Why is “Colourless Rainbow” sub-titled “Poetry of My Childhood? – a Keen Reader

Have you ever wondered why my debut book, “Colourless Rainbow” is sub-titled “Poetry of My Childhood”? Well, one keen reader did and this is how he puts it in a message I received recently which I just discovered in my spam mail:

“The sub-title is a curious one. Although one of the seven movements in the collection, “Camouflage” did predominantly portray the oppression and suppression of freedom in the military era, precisely June 12, 1993′ when I believe you were still much of a child, I sense there could be something more. The collection also didn’t tell us about your childhood really. In my opinion, perhaps it is your childhood inclination to the rainbow in contrast to the blood; two symbols you used repetitively to create some kind of unity.”

“Perhaps, it’s that childish innocence in what you feel the world ought to be; or perhaps, it is the excessive love children have for imageries which colour your poetry. Or, alternatively or complementarily, to take my last shot at unravelling why you have used this sub-title, it is truly the poetry of your childhood since, according to the preface, you wrote a number of poems in the collection in your teenage and early youthful years.”

“Flowing from my last guess, should we then be expecting the poetry of your youth soon? Is that what we should expect from your forthcoming second collection of poems, “Stranger in the Mirror of My Life and Other Pieces”?”

“Don’t mind my curiosity. I have read some selected pieces from your forthcoming work on your blog, and I had a very good read. Mind if I share some of these pieces?”

What do you think?

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Like the Very First Day at the Railway Crossroad

Whenever I look into your eyes

I discover how long you’ve been staring silently at me

From your sickbed

As I sat beside you seeming

lost in empty space

with your right hand clasped into mine

I could tell what worries weighed you down

What hopelessness held your heart

In this haze of uncertainties,

wondering if the hand you now hold so tightly

would ever let go.

How can I ever forget you in this moment of your life

When I cannot stop remembering what you mean to me?

As incurable as the virus holding your other hand

My love for you holds on to the other

And beyond this, hold on to your heart

To give life the meaning we have both known over the years

Together in the bliss of life’s beauty

Hidden in hate, but visible in love.

If this is not more than a disease,

Let our love be the vaccine fighting it off together

Giving us the chance to rediscover the treasures

And cherish every moment from now in the coming re-enchantment

Such re-enchantment like falling in love with you, Elizabeth

All over again like the very first time

When two strangers met at the crossroad along the railway

but hand-in-hand

we got to the other side as lovers

and have never looked back, just like trains never go backwards.

“I love you, Lizzy”, I whispered to her.

We’re in this train together,

Because watching you leave

while I wave goodbye with tear-filled smiles from the train station

is only one choice.

But who needs one choice to live

When many times the colours of your love

Paint rainbow of choices on the canvass of our lives
Giving life more meaning
in moments too memorable to forget,
“I love you too, sweetheart.”

And her smiles burst into a soft-sounding chuckle
Like the very first day at the railway crossroad.

What If it’s the Way We Love?

What If it’s the Way We Love? is specially dedicated to all the people living with HIV/ AIDS (PLWHA) out there this yuletide season. Selected from a work in progress, “Stranger the Mirror of M y Life and Other Pieces”, I dared to ask all of us: what If it’s the Way We Love? in our quest to save humanity from itself. Or what do you think?

 

what if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

 

was just a thing?

 

A thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we love, sores of the way we make love,

treat love, desire love, the way we show and share love

the way we name love?

Just a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we push and test love,

the way we tempt love, open sores of the way we kill love

the way we forget love?

 

What if it is just that thing

seeping through the open sores

of the way we sell love,

compromise love, the way we treat love and shame love,

the way we touch love, sacrifice love

or sometimes,

a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we prove love

when between two

there are doubts.

Just the way we hold on to love

when it’s no more there,

the way we fight for love, stay for love

when love is lost.

The way we wait for love

when love is gone,

the way we live for love

when love is dead?

 

What if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

What if it’s the way we love?

what if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

A thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we love, sores of the way we make love,

treat love, desire love, the way we show and share love

the way we name love?

Just a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we push and test love,

the way we tempt love, open sores of the way we kill love

the way we forget love?

What if it is just that thing

seeping through the open sores

of the way we sell love,

compromise love, the way we treat love and shame love,

the way we touch love, sacrifice love

or sometimes,

a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we prove love

when between two

there are doubts.

Just the way we hold on to love

when it’s no more there,

the way we fight for love, stay for love

when love is lost.

The way we wait for love

when love is gone,

the way we live for love

when love is dead?

 

What if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

What if it’s the way we love?

what if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

A thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we love, sores of the way we make love,

treat love, desire love, the way we show and share love

the way we name love?

Just a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we push and test love,

the way we tempt love, open sores of the way we kill love

the way we forget love?

What if it is just that thing

seeping through the open sores

of the way we sell love,

compromise love, the way we treat love and shame love,

the way we touch love, sacrifice love

or sometimes,

a thing seeping through the open sores

of the way we prove love

when between two

there are doubts.

Just the way we hold on to love

when it’s no more there,

the way we fight for love, stay for love

when love is lost.

The way we wait for love

when love is gone,

the way we live for love

when love is dead?

 

What if this scourge

this pandemic, this plague

wiping out our race

from the face of earth

without a face

was just a thing?

 

What if it’s the way we love?

The Evolution of the Literary Text, “Complete Poetry for Students and Writers” by Senator Ihenyen, Nigerian Poet and Author

The young Nigerian poet and writer,
Senator Ihenyen
was the principal Founder of the now defunct Apollo Writers Online as far back as 2004. He with his colleague, Opeyemi Ogundele, ran a listserve that served as a creative forum where both young and upcoming Nigerian poets and other international writers sharpened their writing skills through constructive criticisms and feedback.

Together, they explored publishing opportunities on the Internet. Apollo also collaborated with the Lagos branch of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA Lagos) under Folu Agoi’s chairmanship to provide reading materials for members who were to read or perform their unpublished works in ANA meetings. Soft copy submissions made to Apollo Writers Online were processed and made available to everyone in hard copies.

In 2004, Apollo with the aim of bridging the wide gap between Literature as a creative writing exercise among writers and Literature as an academic study among students came up with a Literary and Educational Project. This project involved writing a JAMB syllabus poetry-based literary text for students at the University Matriculations Examinatins (UME) level. With Senator Ihenyen as author, and Opeyemi Ogundele as contributor and Assistant Project Coordinator, the book was completed in August 2005. The duo were interviewed by Juliet Bumah, Art Editor, Daily Times of Nigeria, and Henry Akubuiro of The Sun in the same year

.
Daily Times Sept 2005

However,

after an unsuccessful solicitation for sponsorship to fund the publishing, and failing to get a publishing contract that would see the book in the market within the two-year period the mainly syllabus-based book would last, the project remained in the pipeline.

Relentless and determined to produce a well researched textbook for the study of poetry, Senator Ihenyen embarked on writing an entirely new book with a wider scope. This time, the young and energetic poet and author of the collection of poems Colourless Rainbow , ensured that the book was not based on any short-lived or time-bound syllabus which would only run for a few number of years. In the words of the author who is also now a Lawyer, “With a continually deepening interest in creative writing and literary research, I remained strongly committed and dedicated to realising the objective of producing a well-researched study text. This time around, I’ve ensured that the manuscript will not end up like “Spirit of Poetry: the Apollo Series.” That manuscript became outdated after the UME English Literature syllabus changed after two years. “Complete Poetry for Students and Writers” could be described as a timeless textbook based on a wider and richer curriculum and scope, with both students of poetry at all levels and creative writers in mind.”

Presently, what is left to be done to get the manuscript finally completed is the glossary of terms and index.

Of course, the hunt for a good academic publisher starts now. According to the poet who got a Honourary Mention in the ANA NDDC/Gabriel Okara Prize for his debut Colourless Rainbow, “Painfully, the last time Academic Press, Lagos indicated interest in publishing the old “Spirit of Poetry” in September 2005, the two-year-UME-syllabus-based text had till 2007 to remain relevant to the target market. Meanwhile, it couldn’t wait till the time the publishing house had required to include it in their publishing budget. This time, with the wider scope of the work, that limitation of time has been greatly taken care of.”

The manuscript of the new book, “Complete Poetry for Students and Writers” is written by Senator Ihenyen. One of the new voices in Nigerian poetry, Senator Ihenyen’s experience as a practicing poet and volunteer tutor in English Literature courses has provided the author with the resourcefulness and ability to embark on writing this textbook. At the University of Benin, Benin City, the former two-time President of Golden Minds Nigeria, a youth empowerment initiative, was widely known for teaching courses such as Introduction to Poetry, Introduction to Drama and Oral Literature as a volunteer tutor for five years. His teaching materials are still being used today by students of Law and English Language at the University.

ANA PRIZES 2011 SHORTLISTS

The following works are shortlisted for the ANA awards 2011. The eventual winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner of the 30th International Annual Convention of the ANA in Abuja.

Adult Category

1. ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for Women Writing (100,000 naira)
Heart Trick by Joan Oji
Our Wife Forever by Julie Okoh
Twilight at Terracotta Indigo by Umari Anyim

2. ANA/Jacaranda Prize for Prose (50,000 naira)
Sieged by Adamu Kyuta Usman
The Two Sparrows by Ida Offor

3. ANA/Chevron Prize for Environmental Issues ($2000)
Only one merit being shortlisted. It will be announced at the Convention.

4. ANA/NDDC Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Prose (100,000 naira)
Roses and Bullets by Akachi Ezeigbo
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Soneyin
Twilight at Terracotta Indigo by Usman Anyim

5. ANA/NDDC Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry (100,000 naira)
No award made. Three entries that merit Honourable mention will be announced at the Convention.

6. ANA/James Ene Hemshaw Prize for Playwriting (150,000 naira)
Olubu by Isiaka Aliagan
The Scent of Crude Oil by Eni Umuko

7. ANA/NDDC J.P. Clark Prize for Drama (100,000)
A Haunting Part by Julie Okoh
Casket of Her Dreams by Isaac Attah Ogezi
Ogidi Mandate by Olu Obafemi

8. ANA/Cadbury Prize for Poetry ($2000)
Ode on Lagos & Other Portraits by Jeff Unaegbu
The Beauty I Have Seen by Tanure Ojaide
The Primus of Cupid by Abubakar Othman

9. ANA/Esiaba Irobi Prize for Playwriting (50,000 naira)
Only one merits being shortlisted. To be announced at the Convention.

Children’s Category

1. Fatima Akilu, Preye and the Sea of Plastic
2. Chinyere Obi-Obasi, The Great Fall
3. Lola Shoneyin, Mayowa and the Masquerade

ANA/Funtime Prize for Children’s Literature (Prose)
1. Nnenna Ihebom, The Lunar Princess
2. spencer Okoroafor, Jide Meets a Ghost
3. K. C. Suleiman, Akin’s Assignment

ANA/Lantern Books Prize for Children Fiction
1. Chinyere Obi-Obasi, Chijike
2. Nu U. Nu, Tension in Animal Kingdom
3. Ayo Kolapo, The Blind’s Daughter

ANA/Mazariyaja Prize
No shortlist because of insufficient entries.

Hyacinth Obunseh
General Secretary,
Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).