In his debut book, written in prose and verse, Munonye looks inside the life of a struggling poet.
The story starts with a mix of tentative inspiration and a healthy dose of creative encouragement, but the ideas and plot points are vague. For example, after encouraging a budding poet—“In our present predicament, we must not be delayed. Rather, rest assured that the beauty we seek will all come one day, and your dream will be nourished by morning”—the story then shifts to a hospital room where the poet, Tony, wakes up after being “hit by love.” He’s suffering from a “psychosomatic” condition, but the narrative only briefly addresses what happened to him. As soon as he gets a chance, he’s writing again and defending his career choice to his family. The conversations with his family, friends, boss and even a mistress feel disjointed and unrealistic, explaining little and glazing over what inspires the poet to survive the challenges he faces. Despite an effort to lure in readers with engaging statements—“Look around and sense the exaltation and jubilation of your great love of art”)—the story neglects going into much detail, and the bursts of poetry between characters in conversation seem misplaced. The switch between verbose prose and poetry often snaps the reader out of a connection to characters and the story. Overall, the mashup of personal struggles, daily life, prose and poetry distracts from the inspiring story of a poet who remains true to himself and his talents. The fractured glimpses fall short of making an impact since the story skips like a stone across a lake, without making waves. More depth and direct language, at least in the prose, would create a better connection between the poet and reader. Nonetheless, bonus poetry at the end, which seems to be an unabashed profession of love for all things verse, is a highlight of the book.
Earnest and creative, but readers might not be pulled in enough to appreciate the story.