These four recommended poetry books are from Nigerian poets. The importance of curating this list is to show the brevity side of Nigerian literature, especially the genre of poetry that some readers often complain of being ambigous. So if you are looking for an unambiguous poetry reading that pierces through your mind into the depth of its messages, these four collections are highly recommended.
Pamilerin Jacob – Songs of Repair
Pamilerin’s recent offering—thirteen poems on love, heartbreak and hope—leaves you in a trance, with mixed feelings to explore love or not and to risk your tender heart for uncertainty or to guard it religiously. With proper scrutiny, I believe Pamilerin’s poems in this micro chapbook are personal, too personal. He has lived the experiences that swim through the narration in the collection. There’s nothing much to say until you flip through the pages, and get to experience how a poet genuinely loves, how a poet isn’t exempted from heartbreak, how a poet heals, and how he teaches us to say a proper goodbye as he manifests a positive life with the Songs of Repair.
Taofeek Ayeyemi – Dust and Rust
Ayeyemi, with this collection, is the first African poet to give us the Haibun form of poetry. This form originated in Japan, a combination of short prose and another form of poetry called haiku. . In a literary conversation I had with the author about this form, he said, “Hai” is haiku, while “bun” is prose; implying haiku plus prose. This journaling style was started by the Master of Haiku, Matsuo Basho. And his first Haibun was titled Oku No Osomichi, meaning “The Narrow Road to the Interior.” Even though this is an Asian form of poetry, I have Ayeyemi to thank for making it so African. The messages in the book are relatable and very easy to digest. This poetry collection will give you childhood nostalgia as an African, especially a Nigerian. Family and love are important topics in our society. The poet skilfully shows these concepts through his traditional eyes.
Rasaq Malik – The Other Names of Grief
Published by Konya Shamsrumi, in the pages that made this chapbook, Rasaq Malik continues to document the chaos and aches that permeate some places worldwide: Syria, Missouri, Gaza, Pakistan and most especially some places in Nigeria—his country. This book of poetry opens up the waste unattended to in some parts of the world and affected people who may not make it to the news. The poet grieves, and tells us how to grieve with him and his displaced and dead characters. He makes us realise the importance of grief in a world ravaged by losses. I’ve perused through the lines in this book many times, and I don’t think I’m stopping anytime soon. It does something indescribable to me anytime I pick it up to read. If you are looking for a poetry collection that heightens and put your humanity in check with mentally rational and translucent language, The Other Names of Grief is for you.
Saddiq Dzukogi- Your Crib, My Qibla
This staggering collection of poems bears the confluence of grief and wishes. Sadiq’s voice is unique. A truly brilliant poetry book. The poet doesn’t mind being vulnerable. He flashes his world in his readers’ faces and grieves his daughter, Baha, in the most memorable way possible. How does a poet immortalise his loved ones if not through words dropping like a jewel from his mouth and pages of a book? What’s greater than the sorrow that befalls a parent watching their daughter’s soul escape into heaven?
I tried to review this book, but the words failed me. I tried to interview this poet, but courage failed me, for how do you approach a grief-stricken poet on his personal losses? So I continue to savour his experiences. pain, grief and wishes through this collection that makes me more human and sensitive and teaches how genuine a parent’s love is when a child is involved. Suggesting this full-length collection is a conundrum for me. Nevertheless, it’s an important offering. No wonder it’s gone on to be shortlisted for Julie Suk Award finalist, The Nigeria Prize for Literature, the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry shortlist in the United States, and was once named among the 29 best poetry collections by Oprah Daily.