By Anote Ajeluorou
POETRY helps unleash powerful emotions. This is true of youthful Onyedikachi Dawn Agu in her first collection of poems, On the Crest of Passion (Eagle and Joy Educational Publications, Umuahia; 2011. Her poems mirror a mind constantly seeking an outlet to pour out feelings.
In these poems, Agu oscillates between a keen awareness of her surrounding and her desires to learn about the seemingly confusing world around her. So, sometimes, she shows deep insight; at other times, her naivety shows as she tries to grapple with the extremity that love and hate present to confront her youthful world.
But it is this stream of innocence running through the collection that makes it unique. ‘Dawn’s up’, the first poem, shows her awakening to a new world with its many surprises, of beauty, brightness and the possible ugliness that it can also harbour. Her middle name, Dawn, also shows her own awakening to life and its many possibilities. This is the essential stuff Agu’s poems are made of. Life holds so much beauty, so much wonder, so much pleasant surprises; yet, there is so much pain, so much badness, so atrocities and ugliness; humanity is appalled by it all.
She writes, Outside? Look for it/The brightest star/Inside? Out, look for it/Out! Out, look for it…/It’s a bright morning, which requires a bright smile…/ But when reality hits you,/You remember what an ugly world/We live in.
In this opening, just as in the other poems in the collection, many possibilities offer themselves for humanity. To get the best, Agu prods man, ‘Out, look for it…’ Humanity craves brightness, a bright smile as the bright morning beckons to Agu and all others, but in the heart of that brightness, ugliness rears its unsmiling face to mare everything. Humanity is therefore plunged into unrelenting darkness, which unleashes pain, suffering, betrayal of love, lovelessness, faithlessness, bitterness and negative emotions humanity never bargained for.
In this section tagged ‘Relationships’, Agu surfs through those happy emotions that man craves: happiness, love, goodness, and friendship. But because there is always a flip side to the coin of life, there is ‘Breakups’, where love is betrayed and oneness is banished.
And for those who have departed this plane of existence, Agu sings her elegies. There is a painful reminder that life is short, and there is a need to make the most of it while one can. She evokes pain, tears and agony at the loss of a loved one, as Agu sings, Tears filled my eyes/As I sat and cried;/God! Not again, not me/Another hope crashed into pieces/Big ideas and images gone with the wind… Colours of beauty turned grey/Expectation turned useless and hopeless.
And when the ever-present problems of life confront Agu, she writes in the section, ‘Challenge’, I’m on the edge of the world/So confused and don’t know/Where to turn to…
Other sections include ‘Philosophical’ and ‘Meditative’. Agu’s poems mirror slices of life as she ranges from one extreme of emotion to another. She is like a bird foraging for flowers in the wilds of life. Agu’s poems are written in a simple language; sometimes, they appear downright prosaic. But this does not remove from the inherent, innocent beauty in them. The range of her thoughts is also admirable.
One major flaw in the collection, however, is the explanatory notes and review questions provided after each poem. This should have come at the end of the book; it is a distraction and it hampers the flow of reading. Besides, the poems are explicit enough and could have done away with such needless distraction. Teenagers, children and adults alike will find pleasure in reading Agu’s On the Crest of Passion.