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For the Love of Flight by Lola Shoneyin (Author)

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Women Liberation . . . what is that?

It’s just a figment of your imagination.

I was born free, not in chains

I sucked on the same breasts that suckled you

Why then do I need to be freed by you?

Why must I sit on your important-sounding committees and smile gratefully,

Content to be decorated with the shackles of your brand of freedom?

Thanks, but no thanks!

– By cedarreview [From my Anthology of Sheltered Poems]



For me, writing a literary response to a poetry collection is a fancy matter. The reason is simple. Every poem in an anthology has its own character and evokes a distinct set of emotions. The complexity of these undulating panorama of human feelings would prove difficult to capture in one breath.

More so, when it comes to Lola Shoneyi’s For the Love of Flight, I have a better scoop to share with you. Why waste time measuring meter and probing rhymes? Listen, I was in the privileged audience that heard Lola read and talk about her (then) brand new collection of poems, For the Love of Flight.

Hearing Lola that time at the AWF Guest Writers Session, I began to think, as always, how much good poetry is wasted in print, how much of the poet is lost in the publisher’s office, what disservice the pages do to the poems. As an art form, poetry finds a nexus in music and lore; in its earliest form it is believed to have been sung or recited. Written poetry often feels to me like light trapped in a sepia-stained prism.

As she read a few of her poems from the collection, including my favourite, For Kiitan, if it had not been so heart-wrenching, her fierce devotion as a mother, passion as a woman, fervour as a feminist, brazenness as a patriot, and cynicism as a seeker of Truth all rang out clearly. Ancient sentiments rose up within me. This is the real deal, I thought. None of that defensive, reactive ‘women are the victims’ nonsense you hear around. This is a woman sharing what it feels like to be a woman; how she perceives her world; what she sees when she looks out through those thick, lush lashes . . . just sharing.  This is the good stuff, the type that leaves your mind richer for reading it.

I came away from that meeting with three things. First, an impression of Lola Shoneyin as a woman who is comfortable in her feminineness and confident in her view of the world. Her insightful poetry celebrates every day in its uniqueness and experiential richness, for which she ought to be super proud. Second, I came away with a burden for the urgent need for Nigeria’s literati to explore the audio books option with particular regard to poetry. And third, a copy of For the Love of Flight, which I shall cherish for a long time because it is impressed with the poet’s touch and,  although she was less so as she penned them down, it is inscribed with the words “For (me) with warm wishes.”

There is a curiosity I observed with this collection. Most of the poems are rendered in the first person, even the teeny bit uncomfortable ones. How, for instance, can you feel easy about anyone reading Distance and thinking about you, Lola?


Written by cedarreviews

March 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

One Response

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  1. By the way, there are some free audio books (poetry too) available on the net, which you can download and listen to on your mp3 or Ipod. Just google!


    March 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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