TITLE: AMARYLLIS: HOW CAN I GO ON?
AUTHOR: MARGARET SAMMY
NUMBER OF PAGES: 60
PUBLISHER: WORDS RHYMES & RHYTHM PUBLISHERS
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2017
REVIEWER: JOSEPH OMOTAYO
This poetry collection touches various issues of life.
With fifty one poems, Margaret Sammy isn’t short of thoughts on things. She talks about all and sundry. Amaryllis is a magnanimous collection. Nothing escapes it. You just think of anything, and Margaret Sammy’s Amaryllis has a poem for it.
This collection is a quiver of matters arising and those that are commonplace but very relevant.
Margaret Sammy’s Amaryllis is also about people and the many issues that occupy this young poet. Some lines taunt you with their stark simplicity. Margaret Sammy’s lines are innocent but not out of tune. In a manner one may hurriedly pass off as naïve, Amaryllis approaches complicated issues in a way that unknots them. While kids the poet’s age lose dreams to teen ranging hormones, Margaret Sammy uses hers to render poetic artistry.
In Amaryllis, there are moments when your knowledge of things could become pure ignorance.
Amaryllis talks about everyday things with an affective vigour. That was what drew me to the collection. In a manner that subtly and slowly engrosses the reader, Amaryllis arrays almost life’s issues.
With deft honestly, Amaryllis uses free verse to educate and entertain.
This poet explores the commonplace to show things everyday hustle and bustle does not make us see. There are poems based on abstract things like happiness, determination, leadership and also on people we often forget acknowledge: mother and father.
The collection begins with the importance of smile, something so ordinary and yet necessary:
“Smiles each day
My best costume
A simple smile lifts up one’s face
It’s free and neat
With no wrinkles and cracks.”
(Smile, pg. 8)
The next poem that follows is totally the opposite of what Smile is. In the eponymous How Can I Go On, the lines are troubled. There is a startling cry for help which is ignored. There are many reasons for this. One, it could be because people look down on the poet persona. On the other hand, it could be because they consider her strong enough even as she tears away inside:
“How can I go on?
When the world is chasing me
A race I might never win
My legs fail me
I need help not encouragement
Why won’t they listen to me?
I can’t run anymore
I am just a girl
I am out of breath
Can’t you hear me?…
I am human
Not a machine
Listen to me
I beg to be heard”
(How Can I Go On, pg. 9)
In Happiness, the essence of happiness is shown, how true happiness does not need a reason to be:
What is this feeling in me?
Don’t take it away
Could it be joy?
(Happiness, pg. 11)
Mother and Father are poems that celebrate those people. But when Mother comes before Father, the reader may be inclined to think the order shows the poet’s bias. In Love, the many ways the poet has got love are shown.
A Warrior’s Heartbeat is one of my picks in the collection. It is deep with a good use of precision, no word is wasted. Though these poems are standalones, without a necessary connection with any other poem in the collection, there however seems to be a connection between some of them. Leaders and Rulers is connected with Who Bells The Cat, If with If I Were Me, and How Can I Go On? with Set Out. Instances of so will be shown presently.
Questions and issues raised in How Can I Go On are resolved in Set Out. When How Can I Go On asks:
“I need help not encouragement
Why won’t they listen to me?”
Set Out answers with this:
“I asked for help but they didn’t listen
They thought I wouldn’t succeed
But see me now they are pleading
Asking me how did I make it
All I can say is GOD”
Who Bells The Cat seems to be a kind of continuation of Leaders and Rulers. There is a state of anarchy in both poems:
During tough times
Despair rules the land
Find me a place
Where all is well
(Leaders and Rulers, pg. 19).
However, in Who Bells The Cat, the poet seeks for a person to restore peace but saviour is far from reach:
“Who will bell the cat?
No mouse in sight yet”
In If and If I Were Me, the poet longs to be many things. Both poems depict a strong sense of perfect alternatives.
Amaryllis takes a political dive with poems like Agatu Massacre, The Forgotten Son (Niger Delta Poem) and I Am Chibok. I Am Chibok especially stings. In I Am Chibok, you remember the mess this this country is in; you remember how the political system does not protect you; you remember some girls are still captive almost three years on.
What a mess really.
You should add Amaryllis to your read list.
JOSEPH OMOTAYO (@omotayome) is a Nigerian reviewer and blogger. Some of his works are published at criticalliteraturereview.blogspot.com and josephomotayo.blogspot.com.