TITLE: THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE & HATE
AUTHOR: DAMILOLA POPOOLA
PAGES: 186 PAGES
DATE OF PUBLICATION: NOVEMBER 22, 2017
REVIEWER: SHOOLA OYINDAMOLA
Damilola Popoola is a testimony to the revival of poetry, particularly in Nigeria and among Nigerian writers. The subtle but majestic meanings that his poems hold are highly effective and outstanding.
He is a writer whose subtle words create imageries, discoveries, and meanings that a reader can easily connect with. Personally, his words easily engaged and connected with me as I read his debut anthology Thin Line Between Love & Hate, because the poems in it were simple and concise.
So many poems stood out to me in the book and many of them can be liked to a round-trip ticket from earth to heaven and then earth again – carrying me on a journey and bringing me home.
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I recently had the opportunity to meet Mitchell Jackson, the author of ‘The Residue Years’ and one of the questions I asked him was:
“How do you know when you are at the end of a story?” Mitchell responded that he believes “a good story is one that ends where it starts.”
This is what I discovered about the poems in ‘Thin Line between Love & Hate’. They proved Jackson’s words to be true. An example is a poem titled ‘Quake’ on page 19 in which Damilola writes:
“Maybe if I shook the
Heavens a little more
You might free fall into my waiting arms.”
The ending of the poem answered the inferred questions created at the beginning of the poem – like – “why would he shake the heavens?” And the poem, despite being so short and simple carries themes like love, longing, and goodness.
Another thing I admired in this anthology is Damilola’s code-mixing with Yoruba language and the Nigerian culture in general. In a poem titled “Love like Jollof” on page 22, Damilola writes:
“You, like owambe Jollof rice on
Any given Saturday noon are
What the boys long for.”
Besides the message, this poem is witty and I patiently wait for when Korede Bello or one of those Nigerian love artists will borrow the lines for a hit song.
There are many lessons in ‘Thin Line Between Love & Hate’. One of them that stands out to me is that ‘What goes around, comes around’, and this is well presented in ‘Escape Route’ on page 132. Damilola writes:
“Me chasing after you
Was the only way
I could run for my life.”
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It is not surprising that Damilola writes of himself as “someone who continually masters the art of micro poetry so as to combat the notion that poetry is disconnected, long and boring,” because the poems in the collecting are nowhere like the overtly long, verbose and boring creations of many modern poets.
Let me conclude by saying categorically that I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Thin Line Between Love & Hate’ and would recommend it to anyone – even those who claim not to like poetry. I am indeed very proud of Damilola and his anthology, and I hope that he continues to explore more forms and styles of poetry writing.