Jim Pressman, Freelance [Abuja]
I strolled quietly into the unveiling ceremony Friday 27 September 2013 at the Conference Hall of the Savannah Suites Hotel and Resort in Area 3, Abuja, just as the book reviewer, Prof. Gbenga Ibileye of the Federal University of Technology, Lokoja in Kogi State was winding up his lengthy but illuminating review of boyish-looking [never mind the stylish goatee] Kukogho Iruesi Samson’s collection of poetry entitled What Can Words Do?
The Daily Trust newspaper reporter in charge of Social Media is a compulsive Blogger who daily posts his poetry online, despite his hectic schedule as a staffer of Media Trust, with their stringent work ethics. In his 61 poems spread over 84 pages the ‘social poet’ (as his friends nicknamed him) weaves a tale in where, in , in his own words:
Cold ovens bake bread,
Earth fights itself,
Tongues fool thumbs,
Men chew seeds of discord,
They forget how to live.
There, a poet finds himself,
Facing death with tears,
He looks love in the eyes
…and finds God.
The poetry of this winner of the Orange Crush 1st Prize for Poetry [Where is the breath of Fresh Air? 2012] treats subjects as wide as marriage and divorce (Wedded and Weeded, p.10; Beggar Without a Choice? pp 11-12), politics and governance (The Voter, p.29 – vintage poverty-induced voter apathy!), religion and salvation (The Wayward Goat, p78) and politics (The Voter, p.29) among others. Despite his acerbic barbs at the status quo, and the gory imagery with which he depicts all that (e.g. ‘circus Gorilla’, p.29) Samson leaves us with a ray of hope and optimism, as the reviewer rightly noted with the “smell of barbecue on fire” which leaves our nostrils [and palates] expectant of an impending taste of good governance and life more abundant than the current ‘lean years of the locusts.’
By the poet’s own confession and as again rightly observed by the discerning reviewer, practically all the poems contain undertones of the autobiographical but he endeavours to make them applicable at the societal levels for universality. Even his dedication is deep poetry with a tale all of its own:
who always is
Who never was
… and God
Who saw it all.
Who are the most impacting influences on his writing, he is asked in the brief interactive session following the rather interesting Bazaar-like attempt to sell off five copies of the new collection by the creative Master of Ceremonies (MC), a friend of the poet. Samson says he read and still reads W B Yeats and Shakespeare as well as Thomas Hardy, who alongside Nigeria’s Professor Festus Iyayi, influence his prosaic productions.
The very essence of Samson the poet is captured most eloquently by poet, teacher and promoter of African poetry, Ms. Brigitte Poisson, plying around the collection title [Blurb of the book]:
“What can Words Do? Everything that a compelling compilation of poems can do. With his generous and emotional words, K. I. Samson opens the reader’s mind to the challenges he will not evade: his rage when facing oppression, family and environmental concerns, social injustice, violence and war, the torments of love… His collection of poems rings like a poet’s progress through life, until he reaches the ultimate climax of his spiritual quest. It is sharp, forceful and literate. Simply riveting.”
Niger Delta-son (born in Aiyetoro Ile-Ife 1984, began writing poetry 2001) Samson also possesses an incredible knowledge and mastery of the Yoruba language and its proverbs, tongue-twisters, Ijala and Ifa incantations, etc… (also uses a few other Nigerian languages!) and we surely are yet to hear the last of him. With the honing of literary creativity available in Abuja (AWF, ALS, ANA and many more), it is Morning Yet on Creation Day for the many Samsons springing up in the FCT.
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