A doctor moonlighting as a versemaker delivers a debut collection of poetry.
It is one of the great philosophical debates: intuition or experience? Do humans get their knowledge from inside or outside, from the heart or from the world? Certainly there are few vocations so experiential as that of the physician, whose success depends on keen observation. So it is perhaps a surprise—though a welcome one—to see a doctor write with such passion about the power of intuition and inspiration. Ndikum is just such a doctor, and in his hefty collection, he returns again and again to the power of the muse that rises up inside him, compelling him to write: “Intuition is the fount / From which my poems flow.” Elsewhere, he notes that it is this mysterious force that drives the writer to find the dearest treasures: “What vistas does intuition scan, / How does it, literary jewels find? / What starry regions does it quest, / To quell young writers’ unrest?” Though he has medical training, Ndikum is an able poet, and he writes well both in structured forms and in free verse. He can build rhyming quatrains with care and wit, as in “Naivety’s Child”: “How naive this young squire has been: / What transpired, he should have seen / In advance, and prevented with intellect - / Aye, he shall more wisely now select.” And he can let his verse flow more freely, as he does in a gem buried deep in the book, “Think On These Things”: “You speak of freedom; / How-so, my friend, / When you were in chains, born? / Yet for a lifetime / Many o’er sup fine wine / Then on their deathbed, the whole world scorn.” His book is structured like a trip to the underworld, like a Dantean quest. The four chapters are “Initiation,” “Despair,” “Hope!,” and “Light,” and the author varies his tone accordingly. Perhaps because Ndikum takes readers through the darkness, the paeans that come later—like “Ambrosia”—are both satisfying and well-earned: “My Life be like the spider’s web / Entwined in rhapsody. / Soaked in Heaven’s sweet liquor / That upon it glides, and makes it gleam.”
Poems from a physician that glide and gleam.