TITLE: THE HATE ARTIST
AUTHOR: NIRAN OKEWOLE
PUBLISHER: KHALAM EDITIONS
YEAR OF PUBLICATION DATE: 2015
NO OF PAGES: 67
FORMAT: PAPER BACK
Let us begin, I suggest with Wallace Stevens. Writing in The Necessary Angel he said: “Poetry itself, the naked poem is the imagination manifesting itself in its domination of words”.
Enter Niran Okewolein 39 poems that reveal much learning, curatorial phrasing and refinement. And all this exist essentially within the praxis of historical awareness.
The title poem, The Hate Artist (on page 43, third section of the book) is in itself an artistic dissertation on the elusive virulence of Hatred/Hate, its mutability but also its constancy throughout all of known history. And in this year of closed doors (read closed borders, nativism and targeted violence), in this year of Mr. Trump, Boko Haram and unnamable cruelties in places, Niran Okewole, offers us constellation thinking and an interior journey into the fears and smallness that govern minds that pursue darkness with such artistic precision.
The author has a mind for places. He quickly establishes that. His eyes, you suspect, as a child had often gazed at maps with longing, his mind destined for distant places. But the artistic gaze trained at historical sites and distant places also return, with no less panache, read profundity, to the immediacy of nearby terrains. He is as familiar with the suburbs of Paris as he is with Ojuelegba. Read Cosmopolis (pg.27) and A Voyage Around the Bar (pg. 27).
I aspire to manyness. In Niran’s The Hate Artist, mayness jumps at you. The commune from which he drinks stretch endlessly: Walcott, Plath, Billy Collins, Bitek, Neruda. He knows his Foucault, he knows his Heaney. But you also see, in between the lines, that this author also knows that “after the reggae you’ve just got to play the Blues”.
You might get the feeling—I concede this is very much possible—in reading the book that here is a writer essentially persuaded of his own brilliance. But look closely and you might see, as I did,that brilliance here is not an end in itself. It’s a journey towards human tenderness.
In Niran Okewole’s Hate Artist, everything surrenders–even the high art of brilliance in the face of such purifying thing as the love of a child.
Hear him: “This mighty gulp of air and everywhere pops open……./it does not matter that nukes are all over the world tonight../Unwrap the fist again. The world is a den of hope. Because a child just took its first breath”.
By Gbenga Adesina