By Ola Olatunde
Oloyede Michael Taiwo, in this 91-page poetry book titled “Lagos Me Kills”, published by The Roaring Lion Newcastle in 2020, brings together the breadth of the human experience of love, life and death in his first collection of poems.
The images that fall from the collection are both astonishing and uplifting, as they explore the futility of a lover’s crushed ego in “Convalescence”, examine a nation weighed down by corruption, poverty, dirty politics and violence in “Moribund Restaurant”, or – as in “Love’s Soothing Web” – immerse yourself in the intoxicating power of love.
One of the poems, “Tell the White Man,” exposes the total exploitation of black nations by the West in the name of development and altruism. In “If I Had Wings Like a Dove,” Taiwo cautions the common man to use his vote wisely. He writes: “If I had wings like a dove, / I would perch on the roof of your conscience and / remind you not to sell your vote. / Otherwise, the mumbling lips of the next generation / would submit that bondage was a fine. ornament on / the crooked neck of your soul. “Uneasy Calm” is a painful meditation on life.
Such a sincere collection about love, life’s hardships and very important social issues! Oloyede Michael Taiwo puts his thoughts into extraordinary lyrics, “dressing” such heartbreaking and inspiring emotions in beautiful and deeply descriptive words.
With themes that both disturb and appease the reader, the variety of poems has something for every poetry lover. From poems about heartbreak and love to cries against all manner of oppression, reading this collection is truly an emotional ride.
The poems that the reader would find most influential and touching are those that speak courageously of the hardships in Nigeria and those that embrace African culture. Those who discuss white privilege and Western exploitation, and those who report the violation of human rights and the danger of SARS, are not only incredibly powerful, but also educational. There are also quite a few feminist gems that the reader would greatly appreciate and cherish.
Dedicated to George Floyd, “I Can’t Breathe” brings the horrific episode to life, while “Dust Arise” explores what it means to truly love.
Taiwo is experimenting with form and syntax. It covers a wide range of topics, from love, loss, hope, heartbreak to tyranny, freedom and black pride, among others, taking the reader on a journey of mystery and longing, and capturing at the same time the essence of the Nigerian people and culture: “the rear of Africa can never be put down / Like dust we rise up and give sand to our hope. “
Large and poignant, it is a winning collection.
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