Title: Words of Eros
Author: Kukogho Iruesiri Samson
Number of Pages: 60
Publishers: Words Rhymes & Rhythm
Year of Publication: 2017
Reviewer: Eugene Yakubu
What is peculiar to modern societies, in fact, is not that they consigned sex to a shadow existence, but that they dedicated themselves to speaking of it ad infinitum, while exploiting as the secret.
Michel Foucault (History of Sexuality, 35)
Words of Eros is an erotic collection of poetry that speaks volumes on sensuality and vigorously libidinous passions. Up at least till lately, it is noticeable that the exploration of romantic love or of sex as theme is remarkably shunned by conservative African writers. But even so, Kukogho dared to venture wholly, even though still in the deflected language of metaphors and faint symbolic phantoms, the theme of genitalia, amorous passions, and lustful pleasure in his poems.
The poet tactically conceals erotic symbols in language and in his style which only cultured readers with knowledge of psychological symbols and psychoanalytic reading can ever hope to unlock. Still yet, the amusing poems and rousing verses provide hints here and there that tend to assist the reader uncover the poems. Nonetheless, this is a technical and sophisticated creativity that is cognizant of literary figures and symbols and even psychological dictates to sublimate the explicit diction by referring to them in deflective terms and witty aphorism.
Sometimes, it is hard to believe the extent the poet painstakingly went to conceal the lustful images in the poems. He of course, is skillful with words and uses them uprightly to drive his point home.
In the poem The Hell of your Body, the poet personae calls on his mistress to “milk me with your lips…”; this might just be regular line for an offhand reader, however a cultured reader should be able to decipher, despite the poet’s commendable bid of intentional ambiguity and sophisticated metaphors that the poet referred to a fellatio— an oral sex to stimulate the penis.
The poet personae in the same poem also asked to be “emptied” inside his mistress; and judging by Freud’s theory of yonic (feminine) and Phallic (masculine) sexual symbols, we can denote that Freud graphically asserted that physical objects or acts that are concave in shape, such as lakes, tunnels, and cups, are assumed to be the female sexual symbol. While symbols that are convex, or whose length exceeds their diameter, such as trees, towers, and spires, are assumed to be male and or phallic and symbolic of the penis.
In this case, it isn’t farfetched to settle that the poet’s emptying “inside” could be possibly be his copulating inside his mistress, inside her “lake” which is based on Freud a yonic (feminine) sexual symbol. The second poem in the collection undergirds this sweeping assertion, in that the poet personae also referred to his phallus as a “spitting cobra” and the lady’s vagina as a “wet bush part”.
These symbols, which might have been unconsciously chosen by the poet goes to show that this poem must have been psychologically triggered and the poet might probably be in an elevated realm when he was scribbling.
As Coleridge explained “[creativity] dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate”, thus the poet most probably must have been guided by critical reasoning or ruled by creative- intuitive power of musing where he achieves insights and understanding that can only be represented to others that are less likely to have found them through his art.
It isn’t any coincidental that other poems in the collection are immersed in phallic and yonic sex symbols too. The “woodpecker’s pecker” in the poem Snakes and Woodpeckers denotes another of the male sexual symbol. The “pecker” is ordinarily shaped so its length exceeds its diameter; this is another symbol that the poet is burying in flowery diction and flamboyant style. “The hissing snake”, “sap spills” reflects other symbols too.
In The Pilgrim’s Progress, “my staff did part your red sea” is another of the many symbols the poet is toying with. A “staff” as the poet so consciously captured is symbolic of a phallic symbol because of its shape; same with the “red sea” which fittingly fits into Freud’s feminine sexual symbol.
This creative effort by the poet is applaudable for he has gone a step further to spontaneously use words and language directly from the subconscious mind.
The brief and compact poem Spaces is arranged in rhythmic patterns whose notes are musical and pleasing.
The aesthetic value that Words of Eros houses cannot be overestimated.
The language is poetical and figurative, the theme is well related and appraised, and the symbols and images are intriguing and captivating. This collection is sure to leave a mark in every ardent reader’s soul and every lover of good art.
This piece of work is a perfect ‘raw material’ for a psychoanalytic criticism, and it need to be dissected to uncover aspects that the author intentionally choose to expunge from the poems and even the aspects he unconsciously stated. For a wholesome psychoanalytic read, what the author says, what he refuses to say and what he intends saying are all given life to and set in motion to evaluate and make elaborate contention of the literary work; for with psychoanalysis “anything can mean something else”.
This is a renowned and magnificent feat by Kukogho who picked on stigmatized issues many writers would term abhorred and manage to creatively reformulate it, making popular the sub genre of Erotic literature in Africa and offering it as art too to be enjoyed by the society.
This rare effort, unlike any I have ever seen by any Nigerian poet signals a new dawn for Erotica which have been technically sidelined; but Kuhogho’s handiness with the topic shows that sexuality and sex as well are topics worthy of discussions and study and I am willing to wager that this collection will do as much good and even better than most traditional poems in Africa.
Author: Eugene Yakubu
Eugene Yakubu is a book critic, reviewer and storyteller. He loves art and nature; and spends his time reading beautiful novels and writing stories. He reviews Nigerian books for Authorpedia.