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Vol.3. No. 4. July - September 2010





Afam Akeh
Andy Willoughby
Claire Girvan
Christian Ward
Derek Adams
Esiaba Irobi
Hannah Lowe
Hunter Liguore
Ikechukwu Obialo Azuonye
Karunamay Sinha
Kate Horsley
Laura Solomon
Lookman Sanusi
Malcolm Bray
Mark Lewis
Moa-Aaricia Lindunger
N Quentin Woolf
Nina Romano
Nnorom Azuonye
Norbert O. Eze
Olu Oguibe
Pius Adesanmi
Robert Lee Frazier
Toyin Adepoju
Uche Nduka
Wayne Scheer
Zino Asalor

Edited by

Andy Willoughby

and Bob Beagrie


"Poetry is the energy that moves the world. It is that inexplicable force that brought the universe into being and which will also destroy it. The Ocean has its own poetry. The desert as a well. The forest. Crowds. Politics. Cities. Towns. Villages. Football. Basket ball. Religion. Sex. Murder. Love. Food. Academics, all have their own poetry. An African market (not supermarket) is the finest example of true poetry."

- Esiaba Irobi My e-conversation with Esiaba Irobi



A Song About What Happens
(For The Minstrel, Esiaba Irobi)

This is the song I told you about,
in the vernacular of spirit
channelled through men like me;
lyrics unfettered chip and stir,
then from recesses blow veils away
until lives presumed ordinary
yield unusual stories.

The song rises equally -
for the first breath, and
the certain stillness afterwards;

women whose brows bear kaolin art
dance and ululate through the village.
Where a cry of infancy rises

there is relief; the woman
with a swollen belly was, thankfully,
only heavy with life.

Men stand in small groups

to dirge forth fallen kin through
the gateway of ancestral lodges;

the seat of justice.

The song rises for feet that kiss,
feet that shuffle by still, or
rolling feet, on life's dance floor -
when birds and insects sing to unite
the animate and the inanimate,
cousins in one universe.

Do chairs know people sit on them?
Do aeroplanes know they fly?
Do cars know they are driven by men?

Why do lips and heels crack in the harmattan?
Why do crocuses sprout in springtime?
Why do birds lay eggs and humans don't?
Why do men raise arms against men?
Why do we grow old and die?
Why do we cry when a loved on dies?

This song enslaves me
in waking hours,
the story of life couched in rhythms
of screams and silences,
fear and fun.

Listen to the beats…
they are alive, punching tongues
unto paths of honour,
new ways of thinking,
these beats, optimistic, hopeful,
celebrate pockets of friendship;
survivors of unnecessary wars
and hardship.

This song, a journey into the core
of breath, is sometimes just that –
a song, meaning nothing,
like morning breeze
cool and fresh in the face.

This is the song I told you about,
mirror to my face, and the core?
If there is hope and joy
in the lines of our faces,
let there be laughter.
If there is fear and sadness
in the lines of our faces,
let there be tears.

I am a songwriter,
and all I have is this song.


"A song about what happens" dedicated to Esiaba Irobi back in 2004 was first published in Other Voices e-Anthology Vol. 15, November 6, 2005


Related Article


Excerpts from 'Funeral of the Minstrel'




Nnorom Azuonye is the Director of Operations & Creative Services, Eastern Light EPM International, UK.

He is the Founder & Administrator, Sentinel Poetry Movement, and Editor, Sentinel Literary Quarterly. He is also the Publisher of Sentinel Nigeria - the online magazine of contemporary Nigerian writing, and Publisher/Editor of Nollywood Focus.

His books include Blue Hyacinths (2010, ed. with Geoff Stevens), The Bridge Selection: Poems for the Road (2005), and Letter to God and Other Poems (2003). His interviews, essays, poems, and short stories have appeared in several magazines & newspapers including; African Writing, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Orbis, DrumVoices Revue, Next, Eclectica and Agenda.


SPQ #2





Sentinel Literary Quarterly is Published by Sentinel Poetry Movement | Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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