Wanderings through Ezeanah's trilogy
Trilogy; by Chiedu
Ezeanah (Ibadan, Nigeria: Kraft Books Ltd, 2005)
I saw it
coming, in a manner of
speaking. Right from that day in 1985 when ayoung man walked into my office
at the University of Ibadan and said, between spurts of youthful diffidence and declarative
aplomb: "I am Chiedu, Sir, Chiedu Ezeanah".
Tender, willowy, and
shyly cheerful, he also
struck me forcibly with the deliberateness and acute intensity embodied in his
young frame. Those traits played out poignantly later in my Poetry Writing Workshop. Even
at that young age and at that level of artistic apprenticeship, Ezeanah struck
me with an intriguing
sense of deja vu: there was an ancient modernity, a primordial futurity, to his verse
that kept me wondering where in my past life, where in my past literary
wanderings, I had met this bardic, shamanic phenomenon. Ezeanah's responses
broke beyond the compass of assigned topics. He invested every issue with a
seriousness and resonance that provoked the teacher's wonder.
sense of form betrayed
the splendid disobedience of a poet willing to abide by the rules of lexical and syntactic
structuring without allowing himself to be imprisoned by them.
encountered very early in Ezeanah's verse, those long, limpid lines, that chaste promiscuity with
words, that penchant for apostrophising, that have now become the hallmarks of
his poetic style. Our class argued over all things great and small: from the
mammoth rumble of the elephant to the wee whirring of the mosquito, from the
protocol of the happily executed metaphor to the finicky placement of
a great time to argue! What a giddy time to kick and carve! My Creative Writing workshops
between 1983 and 1990 bubbled with some of the most gifted, most enthusiastic
students in my teaching career: Remi Raji, Olakunle George, John Cheng, Afam Akeh,
Akin Adesokan, Foluso Henry, Niyi Okunoye, Yebo Adamolekun, Nike Adesuyi, Jumoke Bamgbose, Dayo
Olumide, Funmi Adewole, Babatunde Ajayi, Frank Ikhimwin, Saidat Odoffin, Osama Ighile,
Bisi Adeigbo, Pius Ohue....These, by and large, were Ezeanah's colleagues -
and sparring partners, and they constituted the core of the UNIBADAN Poetry Club.
this club were budding talents such as Nduka Otiono who came from the Prose Workshop;
Godwin Amatoritsero Ede from Modern Languages; Onookome Okome and Dapo Adeniyi
from Theatre Arts, Nehru Odeh and Mondale Ogbodo from the Social Sciences. Sesan
Ajayi was the grand organiser, while the intrepid Odia Ofeimun was a frequent,
inspiring presence. Under the tutelage of Harry Garuba and Emevwo Biakolo,
these "Thursday Group" (for that was the day we usually met) gave the Poetry Club a
vibrancy and significance that went far beyond the campus walls.
Ezeanah earned his totem in this creative ferment, waxed with its moon, blossomed in its rains.
The collection that emerged from his Advanced Creative Writing Workshop was
indisputably the best in his year and one of the most promising I encountered
in my two decades of teaching creative writing at Ibadan University.
I saw that
promise and told the
author, and have never failed to impress on him that he owes us all the debt of becoming a
published poet. To be sure, Ezeanah has won some important poetry prizes and enriched
our newspaper pages with his highly evocative verse, but as I have told him
times without number, he is no doubt a major voice that should not be content
with the measly status of a "newspaper poet".
entreaties seem to have worked. Atlast. Those verse nuggets that have rested so uneasily in
Ezeanah's files for so long are now being committed to the book. In the following
pages are the polyphonic, triumphantly referential pulses of one of Nigeria's
most literate, most resonant voices. There is anger in these poems, raw, righteous
anger, at the cannibalistic Nigerian polity and its philistine assault on
all that is decent. But there is also love, a testament to all that is human; a
covenant with the ideals of Nature and the spirit of freedom.
philosophical to the most wrenchingly satirical, these are poems clearly vested in
the dibianic power of words. In their twilight musings are tender paths to our
dawning; in their endsongs the real beginnings of our anthem of being and
endlessly happy to have met this poet in our learning process. Chiedu Ezeanah is the bardic
voice of his generation and one of the finest.
© 2005 Niyi
Osundare. Reprinted by