A debut book of poems about romance, corruption, and war.
Udofia’s collection spans many subjects, from happiness to genocide. However, the Nigeria-based poet constantly pulls it together with a number of specific themes that he weaves throughout his work. From the Garden of Eden and man’s fall—among many other biblical motifs—to the vicious public spectacle of execution, Udofia treats both love and strife with an even hand. Indeed, he’s carefully curated his book to showcase the two concepts side by side. He also shows that there’s significant overlap between the two, as when he writes in the poem “Vigil”: “keep your ears close / to the treacherous ground / for banalities, vivisections, / and anticlockwise terror. // keep the vigil, darling, / but wake me up / when friendless footfalls break.” Although he addresses fraught subjects, including death, lost love, and countrywide massacres, Udofia’s narrators remain hopeful to the last. The poem “G,” for example, reads: “i can’t pray very much; / my faith is weak, / the patch-freak balance / of amputated dreams. / let’s hope and wait for tomorrow / like night guards / laying vigil for sunrise.” The poems vary in form, but they work together coherently as a collection. Even the selection of poetic portraits, apart from the Desires and Scaffolds sections that give the book its name, blend neatly into the collection as a whole. Readers sometimes get little context for the events that inspired some of the more grisly poems, but Udofia’s afterword indicates that he believes that part of the beauty of poetry is its openness to endless interpretation. Those interested in a comprehensive poetic guide to the human condition would do well to give this book a try.
A considered collection that looks at what it means to love, lose, and mourn not only a person, but a country.