Book Review of “25 Atonements” from John Chinaka Onyeche (reviewed by Aondonengen Jacob Kwaghkule)

GRIEF IN CONTEMPORARY POETRY: AN AFTERMATH OF MALADMINISTRATION OF MOST 21ST CENTURY SOCIETIES; A GLANCE AT JOHN CHINAKA ONYECHE’S 25 ATONEMENTS.

BY: Kwaghkule Aondonengen Jacob.

25 Atonements is a forty paged poetry book penned by John Chinaka Onyeche. It is embedded with a lot of literal and figurative accurately engineered aesthetics. All the poems in the said collection are stylistically titled and numbered in Atonements from one to the twenty-fifth Atonement. Of a truth, all these poems are wow-stricken as well as mind-blowing considering the tone and the era in which they have been rendered.

Grief, according to English Dictionary means suffering, hardship. Grief is also defined as pain of mind arising from misfortune, significant personal loss, bereavement, misconduct of oneself or others, etc.; sorrow; sadness. Grief is the cause or instance of sorrow or pain; that which afflicts or distresses; trial.

In the poetry book, 25 Atonements, John China Onyeche has deliberately portrayed grief like sellers do display their wares in market squares_the picture of a girl captured in the early pages of the book speaks volumes_although, not minding the different view of the poet as seen in “Atonement Seven”. It is undoubtedly verifiable, that most 21st Century Societies, Nigeria inclusive, have failed their citizens just like the world always disappoints new born babies resulting into their cries immediately after being born.

Nigeria is one of the underdeveloped 21st Century societies_so to say. The level of maladministration in this country makes her to be termed an underdeveloped [if not undeveloped] nation till date. The question is how can a poet living in such a ruined society think straight other than being constantly interrupted by grief? With this, John Chinaka Onyeche has vindicated and bears no blames for having penning down grief in ‘poetrical’ lines.

Beginning from the interlude anchored by Tares Oburumu to the last Atonement, it can be inferred that this society has caused this grief  made visible in many poems of these poets today. For Tares openly says:  “I know of a happiness that doesn’t include me in its typical home. So I create one and rub it on my body. Does it smell? Am I the scent only my mirror understands?” No wonder, till date, Nigerians still seek homes on the shores of other societies…

One of the key amenities of life is shelter. This when it’s lacked, peace is lost and grief is activated. John Chinaka Onyeche has been /longing for a home in a home/ all this while. He captures this disillusionment in his second Atonement thus;

“When I stare into the face of yesterday
Home whispers hope to live on
But how else should I live
Atoning for yester-longings?” (Pg.14).

The question of homelessness in this society has promoted Onyeche to asking that /Where can be more home, than where the heart already lives, without leaving?/ In this poem, the author has succinctly explained what grief is, that:

“Grief, you’re a kin, bestriding the threshold
I know you, I know your story
—of a river holding a large whale
I know your story of a winter breeze
Scrubbing away light
You are a cloudy sky without rain
You are a shell without snail” (Pg.16).

The futility of many a citizen’s efforts in this Society is unfathomable. In different sectors, the Government of the people has kept denying being for the people. It contradicts what the poet has believed in. In his belief, it is biblically asserted that /“Ask and it shall be given,/Knock and the door shall be opened/For whosoever inquires shall find”/

Yet, here, a poet prays:

God save a poet atoning for the clouds
Gathering them from a blue sky with sun (Pg.21).

In a society filled with dysfunctional mayhems, a poet is left with nothing but his pen putting down pains to paper. It is evident as Onyeche puts; /My grief is clothed in the garb of rhetoric/(Pg.26). As /Words have galloped on our tongues/Pulling even the last pinch of steel/(Pg.32) and all that is made of this society is likened to;

A broken bucket
A broken water pot
A city of broken walls
A broken metaphor (Pg.31).

Indeed,  /This society has become a fire that burns me/[emphasis mine] and /I breathe here like a saltwater tide, coming in in the mornings and returning in the evenings/(Pg.34). Sadly, we only live to groan about /the wishes which dressed my good old days/(Pg.36).  For;

The stories told from a broken wall

Have held us bound a thousand times

If we don’t return to retell our tales of old

The days shall go by and not let us go on

Conclusively, it is what the society tells a poet to write he writes. John Chinaka Onyeche has done so. Poetry has therefore, been used here as a tool for exposng the cause of many a poet’s grief amidst this contemporary turmoil; the failure of the Government at all levels.

https://tinyurl.com/562pkrc4

Bio:

John Chinaka Onyeche “Rememberajc” (he/his) is an author of three poetry collections “Echoes Across The Atlantic”, a husband, father and poet from Nigeria. He writes from the city of Port Harcourt Rivers State, Nigeria. He is currently a student of History and Diplomatic Studies at Ignatius Ajuru University Of Education Port Harcourt Rivers State.

John Chinaka can be reached through the following means:

Rememberajc.wordpress.com

Facebook.com/jehovahisgood 

Twitter.com/apostlejohnchin

Apostlejohnchinaka@gmail.com

https://linktr.ee/Rememberajc

Poetry Showcase June 2022 for John Chinaka Onyeche “Rememberajc”

New poem “Journey of Love” by John Chinaka Onyeche

Poetry Focus on John Chinaka Onyeche (Rememberajc) 8 poems

Bio for Reviewer:

Kwaghkule, Aondonengen Jacob is popularly known by his pen name “Mr Kvip”. He’s an awarded Nigerian poet with multiple online and traditional publications.  A two time finalist for Pengician Chapbook Poetry Prize, 2021 and 2022, an Entrant for NSPP, 2021, and a Longlist, African Human Right Playwriting Prize, 2021. Kwaghkule Aondonengen Jacob bagged a B.A Honours in English and Literary Studies from the prestigious Federal University, Wukari, Nigeria, where he serves as the Poetry Editor for Insights. If he’s not writing, he’s admiring the beauty around him.

2 poems from Bojana Stojcic

Until I Come Up With the Right Words That Will Have All The Necessary Things They Require, but Nothing Extra

I’ll keep trying to find the ones to describe
what’s with the silence, and I’m sure there’s

a perfectly simple explanation why I lost them
so I reckon I’ll sit down, write an essay on

steps to finding your voice again
something easy to follow, however deep and

evocative, which will, in a way that is clear
and not difficult to understand, of course,

demonstrate that the key is to
not be afraid, grasp that handle and pull it

kind of shit, though there’s no use being
all ears when you don’t know a language,
 
is there, meaning I’ll probably resort to
a dictionary for everything that sounds

important, serious too, then forget what I’ve
read, just let my blood drip onto crumpled paper

unrestrained like waves that

beat
beat 
beat

the shore

or ask you—

doesn’t it scare you
when you use plain words like that


Out on the road is like on paper

Every time I think of leaving
I think of Jack pushing that old car
and all those
rivers, peaks and shores he never found
(like all the ones he ever did)

we’re born under the same stars
wash in the same puddles
die in the same dugouts

we find what works best for us by accident



BIO: Bojana Stojcic loves authentic voices, unfettered by norms and academic expectations. When writing herself, she enjoys experimenting with structure and style, which makes the road bumpier, though the journey more exciting and rewarding. You can read her in Eunoia Review, The Opiate, Burning House Press, Spelk and elsewhere.

Poetry inspired by Joni Mitchell from Diane Elayne Dees

For Joni

The canyons echo the coyote's mournful cry
of loneliness, for which there are no words,
yet suddenly, like graceful home-bound birds,
the words appear as written on the sky.
The painted ponies dip, then leap so high,
they startle us. In silver-bridled herds,
they bear us through the grand and the absurd;
at journey's end, we still do not know why.
And yet the music calls us to go on,
amid an often misty atmosphere
that tends to blur the darkness and the light.                                     
The melodies remain after we've gone,
as glorious reminders we were here,
though we are stardust scattered in the night.

Originally published in the anthology, Poeming Pigeon: Poems About Music 

BIO:

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books) The Last Time I Saw You (Finishing Line Press), and The Wild Parrots of Marigny (Querencia Press). Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

Women Who Serve

DIANE ELAYNE DEES: POET AND WRITER-AT-LARGE

Poetry from Doryn Herbst “Huskies”

Huskies

Double fur to pull them through
a snow desert. That snow in their eyes,
pools of moonstone and gold
arrowed against the cold.

Muscled team-players, a playful team,
best of friends, your best friend.
Six Siberians howling.

These loyal workers know how to pull.
They gather speed over drifts packing
down close, their weight harnessed
to glide in unison over ice-cold air, slide
over frigid rivers, leap past trees
like starch-white spectres

to carry your weight
to your destination. 




Bio for Doryn Herbst

Doryn Herbst, a former water industry scientist in Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues.

Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Fenland Poetry Journal, celestite poetry, Poems from the Heron Clan and more.

She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry.

Book Reviews by Spriha Kant: “These Random Acts of Wildness” by Paul Brookes

Review of Paul Brookes’s book “These Random Acts of Wildness” by “Spriha Kant”

This book consists of a collection of poetries. 

The poet in some poetries makes his readers travel in, around, and out of the different portions of the home including lawns, backyards, kitchen, etc., in some of which he shows glimpses of the chores and concludes the bitter truth of the world and/or one of the fundamental truths of existence that whatever is created is meant to be destroyed the one or the other day. Quoting the following few words and stanzas from a few such poetries:

“His toy won't 
  cut grass but safely glides over its length, 
  so he stamps and bawls when his world don't 
  conform to his straight lines, because it's bent. 

  My wife says “Better” to our short shorn lawn. 
  We all want the wild to be uniform.”

“Organic time tamed, all about decay 
  not growth. Imagine accurate time based 
  on a gradually emerging way. 
  However, all things reduce to waste. 

  Our Dandelion's blown clocks are seeds
  to be uprooted as unwanted weeds.”

“A wave that washes away proof 
 that any effort has taken place, stacks 
 temporarily, finds another use, 
 
 elsewhere that is not always clear, and might 
 be mistaken for anarchy, or loss 
 of control, not wise, sensible foresight, 
 briefly anthologises summer's floss. 
 
 Never enough time to read the new 
 collections before gust edits the view.”
In a few of his poems, the poet has described the cruel and violent behavior of birds and animals such as in the poetry “The Hedgehog,” the intense fighting sequences can be seen. However, a few words from the poetry “Inhale Dappled Sun” are influential to bring tears to a compassionate heart, as quoted below:

“Bigger birds to feed their young snatch 
  open beaked fluffy kids from nests”

The poet has mixed many different horrible flavors in his different poetries, such as the poem “Polishing Me” which has a blood-curdling hysterical flavor. Similarly, the acerbic flavor in the last stanza of the poem “I Put My Bins Out” can be felt, and many other different flavors are worth reading in this book. 
    
Both poets and poetesses sometimes do work like abstract painters by leaving their poetries to the interpretation of readers. The poet has done so in his poetry “My Vacuuming” by concealing many stygian truths beneath it. The comprehension of the quantity or quantities of stygian truth(s) and the stygian truth(s) comprehended varies from reader to reader. 

Apart from concealing stygian truths beneath the poetry, the poet has also directly pointed to the messes encompassing the world in his poetry “My Window Cleaning” and a few words he used in this poetry are very deep and hard-hitting and, in the end, he states the question whose answer is unknown to him that shall remain unknown to everyone forever. 

The title of this book “These Random Acts of Wildness” kept by the poet is apropos to the shades the poet has used to paint his poems and he just wants to see the wildness vanish from this world that he stated in a few poems. Quoting a few words from the poem “Ironing” depicting the efforts the poet makes to reduce the wildness of this world:

“My hard weight tames the uneven and wild, 
  makes it all proper, gentle, meek and mild.”

However, merely, a shade is not appealing to the eyes in any painting. So, to add beauty to this poetry book, the poet also added tints in a few poems. The next two stanzas unfurl a few tints the poet added to a few poems. The pan containing shades was meant to be heavier than the tints in the beam balance of the poetries in this book as the poet desires to see the world without wildness and hence constantly tries to reduce the wildness. 

Personification is usually used to make the readers visualize the beauty of nature in the poems but the poet in his poetry “In Washing Up” has beautifully used personification to add enthusiasm and to motivate the spirit of readers. 

As it has been stated in the few words from the preceding stanza that “Personification is usually used to make the readers visualize the beauty of nature in the poems” so is the case in the poetry “Wildlife Map” except that the beauty is about the interaction between the light and slug windows. 

The poet has shone a very few poems with a beauty whose intensity is high with the size of a tiny thermocol ball, quoting such few beauties from different poems below:

“Butterfly briefly stainglasses our window.”

“A specialist shop 
 had a bud float in my clear cup unfurled 
 before my eyes.”
 
The poet has used very easy words with brevity to express the message he wants to convey to his readers. The use of easy words with brevity being one of the peculiarities of this book makes it suitable to be easily understandable by even non-poetic minds. 

Bios (Spriha Kant and Paul Brookes):

Spriha Kant:

Spriha Kant is a poetess and a book reviewer.

Her poetry The Seashell was published online at Imaginary Land Stories for the first time.

The poetries of Spriha have been published in five anthologies till now:

Sing, Do The Birds of Spring

A Whisper Of Your Love

Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan

Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the mind

Hidden in Childhood

Spriha has done seven book reviews till now:

The Keeper of Aeons by Matthew MC Smith

Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow by Jeff Flesch

Washed Away: A Collection of Fragments by Shiksha Dheda

Spaces by Clive Gresswell

Silence From the Shadows by Stuart Matthews

Breathe by Helen Laycock

Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: Love Poems and Poetic Prose by Gabriela Marie Milton

Spriha has collaborated on the poetry The Doorsteps Series with David L O’ Nan.

Spriha has been a part of the two events celebrating the launches of the books till now:

Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow by Jeff Flesch

As FolkTaleTeller by Paul Brookes

Her poetic quote “An orphic wind storm blew away a sand dune that heaped all our love memories upon one another.” has been published as the epigraph in the book Magkasintahan Volume VI By Poets and Writers from the Philippines under Ukiyoto Publishing in the year 2022.

Spriha has been featured in the two interviews till now:

Quick-9 Interview on feversofthemind.com

#BrokenAsides with Spriha Kant on the brokenspine.co.uk

Spriha has been featured in Creative Achievements in 2022 on thewombwellrainbow.com.

The links to the features of Spriha Kant are:

Paul Brookes:

Paul Brookes is a shop asst. Lives in a cat house full of teddy bears. First play performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre, Hull. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Speernbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), As Folk onder (Afterworld Books, 2019). He is the editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews, book reviews, and challenges. Had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb and, videos of his Self Isolation sonnet sequence featured by Barnsley Museums and Hear My Voice Barnsley. He also does photography commissions. A poetry collaboration with artworker Jane Cornwell resulted in “Wonderland in Alice, plus other ways of seeing”, (JCStudio Press, 2021). Recent sonnet collections of his: “As Folktaleteller”, (ImpSpired, 2022), “These Random Acts of Wildness”, (Glass Head Press, 2023), and “Othernesses”, (JC Studio Press, 2023).

Twitter: @PaulDragonwolf1

WordPress: https://thewombwellrainbow.com/

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/PaulBrookesWriter/

Amazon: