Treasures and Travails: An Anthology by Chuma Mbaeyi

Treasures and Travails: An Anthology

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Mbaeyi’s first collection of poems comments on love, conflict, and wild nature’s inspirational gifts.

Sections announce this book’s broad themes: Nature & Inspiration, Love & Romance, Conflict & Contradictions, Hope & Despondency. Sometimes a note appears at the bottom of a poem, indicating its more particular inspiration: “A poem in celebration of Easter and the resurrection of Christ,” or “For the victims of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria (events and characters are fictitious).” One of the more original conceptions is followed by another note: “In praise of Thomas Alva Edison and the invention of the light bulb.” Electric light inspires comparisons to inventive thinking: “A mind ignites, quelling the candle’s intemperance, / Distilling the stillness of the night into the glitz / Of dancing lights.” Amid the sexy “s” and “z” sibilance, the formality of “quelling” and “intemperance” seems slightly out of place. Used sparingly, such high diction holds power, but these poems frequently overflow with too much of a good thing. A line from “Recollections from The Future” offers another example of such overabundance: “Her glassy blue lenses spun like ripples into a lucid ocean holding a deluge of memories.” The poetry here is not about economy or concision. Partial relief comes from the intermittent plain-speak mixed in. For example, in a lighthearted but rather opaque poem that seems to blend the winter blues with classroom romance, the opening lines search for the ease of everyday lingo: “In the ‘heat’ of winter, I skipped into a taxi on a whim, whimpering: / ‘Jeeez—I’m freezing!’ ” Words about the transfer of a star basketball player match a newsworthy event with the fairly flat language of reportage: “Once a Nugget, now a Knick / It’s easier said than done, for / The drama between was one / Watched in gloom and glee // Depending on what color you / Wore.” Still, there’s plenty to admire in the author’s ambition.

A few high points but more focus would help.

Pub Date: May 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5035-6859-4
Page count: 58pp
Publisher: Xlibris
Program: Kirkus Indie
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