Combining the oral literary form with the sophisticated style bestowed on the world by the ancient Greek poets, Mr Agema has described for us a lyrical universe in BRING OUR CASKET HOME. The collection is so enjoyable that I went through the over sixty poems in about three hours. The poet deploys all the usual poetic devices to good effect even as he constantly unfolds a menacing world where evil is the ‘unchangeable’ and yearning the burden of mortality which is after all nothing but a mere casket.
The poet does not renounce the world like a grieving Arthur Schopenhauer, but like that majestic German thinker he sees the possibility of
some consolation in the endeavour of loving. Superb poems like Down Pathos’ Path, Concealed Mysteries, Bring Our Casket Home (the greatest poem in the collection) and Journeys to After (possibly the most beautiful poem in the collection) invite us to wonder at what lies beyond life.
Like the Spanish poet Unamuno, Agema shudders at the thought that memory may be lost in the silence of eternity, when the physical casket of the body is abandoned by something in man that surpasses this casket. The relentless questioning of the poet with the subtle suggestiveness of the possibility of answers in the active living of life is often reminiscent of Langston Hughes.
In the poem Grave we find remote echoes of Hughes. ‘Where do our dreams go? In what transit/do they jump out leaving us?/Does the reality of now/ indeed our dreams drown?’ The collection is an ambitious one from a young man who has his finest years of productivity ahead of him. A number of the poems are world class, holding your attention from begining to end with the force of sublimity. Yet Agema does not sustain this sublimity in many of the poems, such that we often find very ordinary stanzas cohabiting with inspired stanzas. But then such inconsistency is a sign of growth. The poet is fond of using double exclamation mark, a wholly unnecessary linguistic rascality. Mr Agema, one exclamation mark will carry the whole weight of this sad world that you have admirably painted on the canvas of the poet’s soul. From here we believe you will go further and add several feet to the height you have now attained, when you offer the literary world a second collection.
Ada Agada is the author of the novel, The Anxious Life. He is also a philosopher, poet and critic. He is currently researching on a philosophical work that would leave a mark in the world. Ada is a leading voice and moderator of the online forum of the Benue ANA (Association of Nigerian Authors).
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