By Henri Akubuiro
Scars and Stitches, Olawale Oyetunji, Ruis Elz, UK, 202, pp. 31
Olawal Oyetunji works as a professional project manager and poet whose works have appeared in magazines and digital platforms inside and outside Nigeria. He is the author of On a Sail of Sorrow, A Piece of Art and Scarce and Stitches, the latter being the focus of this review.
Of course, poetry has been part of humanity since ancient times, from oral tradition to the scribe. It helps us understand and appreciate the world around us. It shines a spotlight on the world, revealing hidden truths. It builds the world, questions man and teaches us to lead a noble life.
Most poets write from their personal experiences and the world around them, born from a strong conviction to express their ideas to objectify their creative philosophy on life. Olawale Oyetunji’s collection of poetry, Of Scars and Stitches, enlists her among the aforementioned bards.
Dominated by personal lyrics, the poet, in this collection, sings of love and desires, fading relationships, memories, nature and hope. Written in free verse, the collection of poetry is sprinkled with allusions, symbols and stories, each poem being illustrated with a drawing that alludes to the character’s trials.
Heartbreak and disappointments are part of life, the poet says in the introit and opening poems, but the human spirit always perseveres to make love reign. Without love, life will be boring and full of hate. Thus, a lover becomes an object of enchantment towards which one must celebrate and attract. A lover’s words are a soothing balm in times of trouble.
Oyetunji deploys accessible diction in his poetry, swelling the tapestry of images you can identify with, such as the bed that “became thorns inserted into bear claws” in the poem “On a Sail of Sorrow”, which is equivalent to the discomfort caused by separation from a lover.
In “A Peace of Art”, creates a character whose love is for sale, making it difficult for the hungry, broke speaker to be accepted by the lady in question. The same dark mood is portrayed in “Missing” where the poet-lecturer speaks of the emptiness that accompanies the disappearance of a lover. “Separation” falls into the same category as above. Here, the pains of separation linger after the sudden death of such a promising relationship, leaving the voice to wallow in despair.
“The Grim Charmer” paints a picture of a better half given a bizarre ensemble. The speaker’s loss is not only in the loss of this woman, but in the fact that he also lost a precious stone, which could be a child.
The dark mood of this collection is momentarily lifted in “Mama”, a poem that is divorced from the concern of the femme fatale. In Mama, the mother is golden. She is like a mother hen with an undying love for her children. Her care is such that she gets up early before the sun rises and only sleeps late at night. The speaker states, “Tomorrow when I see mama/I’ll worship her with beautiful pearls/Call her mine and make her smile.” Similar to this poem is “I love you daddy”, where the voice reveres the father for his love and compassion. Although the father finds it hard to say “I love you”, the voice admits that he really shows that love from within, which is more important.
In “The Rider and His Lame Horse” and “Caged”, the poet shows an overabundance of imagery as he portrays desperate hope, while betrayal and unrequited love echo in “Movie Night”, as the speaker spots his lover with his best friend when she had earlier given the excuse, she was unwilling to be with him that night. The allusion, on the other hand, is deployed extensively in “Fishing” where a missed opportunity is juxtaposed with a fuaning fish in the water escaping its bait.
Scars and Stitches is an overflowing collection of lamentations and heartbroken stories. Although the distressed voice of the collection deserves better than its disappointing lover, there is a sense of resignation to the inevitability of endless love and a desire for reconciliation. Waiting is therefore the best option for him when the dreams refuse to fade. This message resonates with all disappointed lovers.