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These days, I am entertained by the impoliteness of people, especially youth who are tired of systems, cultures, and norms that are failing and yet staying. In the midst of all this, Emanuel Faith proves that he is one of those appealing voices. In his most recent offering, Lagos Doesn’t Sleep, he shines through as one of those who still observing and appraising.

Emmanuel’s poetry appeals to the Nigerian in me. This is because there is an underlying Nigerianness that intoxicates his words, affecting their tone and meaning. I feel his passion. This Nigerianness is very clear in most of the poems of Lagos Doesn’t Sleep. Take, for example, the poem titled Let Us Pray in which he writes:

We thank you for our nation Nigeria
For those who make our country proud
For Tiwa, Dike, Okonjo Iweala 
And others who sing our good songs aloud 
We ask that you send lightning and thunder 
To those who snatched our votes with lies 
May their household, sons, and daughters 
Be immersed in ruins and daily cries
(Page 29)

Emmanuel is a conscious poet. He touches issues like the misery of unemployment; gender injustices and how they add fuel to the fire burning his nation. On the topic of what is failing, the poem Of Melodies and Threonodies: On Mental Health (page 21) he describes the demeaning relationships of “CV starched by the sun’s scorching heat and shoes worn by a starved soul with holed soles and cringing crevices.”

Emmanuel’s is rich in the spice of storytelling; Lagos Doesn’t Sleep will entertain you if you love stories. His descriptive use of language engages the reader and, unlike many debut anthologies, he doesn’t make the reader suffer in the pursuit of meaning.

Another unique thing about Emmanuel is that he draws inspiration from what is familiar. As such, Lagos Doesn’t Sleep stands out as a testament to how literature remains the eyes of our current events and a concubine to history. He synonymizes notable productions like the Sex for Grades documentary. On this he writes:

Yesterday my sister lost her job because she wouldn’t  
get down with her MD, 
“Use what you have to get what you want or get out,” he'd muttered.
(Page 22)

He writes of Lagos, and what it has become synonymous for – “four am, the streets bubbling like no eyelids closed overnight.” And the five pm, when the inhabitants shed their professional façade ­“ladies swap heels for flat shoes.” In poems like Lagos Doesn’t Sleep, we see time as a rat cycle – how the day ending for one person becomes the beginning for another.

It is interesting to see that there are also love poems in the collection. They are original. In Goodbye, Emmanuel writes:

And you will learn 
Wriggling in sorrow 
That one of the hardest ways to love 
Is whispering a solemn goodbye.
(Page 34)

As a writer, I am pleased to see that, just like Emmanuel did in the poem above, we are redefining love in art, particularly poetry. I love that we are changing the enchantments of I’d die for you to I’d live for you and that the words still carry the meaning of love.

My conclusion after reading Emmanuel’s Lagos Doesn’t Sleep is that it is very good for writers, particularly poets who are still learning how they can make everyday life and current events their muse and canvas. I also recommend it for every lover of literary arts because it offers important observations, reflections and ponderings.

Author: Oyindamola Shoola

SHOOLA OYINDAMOLA was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. She is a published poet, a feminist, a mentor, a blogger and Co-founder and Resource manager of Sprinng Literary Movement. She loves to writes poems, essays and her non-classifiable opinions. She uses her writing skills with her feminist drive to discuss the gender injustices that need to be fixed. Her first collection of poems is titled “Heartbeat”. Her second, To Bee A Honey, was published in 2017.

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