(A Review of like Butterflies Scattered About by Art Rascals)
AUTHOR: Umar Abubakar Sidi
Publisher: Masobe (2022)
Number of Pages: 96
Curation is one of the crucial skills of a collector, so, it’s no wonder that Like Butterflies Scattered About by Art Rascals opened with a poem of gathering. A Gathering of Spirits, of dreams and hallucinations — a ritual of logic and magic on the canvas of mind, initiation into a world of surrealism and abstraction. It’s like a documentary of artworks in poetry form.
The poem is robust with a plethora of elements — religion, art, and politics hold hands yet stand back against back. The artist is basically a distortionist, and the spiritual do not see the charm in his disorder.
do not accept ritual & magic
expressed in hallucinating forms
scattered on canvas
You would wonder what Sidi’s fascination with artworks is, why he would dedicate a whole book engaging paintings and other forms of art with his poetry. I may not have a direct answer, but I have also witnessed the miracle of the canvass inspiring literary magic — abstraction birthing new aesthetics! I have walked through the chaos that is the mind of Laolu Sebanjo and created a masterpiece of a poem.
The poems in this collection could be said to be a product of automatic writing. It shows a level of insanity — subconscious expressions; trance-like metaphors poured out in a hypnotic frenzy. Little wonder the poem, How to Write a Surrealist Novel, opens with the basic rule, Be madly insane.
According to the poet,
Your novel should be pointless
Without any ideological leaning; it should be chaotic
Like the scrawls of an energetic blind child playing in the sand
The author, in addition to his paraphysical tendencies, is witty and also skirts the erotic. Body or the Metaphysical Investigation of Desire is a personal favourite. This poem is a braid of the sensuous, the literary and the paratextual.
I go down the valley of Truth. I seek water. I find water. I find poets around the Valley of Truth savouring water
The woman’s body, here, is a landscape — the face is serene, the eyes take the persona on a boat ride through calm waters, the corridors of thighs, and the valley of Truth — the doorway of mystery!
The metaphysical is taken to another level in the poem, Andalusian Blues. One of the poet’s strengths is the force and boldness of his opening lines:
Body of light walks towards me
Unbuttoning her shirt
And the poet threads the needle of metaphor with a recklessness that yearns for the freedom of imagery. I imagine his mind, a mural of fluttering wings and singing lights and naked poets.
but tonight is not for metaphysics, tonight
is for veins and arteries
She gives me a kiss of death
We disappear; we float on a cloud of souls
We enter the cave of truth
We speak the forbidden language of poetry
I would say this book of poems is accessible only to poets armed with the scalpels of visual poetry. As the Forbidden Sahara Answering the Call of the Veiled Woman noted, the 30 literary pieces in this collection are not poems; they are treachery of images.
Author, What Do I Call My Love For Your Body?