A Sneak Review of Greatness – Sueddie V. Agema’s Poetry
Me and this old young man have come a long way.
I met him in 2008 or so on a certain website; he and a handful of other young Nigerians restored my faith in Nigerian literature and encouraged me to tell my stories. He was the one who encouraged me to get on to WordPress – after I opened the account and refused to use it.
But; dear reader, I am here to critique Su’s work and not to praise him. More on that later.
In 2014 he released his second poetry collection; Home Equals Holes and i have a signed copy to prove it! In it is a very simple poem; a piece that easily won my heart amongst the many classics that filled the pages.
I choose to call the piece; ‘Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?’
I’m not going to post the poem here; just like I wouldn’t post a movie or music album I’m reviewing. To buy the book click here: buy Home Equals Holes.
I like that piece because it takes a well-known riddle/joke/culture meme and makes an interesting narrative of it. Check the opening lines:
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other…sigh
The riddle pulls laughter peals outside
of ours, now we cry foul.
Check the second line. Do you see what he did there?
The riddle asks; Why did the chicken cross the road?
The usual answer is; to get to the other side.
Su flips that; substituting ‘side’ for ‘sigh’; therefore setting the tone of the poem already; you know the chicken most likely does not end well with the sigh that greets the opening query. It’s also a double entedre; as ‘sigh’ also rhymes with ‘side’.
He could have just put it there for the sake of rhyming – but he took it further.
With interesting words and sweet language, he tells a tale of a character bemoaning the fate of his chicken. The chicken; up until the poem resided in the character’s kraal along with his tsombu (Tiv word meaning ‘kindred’). But that fateful day…
Su’s poetry is sparse but rich; and this particular piece is no exception. The lines barely rhyme but the flow; in itself is seductively hypnotizing as you find yourself following the terse narration closely, almost not wanting to blink as you wonder what happened to this curious, brave, adventurous and stupid fowl. Su weaves a tight spell that has you climbing kraal fences with barely-clad kids, chasing down phantom chickens while avoiding screaming vehicles driven by yelling and foaming madmen. At the end of this short but exhilarating journey, he has you seated; right beside the character asking yourself;
Why did this stupid chicken cross the road?
The delight I find in this almost-unconscious classic is the double-meaning of the poem. It’s literal; as a lot of poetry is, and it is also a metaphor. It could almost be a mother moaning the fate of a wayward child who thinks protection and care is a prison from which escape is necessary. It could be the government who keeps looking out; forgetting that true strength comes from within. It could be lovers; who leave the security and steadfastness of a committed relationship for cheap thrills and comes home; not dead but dying.
As I have said repeatedly; Su’eddie is a genius. You can find ANY of his works; Bring Our Caskets Home which I reviewed here a while ago; The Bottom of Another Tale, a short-story compilation that shows up in a number of my short stories, and my personal favorite – Home Equals Holes, and if you are not pleased with your purchase I will pay you double what you paid for it – and you can do with it as you like. I do not say that lightly.
I assure you, it is money and time very wisely spent.
As said earlier; I am here to critique Su’ and not praise him. It would be; however, absolutely remiss of me not to mention how nice a guy he is. His charming demeanor only enhances his looks which; as you can see for yourself, are quite something.
Su blogs at sueddie.wordpress.com and tweets as @sueddieagema.
Encourage him. Support him.