By John Chukwuma
In her collection of poems titled, “Whispers of Rainbow”, African arts writer and environmentalist, Itunu Oluwaseun Faseeyin, explores the aesthetic values of a well-nurtured socio-cultural environment with emphasis on topical issues such as climate change and marriage.
The collection, “Whispers of Rainbow”, features 21 poems that celebrate Africa’s rich cultural and natural resources while exploring a wide-range of subject matters revolving around traditional and cultural practices. Poems contained in the 40-page anthology include Our Father, Finding a Bride, I’ll Marry You, The Mango Tree with a Mouth, Rainfall, Count the Stars, Tell the Gods, Africa, My Africa, Wrappers, Throw the First Stone, Her Mother’s Eyes, and Tales of the Moon.
With a barrage of emblematic titles such as Count the Stars, The Sunset, Tales of the Moon, and Rainfall, the poet portrays the theme of love for nature and decries human activities that bring about environmental degradation. Moreover, she ingeniously synergizes the beauty of nature with thematic concerns celebrating her rich cultural heritage as mirrored in poems such as Africa, My Africa, Finding a Bride, Ulouma, I Do Not Like a Lawyer, and Tell the Gods.
The language of Itunu’s poems is relatively simple, but a measure of complexity arises from her unique style of infusing vernacular and metaphorical expressions into some of the lines as exemplified in the poem, I’ll Marry You: “I’ll take 500 whips/at my back/I’ll wrestle with/“A’dumu” the alligator/I’ll get chased by cheetahs/I’ll swim in the rivers/Infested by mermaids/I’ll walk naked/into the dark forest/Tell your father/I will do anything to marry you”.
Itunu’s “Whispers of Rainbow” predominantly features a blend of lyrical and narrative poems that are laden with moral lessons and presented as traditional folklores. The pedagogical content of poems like The Mango Tree with a Mouth and Tales of the Moon qualify them as didactic poems that all categories of readers will find very educative.
While some of the poems explicitly focus on either culture or nature-related themes, others incorporate both phenomena as instantiated in Tales of the Moon, which depicts life in a typical traditional society as expressed in the excerpted lines: “I take a good look at the full moon/All I see are the pages of the stories/My mother told us/On nights like this/Our bodies would build/A circular wall round my mother/Our ears would stand firm/As she told us tales/Some of glee/Some of life/And some of death/ Before sending us to bed/She would remind us to/Say our prayers, lest the/Eye of the moon/Suck us into a bad dream…”
Itunu’s talent and her ability to weave words together will indeed take her to places. I recommend Whispers of Rainbow to all lovers of fine, lyrical poetry.