TITLE: THE TEXTURE OF AIR
AUTHOR: SODIQ ALABI
NUMBER OF PAGES: 58
PUBLISHER: Amab Publishing Ltd
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2015
REVIEWER: Salamatu Sule
Just exactly how do you feel the texture of air? Is it like something soothing while passing through the nostrils, or is it that thing that triggers and chokes you right in the throat that you grasp for breath?
Only in this collection you will find answers!
In this book of three parts with fifty-eight poems, Sodiq Alabi shows to us brilliantly, the metaphor of a society gone grey, dark and cold. He puts it straight on the table the bearers and spoilers of the society and how it almost stops us from breathing.
It is a poem of confrontation about the breach of a nation’s trust with respect to its wealth and health of two categories of generations: the poet personae’s generation and that of his founding fathers.
Though the poet-persona representing the contemporary state in wistfulness is almost left defenseless about the irresponsibility and naivety of his society; he defends his own generation of not being part of those that brought the system near a state of rottenness though his defense is perceived as futile waste.
The persona responds to his faultfinder on his innocence and that of his generation about the state of being while pleading not to be rough handle by accusation:
Write, write some tributes for innocence
Pawned on the altar of cheap change
Write some tribute for boys
Boys who under a simpler state of the sky would have been men
Men with special sense
Nigeria here is personified as the person whom the accuser is venting his anger and frustration on; ironically, all are Nigerians with different perceptions about the fraternal figure with framed up blame. The poet-persona speaks from a second generation point of view and Sodiq captures the conversation with a run-on-line this way:
“I am not Nigeria
I am not your father
Did I kill your dream
Your gangling spirit
Did I pour acid on your master plan
While you sleep through walk through life
So get your hand off my shirt
(The Texture of Air, page 9)
Alabi creates a drab and depressing state of mind something close to pain with psychological disturbance through enjambment; the persona finds himself sitting on the fence in a futile effort to provide forensic evidence on who is to blame for the systemic social, economic, religious and political woes. He relies on a more stable base to provide positive and mature way of sharing responsibilities for all to redefine and change what should to be the model and lifestyle of an ideal Nigeria.
The poet-persona creates a tragic sense of loss and victimization against his being. He fears we may never look things up from the positive as blaming one government or the other is the social norm of the day. He puts it succinctly:
“Here we lament the thrashing of trust, shredded
Not into pieces that fade and are forgotten
Like the tales of ruins languishing in our archives”
Sodiq went further to lightening the situation by way of reawakening our spirit from the state of unconsciousness to realities and for the fecundity of our collective responsibility for a positive change.
In the wake of a new euphoria, we can stop being choleric about accusations and counter accusation but the need to identify and bring solutions to table to building an economic and political stable environment where all will be regarded special. One can easily relate this to the poem, My Dream:
As the butterfly blows colours
Which fly, swaying rainbow style
(Texture of Air, Pg15)
The poet- persona warns us about the danger of giving up on a country like Nigeria because we have collectively failed to grow it to that mature state:
We wail and reach for shadows
How absurd our strive
(Texture of Air, Page 1)
A reader who comes in contact with Alabi’s poetry falls in love at first read and then begins to assimilate himself into its universe in search of where he rightly belongs, either as a faultfinder or a solution seeker or just someone who just uncovered the texture of Air.
The language use is simple; a reader can easily identify the major thematic plunge from pain, anger, to that of hope. In this collection, the theme of confrontation runs through as we read on we can easily figure out a dialogue between two people or more. Though the tone set out is that of despair.
There is that sharp contrast about the seeming texture of air as something that is rough of which can be made smooth but just how we can achieve this is the author’s main concern .
Other literary devices explored by the author is the use of personification, metaphor and enjambment; a run on line without punctuations. Literarily one can say the poet persona is really angry about the state of his society.
There is no doubt, Sodiq Alabi writes beautifully well, he is a poet to look out for in the future; his lines and verses can pierce through a readers skin.
Alabi’s kind of poetry has been captured vividly by Odoh Diego Okenyodo, Country Coordinator, Splendors of Dawn Foundation and World Poetry Movement in Nigeria who says:
“Sodiq Alabi writes poetry with an annoying pleasantness because his collection is full of ambushes. You are tempted to pigeonhole him after some lines and then he lurches into some acrobatics, not only with words but the ideas”.