Book Title: Blazing Moon
Author: Nwachukwu Egbunike
Year of Publication: 2015
Publisher: Feathers and Ink
The world of Blazing Moon is perhaps can be best captured by the words of Kola Tubosun “The perceptive musings of a thinking man living in challenging times . Thoughtful, aware and introspective, Egbunike publicly invites the reader to share in his skeptical penetration of conventional patterns.”
Indeed the very first thing that draws the reader into the collection is its organic nature. The reader can see the poet persona like a child, maturing with every step taken further into the work. The poet draws the reader into his world, the world of the blazing moon as through the eyes of a child. First the world opens, with the poet persona’s awareness of himself (my Story is Mine), then he moves gradually to encompass a second person (Your Story is yours). As he realizes that there are even more people in the world still, his world view encompasses third persons (his word, wisdom songs, Her story, Praise verses). Gradually the process continues until the persona realizes that there are people who exist beyond his immediate frame of existence, immediate in time and immediate in location (Those who left) By the end of the work the poet persona has become like the Hawk in the Yoruba anecdote, who has flown to the top of the tallest palm tree, whose keen eyes can now see everywhere. He is now in a position to engage the wider society and he does it with no harsh words spared (A Penny for Your hashtag). If the reader pays the required attention to the work, he would see the metamorphosis of a poet persona who as he becomes increasingly aware of his environment tries to maintain a neutrality by not talking about his environment, only content to share his own thoughts, but as the social and political issues around him, his neutrality is gradually eroded away, until his last vestiges are swept away and he is forced to lash out in anger at the wrongs around him. perhaps this is what Dami Ajayi Author of Clinical Blues means when he talks about the work being “delicate and daring” the delicate innocence at its beginning, and the daring , no holds barred social criticism at its end.
Another noteworthy point about the collection is its simplicity. Its language is quite simple and easy to comprehend, ditto for its subject matter. What the reader finds in Blazing Moon, is not an attempt to impress, but a raw honest, appraisal of the poet’s world. The poet’s main objective is to tell a story, it just happens to be that the story comes out in form of poetry. To the poet, the message of the poems takes centre stage and the other elements of poetry are just there to help the message along. The Poem “Paint Yours” (pg 14) is perhaps the poem that best describes the collection. In defense of Egbunike’s style, the subject matter in his poems are for the generation of individuals who (at the risk of generalization) are daily inundated by information from social media, and barely have time to appreciate the convoluted form of high poetry. The essence of literature is when the audience is able to relate with its message, and that Nwachukwu Egbunike has realized with blazing moon
Having mentioned the collection’s strengths, the collection does have its own weaknesses, and an area that comes to mind in this regard is the language of the work. Poetry is a high form of literature, and therefore, Good poetry is as much about its form as it is about the message. The thing that makes a poet different from any other type of creator of literature, is his (the poet’s) ability to use his imagination. The poet is a master of subtlety, delivering his message without being on the nose about it leaving concepts to the reader’s imagination. The poet’s skill with words creates new worlds where the reader can only inhabit with his imagination. While some of the poems in Blazing Moon show promise in their richness and vividness , some of the others are sparse in imagination.Egbunike’s attempts to use words in their non-literal sense, often serves to confuse the reader rather than set their imagination alight for instance in Smarter than a Smartphone (Pg 101) there are expressions such as “Step siding the truth with piousness” “step-siding” in this case is a twist on “sidestepping” but the word makes no sense in this case. Also consider the third verse of the same poem:
The ping of their berry
Rings with curses
Roars with disgust
The pooh-pooh sprawls on their mats
Instead of stoking the reader’s imagination, the writer leaves incomplete thoughts that confuse the reader. Who or what is doing the “ringing with curses” and “roaring with disgust” is it the berry or its owners, can Berries ping and roar at the same time? the poet gets carried away and forgets to be a poet, becoming a social critic writing poetry rather than the other way round. The poem that is perharps most guilty of this in the collection is “The Cracked King”. Thus instead of a smooth ride through the world of “Blazing Moon” what the reader gets is a bumpy jarring ride. It would unfair to dismiss the collection out of hand, because indeed it does show plenty of promise, but the perceptive reader will realize that the poet needs a lot more work on his craft. Any work of literature must justify its reason to exist in whatever genre it exists in, but in Blazing Moon the reader comes away with the feeling that some of the poems should have come in prose form instead. That is not a good feeling to have about poetry.
Whichever way one looks at it, Blazing Moon is poetry for the new African. It is a collection that can inspire a new generation, who live in a World which boundaries have been redefined by the Internet and Social Media, to find their voice and to engage their realities with creative writing and indeed poetry.