THE ANATOMY OF A BARD’S VOICE: A REVIEW
Title: Daybreak and Other Poems
Author: Dami Ajayi
Publisher: Saraba Magazine
Reading Daybreak, I remembered one of those sunny afternoons listening to Dami Ajayi at a monthly seminar organised by Prof. Gbemisola Adeoti held at Pit Theatre, Ife. I understood his discovery of talent beyond literalism; his deviation into the world of creativity exudes fizzy brilliance. I am prefaced with the thought that Dami Ajayi is one of the medics who seeks wedlock between the clinical and the literary. This is obvious in the clinical rawness of his language. His linguistic adventures sometimes crave understanding. But most importantly, it augments my tactile memories of what sexuality prescribes, reading through Daybreak and Other Poems. There is the Damisque soloist voice: the rarity of his penmanship is a way of asserting himself before the legion of contemporary poets of his time. The percentile of blurbs written on the chapbook shows the strength of his verse.
I can hardly quantify the eccentricity of Farad’s author, Emmanuel Iduma, who drew a perimeter of his thoughts on the poet and the uniqueness of the “Daybreak” and its sister poems. The NLNG 2013 Literature Prize Winner, Tade Ipadeola, also offered a few words on the importance of these poems.
The break of the day is a trivial thing with universal exertions. In Iduma’s words: “It is like the dawn talking with the dusk because dusk knows what the dawn does not know about today.” The chapbook is not only loose on the birthing of thought and the dream or the pregnant night, but explores memories of romance and sensuality and sexuality as well. The poem, “Amaokpala East-side Motel”, Ajayi wings in on memories of a brothel’s clientele. The poet manages a clinical explanation around sexuality, giving us a statistical analysis with the encounter of sex in the society. The poem exfoliates the horror of keeping one’s urges daring you to slake it, to answer the habitual call of sexual urge when it calls. It is not a ploy to malign sex workers; no, it is a clarion call to see sexuality and its commercialization as acceptable. Sex now becomes a milestone in a nation’s economy. The body is the factory, the ‘repository of nether fluid’ (the machine), and the satisfaction of the production is consummated in the ‘warmth’. The production is not un-becoming but it is an end to means by the ‘Femme Fatale’:
When she comes in and lets her dress drop
You bask in the warmth of impending explosions
One more footnote in her history
One more mile in a long, long way.
Hence, in the intercourse itself, Dami melds humanity with the drop of the metaphor ‘explosion’; it is a way of lengthening her history coursing through humanity: ‘One more footnote in her history.’ Each man the ‘Femme Fatale’ meets/mates becomes part of her humanity, history, vice versa.
And “You’re my Flagellation” is for ‘those in touch with their feelings’. It is a call from the pulpit of love. Dami comes through with a clear voice to speak about the illusions created around love. The poet champions an effort to give contemporary feel to Freudian complexes and other anthems of love of yore.
Ajayi introduces modernity to love: the communication through social network, and the gadget itself, the love spreading through existence of cyberspace, feelings morphing into the virtual. The ‘crooners’, like everybody else, are victims, even the poet is not exempted:
I have started the poem baby, it is you and I
Holding hands, strolling into the sunset.
The ‘You’ itself is a pronominal choice of universalising Dami’s language and message.
“Daybreak” ushers us into another world of freshness. It is like the coming of a newborn. It ‘expunges’ our thoughts, buries old desires and anxieties. The poem is a metaphorical playlet refracting the dreadness of the night, and the hope of a new day; Dami checkmates the character of nature and feeds us with poetry. Not much of surprise, Dami posits in the first two lines with the grief that darkness, the ‘gloom’ of the night, has over the return of the day, regeneration: happiness. There is the reductive mechanism of the activities of these forces of nature put into drama:
Night said, “There is nothing more
Heartbreaking than watching a day break.”
“Home” is a projection of that nostalgic fraction, the magnetic memories of home throw us into distance, and you begin to hunger for it again. As ‘Ambition’ sends everybody across the other side of the river. Then, we have melange of definitions for home. Your home is not your home if you are not careful, where the presence of peace is lacking, and love and comfort absent themselves:
Sometimes home is a heartache
Unrepentant, in spite of geographical span.
“Lagos Bunnies” might have documented the poet’s experience. He might have fictionalised the Lagos experience of every first timer new to the city. And if one does not chart his/her way properly, you could be a “Johnny Just Drop”. As the last fragment of the poems, Dami makes the merger of Lagos experience and countenance, its handsomeness, ugliness, busy-ness, in “Lagos Bunnines” and slowly, Dami dances into sensuality again in “Slow Dancing” and registers for us what poetry means in “The Alphabet Laboratory”.
Olajide Micheal is a poet and regular contributor to LitCaf Supplement.