Affection & Other Accidents – A Poet’s Grief and Vulnerability watermarked in this collection of poems
Dami Ajayi’s latest release “Affection & Other Accidents” is his third volume of poems, after his first volume “Clinical Blues” and his second collection, “A Woman’s Body is a Country” which were released to great acclaim.
This new release reveals a poet at the peak of his literary powers. Like the title, “Affection & Other Accidents,” the first few pages which comprise the title poem chronicles a poet in grief. Mourning a love gone sour.
The first poem gives us a peak of what to expect in this fine collection of poems- a poet who is a master storyteller, showing the multiplicity of his talents:
The party wound down; the crowd thinned out. Then you delivered an intimate speech about us, about getting engaged, about your missing engagement ring, about your unfaltering devotion to me & our aisle-bound affection & somehow, somehow, I found myself again kinking one knee, asking for your hand in marriage again. We have been here before. Not once.
Our human experiences are universal, be it falling in love, heartbreaks, grief, and death in equal measure. The poet introduces us to the turmoil of love, as alluded in the above, giving love a chance, hoping the affection would be aisle bound.
You picked the best place to have an argument. A train coach heading from Berlin to Cologne. You picked the best time too. The quiet time before travelers eased into siesta. You picked the best topic. But a black man & a black woman with a white audience observing their heated conversation?
The paragraph shows how love lilies become agonies as we traumatise over partners who are not willing to die to self. Would this not become an effigy of a dying love? Of affection built on quick-sand, where dirty laundries are washed in the full glare of the world, as postulated by Tolu’ A. Akinyemi in his collection of poems—“Never Marry a Writer”.
“A writer is a laundry man-
He will wash your dirty laundry without a fuss”
Would the verses not be part of the beauty or perils of marrying a writer? Having a seat in a poet’s hall of fame or shame.
In the third poem, the poet does more prognosis of an affection hitting the rocks:
The Colony House Rules arrived in spurts. Do not leave the light bulbs on. Do not leave skid marks on the porcelain. Do not leave used plates in the kitchen sink. Do not play music too loud. Do not sit. Do not write at night.
While the above sounds comical, the nuance expressed by the poet are some encumbrances everyday people encounter in the name of love. The tragicomedy of a failing love, the bondage of being caught in the entrapment of love, maybe Dami is on a mission to rescue many who are caught in the web of a dying love.
The fourth poem lay bare how we can unravel quickly with frailties clear to the naked eye. How a wounded heart makes us susceptible to falling out of control and how disillusionment sets in when true love becomes a mirage, and we become a shadow.
And the last poem was an obsequy of a dying love. “You quickly walked back into your Colony House without waiting for the final trail of my disappearance.”
Is that not the end of dying affection, of flowery words flowing from lips that once dripped honey and hearts, where innuendos and sweet nothings were a vestige? Before the final trail of disappearance.
In the poem, “Aubade to my Greying”, the last stanza: If I were God,/I would do it differently./Grant those who pray for beards, breasts & buttocks/their dream bodies.
Maybe we have found a panacea for people going under the knife, to dream bodies and living happily ever after. A poetic god-
There are a lot of poems that form the accidents of our human existence, whether it’s in the poem “Funeral Dressings”, “A Requiem”, “Birthday Elegy” (For Pius Adesanmi), “How To Grieve in Time” and many others. Whether it’s the grief of an untimely passing, a tribute or an elegy, the grief pressed on these pages is truly heartfelt.
Affection & Other Accidents is an intricate collection of poems, and the Nigerian writer and psychiatrist, Dami Ajayi, cements his place in the top echelon of African Literature.