy of madness to the roving public but do veil the cost.
Here we are faced with a weird inversion of human taste and reasoning or perhaps, Darwin is vindicated for his evolution goof. All the more strange and funny, it seems there is the advancement of a new breed of sapiens parading the earth with hormones diffused by the very much vaunted fantasia of gender roles and heartbreaks!
Perhaps it is wise to exercise silence at a point in time. But this is different. As it concerns the liberalist custodians of the homosexual pride and on the other end, the macho-minds of religion and ideology; Nigeria is primed for yet another climate of diversion.
One hardly finds anything that looks like an appealing choice, any pre-possessing premise more intelligently imposed. Yet I am impaled by the fear that civilised life on our land is on the brink of extinction.
The collective orientation – backed by a rigid sensibility – of accusers is this: ‘Blackman knows no sodomy, and should never’. Yet, just so few have come to accept that it is the condition of human diversity to be lumbered with mysteries; ones particularly besmirched by cunning political interpretations, and all the more threatening, unwarily twisted by the arrogant paraphernalia of fundamentalism.
While it is too late to quench this torch with sermons alone, this expression of intolerance even from a government consecrated upon the very touchstone of the concept, ‘freedom’; undeniable is the fact that, like the religious ‘knife-wielding’ fanatic, the gay man is not new and has never been, even in a wider continental enclave where such phenomenon has stormed scattered tribes and cultures.
Historical reality attests to such precision. It is hinged on the quite unquestionable need to first recognize the differences in genetical formations, backdrops and even strategies of self-attainment, the reality of which no one will reasonably argue against, even divine intuitions and prophecies.
However, the pseudo social being is yet to reconcile himself with that climate of human dignity, yet to surmount his hubristic supposition with a respect for others’ freedom, something he avows to be a certificate of his worth and validity as member of that baffling crossroad called humanity.
Still too preoccupied with his political will (if it is to render neo-colonial imperialism impotent) or afflicted with the whims of culture or inebriated by the endorsing compulsions of ‘religion’, the pseudo-human has lost all perspective, that as it pertains to the volition of his fellow human.
Of course, these same drowning claimers of standards are not themselves alien to the singular truth that whatever circumstances of birth, upbringings and opportunities make of each citizen is only relative but cannot be set as standard to determine his value, his entitlements from and obligation to the rest of society in the quest for appreciation and for social relationships.
But what if a culture that flourishes polygamy, tacitly permits its conceit, can argue that world efforts to resuscitate public health by restoring the dehumanized their robbed poise will ruin its sovereign identity in the global sphere; or what if a diverse colony of humans claim that their existence lies on the endangered precipice because of a less-than-equivalently-sized portion of it; it would appear that the pseudo Dervishes in this country are not alone. These rationally-reclined touts are no different than the bigots swelling tides of blood in the North.
In addition to Human Rights, there are also those other menaces that are concealed in this belittlement fiasco.
How can a nation subject a group of its members to grisly confinement, when it seems it has not and will not possess the tool to fully understand or reconcile the nature of the confined? Has the world here find the correct therapy for the gay man to be in dark defiled prisons?
In spite of the ridiculous on-goings, gay men, like pompous religious extremists, will continue to obtain a decentralised existence here. Like the author Chimamanda said, one cannot legislate a world that does not exist into existence.
If the resolve of a nation is to exhume its most mundane genes of intolerance and murder a sizable portion of itself in its timeless plot, I say Kofi’s expectations of ‘a twenty-first century defined by its commitment to the dignity and sanctity of every human life’ will find its grave somewhere on the Nigerian earth.
The predatory stance here begins with illusion, not the law. The law did not change anything, not the instinctive spite lodged in the marrow of our injudicious majority, not our ever-shrinking trajectory for culture. What the law has done is carve a totem of sadism and place it on the glaring notch for society, normal or abnormal, to defy.
It is righteous enough to append to morals and the need to operate on its implied counsels and various cogitations. However, the desire to ostracize, to castrate and to rob a race of its dignity so they might be evicted to a condition of animal reality, or rather reconciled to resort to defences worse than such is no part of that virtuous crest.
Let our very ideology of normality be our teacher. There is no mistaking murderous zeal for common piety.
A legislation that ignores the intrinsic quality of the multitude cannot be considered a just legislation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

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Lyriversity — Liberty of Creativity