Every Woman is a Poem by Kayode Afolabi

Genre Poetry.

Blurb ‘Every Woman is a Poem is an authentic poetry book which portrays the identity and nuances of the African woman in her natural habitat. The chapbook reminds one of Shakespeare’s immortal Sonnet, ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ (written to mock Elizabethan poetic tradition) where women and love are presented as intangible phenomena installed (not on the face) but deep inside the heart of man.

The woman elements in this remarkable poetry book read like an account of a young writer whose knowledge of love and the fairer sex is striking, realistic and shocking. Love is likened to the ‘palm fronds shivering gracefully on the bank of the Mono River’, and colourful too ‘ as a voodoo feast in Southern Dahomey’. Lovers themselves walk hand in hand ‘nude’ cleaving unto each other and melting as one forever-‘like locked-up portmanteau’. . . The woman herself (‘more beautiful than sunset’) is ‘fine as frick- a creature to will all man’s world for.’

The poetic verbal variability in all the twenty-five poems is superb. All ingredients of creativity (allusions, personification, symbolism, similes, metaphors etc.) are employed by this gifted poet, to whet readers’ appetite and make Every Woman is a Poem a memorable and unforgettable collection.’

Themes Love, Heartbreak, Oppression of Women and Lust.

Editing A few errors.

What worked? This chapbook is a collection of 25 poems which as the title suggests, focuses on women. It includes pictures which break up the poems nicely. For even though this is a chapbook, it’s poetry which anyone who follows our blog knows isn’t our favourite genre. Although Kayode suggests in the book that the poems were written independently, there is an attempt to serialise the storytelling with the poems.

One thing which worked for us is that the poems have Nigerianisms which we could relate with. Like ‘whine’- [your waist], ‘jugs,’ ‘nylon’ and ‘17, 18, 19…’ However, this may affect the universal appeal of some of the poems.

Conversing with Kyenpya was the first poem in the collection which we understood from start to finish. It’s short and simple about a couple talking about getting married.

We liked In Zimuzo’s Head for the story it told and the rhyming. However, if we did not know the author’s sex, we would have figured out it was a man because a woman wouldn’t refer to her breasts as jugs and her bra as brassiere.

She’s a Conundrum is a favourite for the use of metaphors and wit. We actually laughed out loud at ‘I wuz ere.’ This looks like an attempt at a couplet but without the rhymes.

Rose is a Believer also worked as it was straightforward and relatable. We all have that one person we know who can’t seem to see anything wrong with their cheating/abusive partner.

We felt Tamuno’s pain in Tamuno. A well-narrated story about deception and betrayal. It’s interesting how poetry can convey in a few words what prose needs chapters to convey. The cultural reference is also a plus.

Jessica’s house I, Tongriyang Covers Up and Jessica’s house II,’ are about women making up for the lapses of the men in their homes. It highlights patriarchy and the effect on women.

The tribute to a grandmother in Abake’s dream and a mother in Mother were a nice touch to this collection. Overall, we enjoyed some of the poems in this collection but found others a bit difficult to understand.

What didn’t work? The main issue we had with this collection is that we could not get through some of the poems without wondering what a line meant or how a line fit into the poem. As examples, we were puzzled by the last two verses in Women Like Helen of Troy. We also couldn’t figure out what was onomatopoeia in Precious is poetry.

Kayode seemed to take a lot of liberties with the words used in the poems. For instance, using ‘pate’ to mean oral sex in In Zimuzo’s Room. Also, ‘conjugate’ in Honie-moon should have been ‘conjugal.’

Number of pages 42.

Publisher Self-Published.

Damage $3.11 on Amazon Kindle.

Rating 6.5/10.

Every Woman is a Poem is available on Amazon.

Many thanks, Kayode for sending us a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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