Owerri, the capital of Imo State is in for a great cultural calendar. It is the birth of a new poet and writer. And he comes full of power and promise. As youthful as he is packed with dreams, Chima Ujunwa Ihebuzor, has followed up in the footsteps of the masters. He has put together a collection that will endure as the seasons. That’s my prediction.
Reading through his new book, The Power of Dreams: A Century of Poems, one feels the power of an emerging major poet. Published by Eagleman Books, The Power of Dreams, is a ‘’book of records’’ in poetic forms. The author puts to record his reflections, recollections and encounters with life in a language that is fresh, velvety and imaginative. He writes with the quiet lyricism that reminds one of the Lebanese-American poet, Kahlil Gibran.
What makes the collection interesting, almost in the tradition of Gibran again, is its underpinning philosophy. Ihebuzor apparently has come to knowledge as all great poets must, that poetry is as much words as it is payload. Lyricism has always remained a delivery system, and the enabling philosophy is the payload. Achieving a high point in both is what makes for a master. And reading Ihebuzor confirms he has a grasp of that mandate that distinguishes great writing from the rest. Thus, what one encounters is not just a poet of record, but also a visionary, speculating in philosophic terms, about the fundamental issues of existence. For instance,
In Sensation he writes: ‘’One loss is nothing//Two is barely worth a mention/Five might draw several more ears/Fifteen causes uproar/A thousand is a celebration for vultures.’’
Beyond the musicality and flow of words, there is the frightening retort implying that numbers don’t count till they hit the threshold. Thus the warning ‘’A thousand is a celebration for vulture.’’
And he deploys a style that comes fresh. He tags each poem with a line of summary/footnote. For ‘’Sensation’’ he warns: Do not sensationalize tragedy.
In yet another, ‘’The Lion and the Flea,’’ the same philosophical drive reigns:
‘’It should be strange that something so small/Could terrorize something so large/That the cat called king of the jungle could fear/A little bug of mild discomfort/A roar that makes an antelope’s blood curl/Becomes a silly whine/The beast the jungle revered/Tormented by a mere spot/Who could have thought?’’ for this the tag line is: David trumps Goliath.
But life is not all philosophy. Poets are not spared of the many sorrows of our humanity or our mortality. However, as records show the poets have a greater knack for immortalizing personal sorrows as universal inspirations.
Of course, many have had to bury their mothers. But it is only the poets who embalm their dead loved ones, the far removed, as Christopher Okigbo calls them, in the most beautiful, most imperishable monuments. As Shakespeare reminded us, even beautiful marble monuments will come tumbling down, but not the inspired words of poets. Great poetry like the pyramids will defeat time.
Ihebuzor, in one of the most moving pieces of the collections recollects the death of his mother. The poem, ‘’A Tribute to My Mother – Nnenna Ihebuzor’’ closes the collection.
Movingly, he writes: It is with no small amount of heaviness that we know you must be released/For as much as we wish to keep those we lose/We must embrace that they are not always for us to keep. …. So with this said, we let go of you and into the arms of our dear Lord/’Til we are united again in eternity/Farewell mother.’’
The book will be publicly presented at Imo State Trade and Investment Centre [Ahiajioku], Concorde Avenue, New Owerri, Imo State. Date: Friday 1st November 2019. Time: 10am. Expected at the occasion are the big names of high culture and national development. Led by His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Executive Governor of Imo State, it will be chaired by Paschal G. Dozie, Chairman, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos. Visionary entrepreneur, Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi, Executive Chairman, Nestoil Limited, will be the Chief Presenter. Renowned scholar professor Onyebuchi Ile, of Nile University Abuja will be the official reviewer of the book.