The poetic veil of a pacifist

  By Henry Akubuiro Leonard Ugwu first came into literary prominence in 2017 when he published Echoes of the Invisible. Four years later, he is back with another poetry volume, Echoes of Bullets, containing 61 poems and three sections —Dry Season, Rainy Season, and Harmattan, published by Kraft Book, Ibadan. The number “61” is significant […] The post The poetic veil of a pacifist appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

The poetic veil of a pacifist

 

By Henry Akubuiro

Leonard Ugwu first came into literary prominence in 2017 when he published Echoes of the Invisible. Four years later, he is back with another poetry volume, Echoes of Bullets, containing 61 poems and three sections —Dry Season, Rainy Season, and Harmattan, published by Kraft Book, Ibadan.

The number “61” is significant in this bardic excursion. Nigeria has been in existence as a nation for 61 odd years, and recently celebrated its 61st independence. 61 years after independence, how has the country fared? There is, of course, a mixed bag and, needless to say, an air of uncertainty and a deja vu of a lacrimal past.

Ugwu’s Echoes of Bullet is, thus, is an interventionist poetry volume by a young, committed bard, who, though didn’t experience the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70, is aware of the violence that greeted it and its lingering repercussions.

In this poetry collection, the poet re-examines the war theme, using dark and dank tropes while painting a darkening picture of a looming war with its fetid and dingy aftermath.

Echoes of Bullets speaks to humanity and, in particular, young Nigerians born after the Civil War. The poet depicts, floridly, the good and bad of war. He, however, doesn’t ignore the nagging issues that fuel discontent and warmongering, including inconsequential leadership, rising unemployment and insecurity, unbalanced national allocation of resources and mutual tribal hatred.

Ugwu reminds one of Okigbo’s path in “Path of Thunder ” with its cautious optimism and dissonant vibes addressed to those who have ears. The poet foresees the nation in turmoil and advocates for peace.

While the first part of the book contains 20 poems, the second and third parts contain 20 and 21 poems respectively. Ugwu, who has also compiled an anthology of peace for the World Union of Poets, comprising 30 poets from around the globe, assumes the role of a thinker-prophet in the latest collection.

The structure of his poetry volume follows a seasonal sequence. After a dry season, you get a rainy season. This symbolically captures the colours of woes associated with war. Though Harmattan is associated with the dry season, the poet opts to classify it as a separate season in part 3.

In the first part of the poetry (Dry Season), through the poet speakers, the underlying precursors of war, such as political failure, poverty, corruption, regional agitation, etcetera, are recreated. This despondency approximates to dryness in the poet’s universe, which, if unaddressed, is an open sesame to doom.

The transition of the poetry volume takes you to a rain of bullets with blood flowing freely. It’s a book that keeps you on the edge while, at the same time, invites you to reexamine the perils of war.

As the book winds up in the Harmattan section, the war is over and it’s time to sue for peace and rebuild the nation. Regrets over the mindless destruction are evident. The scars linger in many homes. There is a need for love. In Echoes of Bullets, Ugwu wears the toga of a town crier and a minstrel deconstructing war, its aftermath and the imperative of forestalling a recurrence in postcolonial Africa.

 

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