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REVIEW: IKWUEMESIBE’S ‘THE BIG MAN’ DOMESTICATES THEMES AND DICTION TO SUIT HIS READERS

Title: The Big Man
Author: F.O.C. Ikwuemesibe
Genre: Poetry
No. of Pages: 78
Publishers: Words Rhymes and Rhythm
Year of Publication: 2019
ISBN: 978-978-969-514-0
Reviewer: Eugene Yakubu

The Big Man contains poems that discuss issues of society, politics, identify, creativity and environment and virtually all categories of readers will appreciate it. The collection contains verses that will fit into a socialist realist art.

It might be lacking in romantic imageries but it has images that portray the poet’s contemporary society and has allusions that the reader will want to go looking out for in history and society.

This collection delivers in its spontaneity especially in poems like It is in my Head and The Big Man. The poet uses language without the strain of navigating the techniques and conventionality of poetry.

He is more interested in communicating with his readers than in creating standard rhythms and rhymes and turgid sentences. The poet is conscious of his sociopolitical setting and infusing here and then contemporary discourses on politics, society, environment, identity and even on his creative process. And this is interesting because you rarely find writers discussing their creative processes but the poet does in here.

He offers a canvass whereby other artists like him approach their creativity and handle the anxiety that creating art comes with. In the poem It’s Poetry, the discusses on the process of anxiety that comes with creativity. For him, he knows it is a poem when it keeps pricking him and struggling to come to life.

His diction befits his themes and leaves much to be desired on its creativity, but what do we expect of a socially conscious poem? With the sociopolitical and contemporary issues looming in his head, he has little or no time for turgid grammar.

The Big Man discusses historical and environmental issues. In The Creepers, the poet calls the world attention to handling natural disasters like the “Katrina”, the “Tsunami” who he aptly sees as “upsurge/ destruction more than Anthony/ On our world unleashed”. The intensity of the havoc that these natural disasters are wreaking on our environment is likened with an allusion to the deadly punch from the heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

The poet calls on us to take heed of Haiti’s ordeal to “get gritty/ Since ours may next poke”. In the poem Rubbish too we see an analytical appraisal of the effect that climate change and environmental degradation is wreaking on humans.

This collection will be a fitting framework or raw material for ecocritical literary studies and it will offer many annotations on the ecology in its dire stage of natural hazards and environmental disasters.


The collection does not pretend on the culture and customs of its setting. It stirs clear from the pretentiousness of contemporary African poetry and has images, symbols and even diction out of the poet’s culture. In fact, there are poems that are totally written in the poet’s mother tongue.

This feat is worthwhile for the poet is lending his voice to poets who uphold the African cultural heritage, language and tradition as an independent and reliable backdrop for creativity.

He adds local flavors to his poems and domesticates his themes and diction to suit his local readers by using totally new neologisms.

The poet’s metaphors are commendable. His spontaneity and creativity with words and ideas is noticeable in some of his poems.

In the poem Weeping, it is amazing how the poet uses the allusion to Lazarus in the Bible who resurrected from the dead to coin the word “Lazarussed”. In this poem he discusses on the definiteness of death and comments that no matter how much we want the dead to resurrect they’ll still remain “gone”. He says “You can yell, yell/ and yell to hell/ The Iroko can split” but one fact remains, the dead can never be “Lazarussed again”.

My qualms on this collection are that it has so many lines and words that would have done better out of the work and the incoherent sentence structures, but nonetheless, this is poetry and the poet must have had a good reason for constructing his poems this way.

Save for these, The Big Man is a collection that will do well in libraries and bookshelves. It has socially conscious and environmental themes that are related in creative ways.

Even though his diction and style are applaudable, the poems are more often than not surreal and evading categorization. The diction is promising and I guaranty that the poet can make subtler images and more elaborate metaphors if he directs his energy to his style over the ideas and themes.

Nonetheless, The Big Man has poems, interesting ones, which can hold the reader spellbound in its acute play-on-words and salient allusions and the poet will be a force to reckon with if he hangs around the poetic world for a little while.

It is recommended for its local flavor and elegant metaphors.

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.

Comment(1)

  1. Reply
    Yasa says

    This is so professional it cannot be faulted. Kudos to the reviewer, and more grace to the poet under review.

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