Book Review of THIS CITY KNOWS MY NAME by Abayomi Abiru

I sow my hope in the loam.

Soon, I shall have

A garden radiant with dreams…

//Seedling In A New City

 

Abayomi Abiru displays his transcendence as a poet and storyteller in his debut book; THIS CITY KNOWS MY NAME. With similes, metaphors and imagery guiding and exposing, the charm of words enshrined in this collection.

 

Abayomi has established himself as a master-storyteller, one who is not just able to grapple his reader’s attention, but an entertainer as well.

 

One of my favourite poems in the collection is Seedling In A New City, a poem which explicates the stories behind most migrations in & out of various nations of the world.

 

No one takes to a boat,

Except home grows wild and

Hungry enough

To devour stars

And the dreams of tomorrow.

. . .

Maybe there are ruins

But I am blind to them

 

The book pushes the reader to a state of PAUSE, REFLECT, PAUSE, CONTINUE – at least I know it did for me. This is because most works in this anthology are almost too relatable to the reader in me. And more often than not, I am reminded that these lines remind me so much of myself.

What I, as an African face.

What I wish would change,

What could be but is not. And many other deliberations.

 

I have taken to

Sailing across the seas

Into the arms of a city

Where the greens

Are greener and

Spring is no food by

The fangs of autumn

               //Not Surviving

 

Asides to the obvious pulling theme of migration and new environment in the work, the author also takes us in his feels, emotions, love, heartbreak, loneliness, traditions. So much so that THIS CITY KNOWS MY NAME becomes a book of different panoramic views.

 

I invoke the name of my mother,

She’s given me the oriji leaf—

If I’ve offended you,

I compel you to forgive me.

               //To Whom Do I Pray In This Land? — with oriji being used as a reference to Yoruba Lyric meaning ‘FORGIVENESS’

 

I reach for you

Like a suckling for his mother’s breast,

But my words are arrows of straws—

They cannot pierce the barricades of your heart.

               //Arrows Of Straw

 

I wear my grief like a necklace

Of briars, She drips life

In plain porcelain.

I add milk and make coffee..

//How I Mourn My Grief

 

Maybe this is what

Freedom means—a longing

To return home. To return to

The chores of my mama…

               //Let Me Go Back Home

 

It is wonderful what words can do to the body. Reading through THIS CITY KNOWS MY NAME, one feels elevated and becomes empathetic for the author as you are drawn in to look through his lenses as he writes. His sadness, joy, accomplishment all become clear through and through within the over 60 pages the book contains.

 

More words to the author as this are but an unfinished journey.

 

About The Reviewer

Emmanuel Ojelade (Ojex) is a social entrepreneur, poet, publisher, creative head and content curator at ArtHut (arthut.org.ng). The organization is one of Africa’s fastest growing writers’ community dedicated to the growth of the arts and culture around Africa, the world and its usage for social impact.

Part of his duties is to help artists get their voices, get published, and get their creative works amplified.

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