Title: Echoes of the Mind… my book of standard poems
Author: Chuma Mmeka
Length: 56 pages
Publisher / Year: Adfinity Media Ltd. / 2015
Source: Challenge Bookshops
Why I Read It: I enjoyed reading his other poetry collection: The Broken Home
Date Read: 05/01/16
Reviewed by: Benita Brown (BB)
Echoes of the Mind is a book of poems by Chuma Mmeka. Like its editorial review says, the collection which is Chuma’s second revolves around themes of patriotism, friendship, satire, child protection, sadness and death.
The poetry is no doubt well written and activist in nature. This does not surprise me as Chuma is said to have been an activist and writer from child hood, and like he wrote in Live My Life: “I have lived a full forty years”. What does surprise me is his introduction of an almost questionable style of blending regular English with the pidgin as found in “The Free Minds”; and I didn’t stop to wonder if the interesting 55 stanza-long piece that speaks out against Female Genital Mutilation would not have been better off written as a short story.
I had read his first poetry book “The Broken Home” a couple of months back and must confess that I preferred the writer’s zeal and coordination in that collection, to the ‘free moral agent’ writing style he exhibited in this “Echoes of the Mind”.
That said there are several poems in the latter collection that are simply mind blowing. As a lover of good poetry myself, I found these poems to be quite edifying.
From the beginning, “We Are Not Equal” (with eight stanzas of three lines each), “Not Because I’m Gemini”:
“… I’m real, I’m always willing to explore;
I can bake, I organize events and I act.
I sing, I’m fit, I also play chess with tact;
Reality and my exposure made me more
Not an idealistic zodiac or worship bore.
Don’t bother with sentiments:
I’m tired of religion as well as astrology,
Both are pawns in this life’s dirty orgy.
I believe in myself and I do my stints,
But I never dwell on unrealistic glints.”
“Stop The Hard Knocks” (eight lines), and “Once Like A Pearl” (eight lines), even the later sonnet “No Perfect Marriage” all stand out as impressively inspirational, revolutionary and top-rateable. But they are quickly followed by “The Safe Child” which sounded more like a commercial for vulnerable children.
“Throes of Orphans” is another story that came in the form of a free verse. Very touching, it’s a story by two little African children recently orphaned probably as a result of HIV/AIDS; how they were banished and their home razed down to cleanse the land of their ‘witchcraft’. “Chu” and “Chi” were exploited even as they were out of school and living in the bush until the police picked them and insisted they bring their parents.
“My Gem” and “Keep My Heart” tended towards love, while “Hello Dear Friend” and “A Poem For Betty” brightly appreciates friendship; “Rich And Poor Justice” seemed to reveal an anger against the world’s ‘better offs’. In “When Will You Come To Me?” the writer expressed a passion that was almost scary. He wanted a thing so badly that he announced his readiness to go to desperate miles to get it:
“… Do I at this age remain a fool
Do I break the horn of a live bull?
Do I kick the tall and very fat sky
Or the very depths of hell pry?
…Tell me when and how to meet with you
Is it at the hour of the clouds of blue?
Or beyond the place of man’s rearing?
Tell me now! For I’m almost done caring.”
A most motivational aspect of this work of poetry would be the promotion of a necessary belief in a supreme being and a rekindled faith in oneself and attributes. “I Believe” and “Live My Life” fall into this category. Then there is the mystery embedded in “Higher Glory” and ”A Better Day”; and the heavy patriotism exposed in “Mama Nigeria”:
“… Oh Mama Nigeria! Wake up now, come forth and don’t shy way
Rise up from your sleepy slumber for there is no more time
Please act, for the threats are much and the odds are high
Do not drip another drop of blood for these heady children
Tell us all to behave! Or Mama, it’ll be wisdom to use your cane.”
And in “Have You Ever Dreamed?” Chuma Mmeka showed his love and aspirations for his fatherland:
“… Have you ever dreamed
Of a Nigeria where all is well;
Where the streets are cleaned
And everywhere is safe to dwell?
… Have you ever dreamed
Of a Nigeria where peace and unity is secure;
Where tribal sentiment discords are doomed,
And terrorism and militancy becomes obscure?”
I recommend the entire book to all lovers and collectors of great poetry. There is something interesting for every taste inside it.