my struggle with silence

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NYTimes: Why Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A.

NYTimes: Why Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A.
http://nyti.ms/1yXQw7F

This is an insightful essay on the rapidly blooming desire of writers to acquire a M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing. It highlights, mostly from experiences of past attendees and those close to the programme enough to give authoritative insights, the good, bad, tolerable, but most importantly, what I perceive to be the truth.
Read and enjoy.

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This is not political, it’s just about watermelons

My mum returned home earlier this week mildly distraught because she could not get watermelon on her way from work. She has been taking fruits almost every morning for some years now. Talk about eating healthy. Watermelon and cucumber are her favourites. I am distraught too. I treat myself to some watermelon while I slice some for her some mornings, not primarily because it is considered healthy to eat fruits, but because watermelon is red, juicy, and delicious. Its redness merges with the red colour that God carpeted my mouth with, and melts into my soul. We become one. Watermelon is a strong contender for my favourite fruit. I cannot say the same thing for cucumber though.

My mum said the Hausas she buys watermelon from had travelled home, up north. The presidential election is today and one of them had told her earlier that he was travelling ‘home’ to vote. I shrugged. No more watermelon for me until election is over.

I often refrain myself from political debates because I find the thought of Nigerian politics nauseating. It is dirty, extremely manipulative, and it almost never profits the masses. I am still bewildered by how easily politicians are able to have such loyal supporters, especially youths. They are ready to fight and die, as though there are not more than enough stupid reasons and ways to fight and die already, for a ludicrously small amount of Naira notes. I guess Tolu Daniel was right in his article earlier this week: Nigerians are not corrupt, they are just hungry.

I had never cared who won which election, until now. I have unfortunately arrived at that stage in my life when things like government, economy, and other tedious concepts grownups are compulsively burdened with matter, because it affects me directly now.

I just completed the imposed National Service, which by the way I think has failed to serve the purpose it was intended to serve when it was created. I’ve been a student all my life, so I had always relied on my parents unashamedly for financial support. I was a corps member for the last year, so I’ve been receiving allowances (allowee) from our dear federal government. Now I’ve been dumped into an unfamiliar category where I must leave the pride and wander into the bush to start my own pride. Employment opportunities are virtually non-existent. One must know someone with influence to get even the most ridiculous job most times. The idleness of unemployment is distressing, and there is only one person to blame-the government, the head of the government, and ultimately, the Nigerian President.

There are very minute opportunities for youths to thrive. Being youthful now means wallowing about for years after school, searching for, but not finding what to do. You are startled when you get to your first interview venue and find over a thousand others who are also there for the same interview. You go through the job advertisement again to be sure, and you are right, only five vacancies were advertised, and it is not a top paying job for that matter.

Security seems to be the top issue on the priority list we hope whoever becomes the newly-elected President would have, but there are other challenges that should share that top spot as well. Majority of Nigerians have never witnessed uninterrupted power for half a day, the roads are in a dismal state, there is so much poverty in the wind that our lungs cannot tell it apart, unemployment is now a norm, corruption is a plague in every corner of the country-from taxi drivers to an Executive Directors, amongst others.

Today, I woke up, performed my salat, fried some meats, cooked a large pot of sumptuous fried rice, ate, and now watching TV. I will not vote today, because I do not have my Permanent Voter’s Card (which is largely my fault by the way). I will put my trust in the media to give me real time updates on how the rest of the country fares as today unfold. I will hope that people do not have to kill one another in election’s name. I hope for sanity. I hope the best candidate wins.

Now to the most important wish of all, I hope the watermelon sellers return soon, in good health, so I won’t have to grow my own watermelons. I wish the rest of the about 170 million Nigerians the good juice of today’s fruit.

To get justice, we must be willing to be just. Fight until you can fight no more for justice, but do not let yourself be so weak that you become violent. The ecstasy of justice is for everyone to live and see it reign, even those who oppose it. In the spirit of my religion, I must say, from a quote I read some time ago, that nothing on earth is worth going to hell for.

Beyond

Pull me off this deserted street I gallop
It ends where it breaks, leading
Down to where my coming will not
Upset weary dust.
I should have known, least probed
Smoke overing above
Clouding spaces my forehead would smash,
Prepping me for falling beyond
Rope, ladder, hope.
Night tells days that not only sight makes us.
Days die, relapse,
Bask in re-resurrection.
Souls look to days for hope
Which declines to share its secret,
Stumbling,  dismantling beyond recoupling.
I see death axing my ceiling:
It leaves too many leaks
For resistance to seal

EVERYTHING IN NIGERIA IS GOING TO KILL YOU | By Ayo Sogunro

Ayo Sogunro

There are two things you need to note: first, the title above is not panic propaganda. Of course, it sounds like one, talks like one and smells like one, yet it’s no propaganda, it’s a fact. But even if you disagree with this premise, then let’s call it propaganda, but it is one that has become necessary and urgent at this point.

Second, I’m quite serious about the intent stated in the title: Nigeria is out to kill you. The country is going to hell in a hand basket. This is not a drill. And we have arrived at this point simply because you don’t care. If you understand this statement, then you need not read any further.

Are you are still wondering how we got to this point? There are many articles with superb analysis of the current crisis. These have listed all the factors responsible: from an…

View original post 1,255 more words

Bindlestiff

Poesy plus Polemics

take pause of due rest
at this far advanced
milepost shaded by
century sycamores
unravel the bindle
lay out those dear
meager possessions
life garnered in
less careworn years
what to make of
desultory heirloom
collections of stanzas
disjointed forgotten
insensibly purposed
how useless the words
scribbled too long ago
yellowed wrinkled
their prettiness
spoiled by hardship
of half-hearted effort
who would possibly
want them recite
them perhaps best
to leave them behind
here among these old
shadows that whisper
the end awaits nigh
let the elements
hasten their molder
and lighten the load
for what journey
remains the last leg
the short road that
leads close ahead into
mists sighing blissful
with quiet obscurity

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POEM: The Death of Green

**head bowed in melancholy**

Iamluminous's Blog

Brown.

Broken down into bastard bits

and blown by the breeze

As Autumn seized us

and severed the bond…Our bond.

First, Your barks cracked

then my energy was sapped

and then all that was green,

and all that was glossy,

all that seemed to grow,

all that seemed to glow,

Dispersed, Dried and died.

View original post

unBeautiful

I arched my brows, asked
The ugly why they answers their name
I struck an arrow in logic’s implanted eyes,
Found threshold of choices


Faces bear same burden of plateaus,
Gorges, plains
We select a handful,
Rechristen them pageants,
Make them moons, banish
Leftovers into dungeons
To think about why they are what they are
As though they could choose to be moons

Retrospection

angry grandma“Please Mama, I’m sorry, I will not do it again, I promise!” Supo blabbered amidst wails as tears indiscreetly flooded his face. His grandmother, a sturdy, old woman who looked younger than she actually was, held his left hand firmly, as one would hold on to a pole on a train trip, lashing on his nine-years-old backside with a cane longer than Supo himself. He struggled wildly, in his own little way, fighting to yank himself from Mama’s firm grasp of his arm. That wish dissolved in the wind, as salt in boiling water.
“You are a thief, stupid boy; you want to grow up to be an armed robber, abi? Over my dead body. When I finish with you, you will see your daddy and call him your mummy. Ole jatijati lo fe ya.” His grandmother ranted in short pants, each word or phrase coming at intervals, the timing complemented each stroke she released on Supo and his incessant reciprocating pleas, making it sound like a duette in making. Her eyes raged with fury, causing a conspicuous squeeze on her forehead.

Supo started living with his grandmother when he was a little over two years old. His mother died as well as a sibling she was bringing to the world for him, and his father was doing a lousy job at raising him alone. Mama pleaded with his father to let him stay with her until he was a little older. She had hoped that his presence would fill the void created by the loss of her daughter.

He arrived from school that day and mama led him to his bedroom to change from his smart looking white short-sleeve shirt and navy blue shorts school uniform into a house wear. She left him in her shop, a small extension in front of the house where she sold mostly, petty things: provisions and other items for immediate household use, to bring him lunch from the kitchen in the main building. She sensed a familiar aura of mischief around him when she returned. She systematically placed his food down, so her face will be close to his for clues of what he was up to; what graced her nose was the sweet smelling scent of Robot chewing gum.
“What’s in your mouth?” She asked suddenly, staring deep into his eyes. The question startled him, terror consumed him as the thought of exposure, and the resulting punishment flashed through his little mind. The result would not be pleasant so he did the only thing his naïve mind deemed best. She saw a tug in his neck and swiftly barked:
“What did you just swallow?” Mama asked sternly
Unconscious of his widened eyes and rapid breathing giving him away, he replied.
“Nothing” His mouth stank of guilt.
Mama was mad. She gave him a prologue to the hell she was about to let loose on him; a couple of slaps on his face were quickly followed by smacks on the back of his head. With a sudden burst of energy and the swiftness of a ninja, she grabbed a whip from a corner of the shop and started at the little boy’s bony backside. The whip danced from his back to his buttocks, to his legs and returned to his back.

Mama had a reputation for rigidity in parenthood, particularly with instilling morals and correcting misconducts in children. Her favorite adage was ojo a ba riibi niibi n wole. That is a Yoruba proverb literarily meaning ‘The day we perceive an abomination is when the abomination is buried’. What angered her most was that he was committing the same offence for the third time. She was exhausted after beating him and was determined to correct the new habit in Supo permanently. She took a new razor from a pack and made three little incisions of about half a centimeter each on Supo’s hand. She applied some fresh pepper on it. Supo was too exhausted from the previous beating to cry aloud. He sobbed quietly as he endured the fire dripping into his right hand and stinging his soul. His relatively undeveloped mind may be too young to grasp the concept of death but at that moment, he did not wish for delicious food, toy cars or a bicycle, but a sure way to release himself from the horror of retribution. During this time, however, he realized why preachers insist one must live a righteous life.
*****
He drops the last of his luggage in the booth of his father’s car. He turned around and for the last time, with his eyes firmly shut, he inhales deeply-the warm air of what will be a big chapter in his book of history. He is fifteen years old now, old enough to comprehend the passing of time, and everything it consumes. He takes a last look at the marble-crested headstone of what is and will forever be his grandmother’s new home. He enters the passenger seat of his father’s car, and fastens his seat belt.
“Are we set?” His father asks as he enters the car.
“Yes sir.” He answers, not very audibly.
father and son drivingHe looks at his father. His father smiles and ruffles his well-combed hair. He smiles back, slightly withdrawing his head from his father’s hand. His father starts the engine to begin their trip back home. He strokes his hand as they travel, knowing that a part of Mama’s heart beats underneath the three holes covered with undisguisable lids that he can never physically open.
retrospectionFor some reasons that elude him, he feels no bliss, pain, anger or anxiety. He knows he will always have a home right there, in the depth of memories that will be locked and unlocked by the scars his hand bear; and that, he is sure, is everything he needs for the remainder of his journey.

Short-term



You lingered.
The sun ended its shift
Before your arrival.
In the subtlety of dusk
Wind whistled and leaves
Caressed leaves,
Making music of an unearthly genre
The spotlight shot and you began to sing
In a customary soprano monotone

The spotlight trails your steps
Fading out on your abrupt departure
We are still settling into your tone
But your mind is set
You sign no autograph
Before flinging your pen
Alien guards barricade your exit
To repel attempts of dissuade you

We watch from behind bulletproof glass
You dissolve, with inadvertent sluggishness
Into dwindling oblivion
At night’s first yawn.
It seem a secret, from the sun,
You must conceal



Intention

Intention.

A thought, possibility.

A reverie unravels

When limbs barge out of a lump

As the mystery of reality

Takes form in a sanctuary.

 

An experimental inference,

Bearer of secrets that make

See-through glasses

Sings the best of songs:

“Mama!”

Amaal Said

| unstitching the mouth |

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