Of the Love of Memory, and the Memory of Love: A Review of Adeola Juwon’s Songs of Ori

Since language led man to such mode of expression as poetry with recourse to its kinship with emotion and emotional awakening, the subject of “love” (man’s practical application of that same ‘emotion’ to harness his being) has been eternal in such writing. Also, although we speak of (most times, against) cliché expressions used in poetry where language is considered the means to an end, the subject of love has never rendered the poetry of any generation trite. So, when Ori Canticles begins with the (almost introductory) expression: “once again/I begin this poem…” it is but the poet about to harness his being, as well as that of his reader.


As it’s evocative in this chapbook, it is important to note that poetry is a means through which man (like the poet here) keeps time with his memories — in this case, memories of love. And love, all through the evolution of poetry—from traditional to modern—has proven to be the stuff great memories are made of. What one experiences in the pages of this chapbook is a sheaf of memories gathered through the period of the persona’s  love life. However, much as no love story is ever a private affair as it might seem, it is a relative “love affair”, where “You remind me of places” (“Song One”) is only a reminder that every love story (told or listened to, or read) is a shared experience, a shared lesson in a particular period or place.


The harnessing of emotion in this chapbook is equally reflected in the structuring. Against monotony, the poet’s use of numbered “song” as title of each poem is simply a structural attempt to elicit unification of voice and message, as well as lyricism. In this attempt, each poem (like the versification in hymn and other religious books) becomes a continuation of the previous, although the thematic concern varies—a necessary variation intended to capture the multilayered experiences therein. Through such artistic consciousness to lyricism and style, the poems easily move from praise/panegyric to lamentation and/or heartbreak; from loneliness to desire; from hope to prayer/wishes—not as independent projections, but as fragments hewn from one tree: love. By such structure, the reader easily fathoms that these fragments are the stuffs such tree is made of, not without. I must add that this hymnal structure is what gives credence to the artistic nuance of this chapbook.


Ori Canticles is a chapbook with a subtle stylistic depth that transcends its briefness. The poet’s varied voice, captured in the length and depth of the poems, shows the undulation of emotion; it also evokes the wavy movement of the sea of love. In one line, one reads a beautiful affair; in the next, the beauty is stifled into mourning, such as in: Ori/there’s something surreal/about invading spaces/Oh, how perfect we are/Oh, how we fill each other’s emptiness!” Then, almost suddenly, one reads: “Ori/Your love takes the stand of italics/Fading and too light to hold/Like time, it escapes my grip”.


The poet, conscious of the artistic marriage between style and artistry, strives for a balance, even while the message seems poignant, almost stripping itself out of poetic particularity which is the hallmark of every artistic rendering. In the end, it is this artistic “balance” that will surface in the appreciation of the beauty of this chapbook after reading.


Nket Godwin, poet, literary critic.


Nket Godwin is a poet, literary critic and book reviewer. His works, mostly poems, spanning different forms including haiku and senryu, have appeared or forthcoming in both local and international magazines, anthologies. His works have appeared in Afrocritik, Africanwriter, Afreecan Read, Conscio magazine, Libretto, Eboquill, Best Poet of 2022 Anthology published by Inner Child Press, USA, HaikuNetra Magazine, and elsewhere.






Please follow and like us:

Join our mailing list for amazing content and writing resources!

The best literary pieces delivered straight to your inbox!

Leave a Reply