A set of poems about love, loss, and European and African identity.
Ijere was raised in Eastern Nigeria before pursuing higher education in tourism, nursing, and other fields in Switzerland. She writes about the country where she grew up in the poem “Nigeria,” which addresses the pain of its political strife: “The masses are suffering / Our leaders smiling / This is the change we voted for / Fulani herdsmen brutalizing victims / Silence reigns.” Later, she revisits her undying appreciation of the African country’s beauty in “My Homeland”: “Despite all the pain and suffering here / I cannot forget my roots / My origin, my heritage / My homeland so loved and desired.” She writes less about Switzerland, but some of her most memorable stanzas are about the immigrant experience: “Oh my! What brought me here? / Aliens we are. Landing on a strange land.” Ijere also covers her religious beliefs, reworking the Lord’s Prayer in one poem, and weaving references to God into many others: “True love for God and for others turns the world around / For as we love we can’t hurt or be wicked to others / I choose to love God.” There’s a deep, personal sadness that permeates Ijere’s writing, addressing the loss of loved ones and love affairs that ended too soon. However, repetition dominates Ijere’s verses in phrases such as “I search for your sting / I search for your purity,” reoccurring across several poems. Some poems are based around a single word: “I met him / Was it true love? / Vulnerable / I fell in love / Was it true love? / Vulnerable.” At first, this effect is rhythmic and dynamic, but it grows predictable and stagnant over the course of the collection. Okoronkwo’s book design includes the author’s own photos, but it also includes stock images, which often feel random or garish; they undercut the subject matter’s emotional impact.
A sometimes-vibrant selection that needs sharper focus and better visuals.