By Damiete Braide
It was an evening of poetry performances during the launch of Iquo DianaAbasi’s poetry album, Beyond the Staccato, recently, at Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Solutionist and Ibraham performed different poems from the album, while Onyi Sax played the saxophone, to the delight of the audience.
Writer and performance poet, Iquo, performed an Ibibio folklore song, and the audience joined her to sing the chorus.
Dagga Tolar, a poet and social commentator, moderated a session on poetry. Habeeb Ajijola, a spoken word poet and economist, and Brenda Nwafor, a poet and designer, spoke elaborately about the album.
Dagga Tolar noted: “We are here to extend the frontiers of the possibility of the work. We should support this work so that we can reproduce them further.”
Habeeb said: “When I listened to some of the poems in the album, the things that were clearly visible from the onset were from the work itself. You can easily see who the poet is, and, when you go through the body of work, the elements that stand out, which you can readily see, like love, freedom, woman.
“There are things that, when you look at them, they not only talk about a body of work, those things in itself for those who don’t know the poet and even for those who know the poet. It is obvious that the body of work itself is an embodiment of the poet herself.
“More-or-less, Iquo has put herself into an audio format and allowed us see into herself, her beliefs, ideology, and understand how life should be.”
He said the album also painted the picture of the average Nigerian as a resilient person: “Regardless of where they find themselves, they choose to write their own story in their own way.
He asserted: “This is also the kind of mindset that the poem has put us through which is the most important aspect of the work. It also speaks to what kind of person we should aspire to be. Art has played a whole lot of roles in revolutionising nations and individuals. This might not revolutionise Nigeria as a country, but it will plant a seed inside our minds as individuals that we shall start seeing things differently
Talking about another poem, entitled “Crumbs”, Brenda said “the poem spurs people to ask not just for more than we desire but that thing that belongs to us. This is what the crumb prompts us to do. It is a demand that we should collect what is due to us as individuals and not crumbs.
She added that each poem, at their different level, “makes us question where we stand or down to be stoic and do what is required of us to do.”
Dagga Tolar said “it is love that allows you to be able to sacrifice yourself, and we live in a country where every single second, you take away from doing something outside for yourself; you are sentencing yourself to death. This is a kind of love that the poet speaks of in defining who the poet is. More particularly, the poet is human. The poet not just brings her person in totality but the entirety of a larger percentage of the human species on planet earth. The large portion of that species that must continue to struggle and recognise a woman that they are human in every letter of the word woman.”
Kayode Aderinokun, a Guest, remarked: ” I am highly honoured, because, today, is a special day. It is not quite often that you find writers who can sing well, and it’s not rare to find people who can sing very well and write very well. However much you try to subdue talents, it will always surface.
“Iquo DianaAbasi is a committed artist. She is very consistent in one form of artistry or the other. While some of us are not activists like Dagga Tolar, who is a strong activist and he has propelled us forward, I want to salute all those who give their all to the promotion of the arts in the country.”
Iquo DianaAbasi, in response, told the audience that “Beyond the Staccato is my debut audio poetry project, which explores national issues, girl child subjugation, environmental despoliation and love.
“The album is a lush mix of evocative singing, contemplative, gripping melodies and sonorous folklore – all used as perfect vehicles for unforgettable poetry. This album bemoans many negative situations, yet shows that beyond the staccato of herder crisis, EndSARS, insurgency, and more, Nigerians as a people are shaken but not broken. In this offering, as a poet, I am a victim and survivor. Through tough questions and unmistakable anecdotes, the album dares the listener to introspect, empathise and take steps towards better choices.”
The poet said her fans should expect a poetry collection and more readings and performances from her. Iquo DianaAbasi is the author of Symphony of Becoming, her first poetry collection which was shortlisted for the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature, the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize and the Soyinka Prize for Literature. She is also the author of the widely acclaimed fiction collection, Efo Riro and Other Stories.