TITLE: SEVEN FLOWERS OF GRATITUDE
EDITOR: BRIGITTE POIRSON AND KUKOGHO IRUESIRI SAMSON
NUMBER OF PAGES: 32
PUBLISHER: WORDS RHYMES & RHYTHM
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2020
REVIEWER: EBUBECHUKWU BRUNO NWAGBO
Seven Flowers of Gratitude is the title of the latest Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest (BPPC) anthology for. The book collects the top twenty poems of the April/May 2020 edition of the contest themed around the Coronavirus pandemic. The anthology was co-edited by Kukogho IUruesiri Samson and Brigitte Poirson, herself a Coronavirus survivor who documented her experience in a recently published memoir SURVIVING CORONATION.
The winning poem after which the anthology was named ‘Seven Flowers of Gratitude’, was penned by Osadolor Williams Osayande. Osayande goes richly African in the poem; as he throws cowries of gratitude to the earth. He re-enacts the African ritual of throwing cowries into calabash, a traditional way of showing gratitude to God. This time, the cowries are thrown in anticipation of the end of the pandemic. When we can make “ungloved love” and friends would greet with intimacy. He wrote:
We'll make calabashes kiss cowries as "seven flowers of gratitude shower out of our nostrils."
The seven continents of the world would invest more in our health security and we would cherish relationships that we have taken for granted before now.
In ‘Letter to the Ball with Spikes’ 2nd prize Winner Fortune Ben brings out both the fortune and misfortune that the Coronavirus has brought to humankind. He speaks gratefully to Covid-19:
Sweetheart, thine effect hath brought out talents in people.
My friends have turned writers and motivational speakers.
Thou hast honed each person's skill in double.
We all have learnt the essence of paying our dues, which we now do.
Thou art appreciated and blamed for thine impact,
I believe that, in writing in the ‘thou’ and ‘art’ language found in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, Fortune takes authority from the power of Christ and invokes a faith-healing by coining a new meaning for ‘Covid’:
"Christ Over Viruses and Infectious Diseases"
As the world looks to God to prove the essence of His existence.
Third prize winner Oladimeji Adebayo speaks furiously from “the tempestuous temper of our darling fatherland” Nigeria. His verses detail how the virus has brought out the worst of the virus in our governments, manufacturers, dubious health practitioners, security officials and get-rich-quick emergency contractors who have emerged to feed fact from our common ruin. Oladimeji tells us that we have two emergencies in our hands, hence the title of his poem ‘The Duopoly’.
There are many other notable poems. Akor Agada Nathaniel’s ‘Winning Wars with Words’ which charges the world to be each other’s keeper noting that “a major threat anywhere is a threat everywhere!”. Ayokunle Samuel and Olaleye D. Sunshine reminds us that we live “Under a Common Sun” and we must all fight to save this earth because we have “Nowhere Else” to call ours. Tolulope Impact makes a beautiful imprint in this beautiful collection with his triple triolet and Ukpayank Kingsley Ayi laments the impact of a lockdown in a country like Nigeria where the health system, even in Aso Rock, has been on lockdown long before Covid-19 locked us down “without the freedom to leave”. Afolabi Oluwatobiloba tells of an August visitor, a mighty mole who is teaching us a new way to fight war while Olowo Qudus Opeyemi and Divine Inyang Titus speak of “Unaccustomed” traditions that the year “Two Thousand and Twenty” has brought upon humankind.
It is remarkable that, despite the “Worrisome Wonder” of the global panic and fatalities, the poets do not leave us comfortless. Poems like Johnson Agnes’ ‘Wielding Words’ remind us once again what words can do and Akor Agada’s ‘Winning Wars with Words’ offer us encouragement. The poets seem to have deliberately resolved to spread hope instead of fear which weakens the immune system.
‘Drugged Souls’ by Ibrahim Clouds Ibrahim proves to be the perfect last poem in the anthology. It is written in a unique style that you may not have known before.
As Brigitte Poirson, writes in the introduction to this anthology, these poets have clearly come to terms with the issues and sufferings the coronavirus pandemic wrought upon the world. They help us to come to terms with it as well. As the world seems to be coming to an end, Matthew Arnold’s words that art still offers refuge is validated here. I invite you to take refuge in the art of poesy and share in the gratitude in “Seven Flowers of Gratitude”.
Few publishers give back to the society the way Words Rhymes and Rhythm (WRR) Publishers does. Over the years, through the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest, WRR has not only rewarded monetarily young poets but has discovered new voices who are making it in the literary world today. Examples of these voices are Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau, Ogwiji Ehi, Chizoba Otubelu, Emmanuel Faith and Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact.
I, therefore, recommend this anthology which can be downloaded for free.