Title: We Who Sowed Hurt and Beaded Pains
Author: Kukogho Iruesiri Samson
Genre: Poetry and (Sketches)
Publisher: Words Rhymes & Rhythm
Year of Publication: 2017
No. of Pages: 55
Reviewer: Ojo Olumide Emmanuel
To be a writer is to be in the world, to bear the world on your shoulder and only seek out respite when the world evolves in a safe place. This is the ethos in Kukogho Iruesiri Samson’s “We Who Sowed Hurt and Beaded Pains.” Like a surgeon, this poet dissects the anatomy of depression in a narrative poise, emotive in imageries, succinct in metaphors and poignant with deep realities about the concept of grief, depression and suicide. The collection is socially conscious and seeks to draw attention to the process of depression and what happens when it reaches a climax. The beauty of this collection is that tackles a particular motif using the varied dimension of reasoning, lenses and consciousness in fair poetic language and acumen to treat a delicate social problem that concerns everyone, especially, since writers who battle with depression only express and address them through dark poems which are creatively stunning and submerging, but may not address the storm raging in their minds- some like Akachi, Rubygold and others have also lost the battle to suicide.
The first poem in the collection titled “Metamorphosis” (10) analyzes the process of depression, from “clashing thoughts” unto the leaves of a troubled mind to long silence in place of speech and then salvation /in the knot of a twine and the branch of a tree/ his friends, his kin, they called it suicide!/ This tells the reader that the peak of depression is suicide yet it is not immediate but gradual as the person goes through grief, then withdrawal from people, a season of long silence and then suicide ferry them beyond.
In 3rd Mainland Bridge (11), the poet alludes to the putrefaction in the mind of a depressed individual to the rot of this Lagos Bridge /i do not know why i’m standing here/on this dying bridge watching a canoe paddling through continents of debris…/ Suicidal thoughts like debris continue to reoccur in the mind of a depressed person. The Bridge is also a passage to oblivion as many have surrendered to it.
The poet criticizes how people react to a suicide fate on social media in “Dave was his Original Name” (13). Rather than a show of empathy towards the victim, it is utilized to gain cheap social media popularity /well, linda and the chatty kin (social media users) headlined him in a thousand baptisms (names), each was worth a million clicks!/ people are always eager to report a piece of bad news as “breaking news” instead of rendering help to the victim. This is a huge loss of/to our humanity.
In the poem “I am Looking for my Childhood” (15), the poet runs the reader on a memory rail of how defective childhood anchored by rejection and anguish can affect the mental stability of an individual /but how do i tell them that i fell here and earned this scar/ i fought there and broke this tooth/ i buried a tear here and there…/ Although it is true that we all have a right to make mistake and human weaknesses are part of our imperfect humanity, people are always unwilling to excuse this and this may lead to depression and suicide, especially for people who cannot handle severe criticisms.
The poet takes a swipe at society for contributing to the issue of depression and how this has also led to social disorders like violence in the poem “I Know a Man Who Cries with His Fists” (18) /do not betray your tears/ for that is not the way of a strong man./ This is further heightened in the poem “ A Grown Man’s Tears” (19) where “man” is not free to express his emotions as this will be counted as weakness even though depression is already flooding him a way /each day, his fists cry a raging river/ that crack bones and break down walls/ but his eyes, they never betray tears…/ whereas people deserve to be comforted first of their grief before they are asked to embrace courage irrespective of their gender.
The poem “There are Shadows Inside Me” (21) seeks to lay bare that everyone is carrying one baggage or the other, or battling with an inner demon which may not be glaring to others /so i murdered my tears, many of them/and buried them inside my little boxes- a toddler’s sorrows, a teenager’s losses/ and a bearded man’s many failures…/
In the poem “People Never Understand” (24), the poet acknowledges that focus is what one requires in life seeing one can never meet up with the expectation of people /dream wild… plan big… work hard… never mind what people say… people never understand/
“A Man and Himself” (26) encapsulate man’s struggle with himself and, other seen and unseen forces. In a quest to define himself and find a niche in his life- he may choose the comfort of a rope and the ceiling if things turn out bad. The poem ends with a question /what if man appeared here writing this/ would you show him the short path to bliss? /
The poem “Happiness is Sand in an Hourglass” (36) describes the mutability of happiness as something ephemeral which must be enjoyed in its moment like the grains of hourglass /it pours- slow, steady…/ and like the highest cloud of a lovers coitus.
In “Lie-f” (38), the poet juxtaposes the ironies of life /raindrops from the eyes/drought in the heart/inferno in the eyes/ice in the soul/ and he concludes that /life is a life!/ The poet’s conclusion may be valid but it is not absolute because the ideas juxtaposed in the poems can both happen and express the same emotion.
“Envy me not” (54) calls the reader to a conference of awareness that what is seen about a person may not be the true picture of things /do not envy me/because i wear a smile/and my face bears no tears… so, envy not my shoes for i know where it pinches/ my toe-corns with bear me witness…/
In conclusion, Kukogho Samson’s “We Who Sowed Hurt & Beaded Pains” has been able to help the reader see the pain from a rounded or three-dimensional view, which is from the individual bearing the pain, from those around the persona and the society, and how people contribute to the pain of others by the simple things they do which may seem insignificant but cracks a wall in the mind of the person affected. This is to install empathy in the heart of the reader(s) since empathy is the medicine that can heal our grief-ridden world. It is also important to note that the author’s use of suggestive titles for each poem accompanied by sketches made the collection ‘readerly’ and thereby made comprehension of the poems easy. Therefore, the collection has achieved what it set out to do and is useful to knowledge dogma.
Ojo Olumide Emmanuel is a Nigerian Poet and Book Editor. He is the Author of the Poetry Chapbook “Supplication For Years in Sands” (Polarsphere Books, 2021). His works have appeared and forthcoming at Feral, Quills, Poemify, Melbourne-Culture, TNR and elsewhere. He currently curates the monthly Wakasoprize for Poetry and Abubakar Gimba Prize for Short Fiction. He is a fellow of the SprinNG Writers Fellowship. Say hi to him on Twitter @OjoOlumideEmma2