by Reginald C. Ofodile
Valentine Onyeka Ogunaka, the author of Dreams Wake Me, a collection comprising of both conventional poetry and contemporary ‘spoken word’, is widely known as ‘Brainbox.’ This book appears a box unlocked. It is a suitcase crammed with sparkling and scented items, contents now bestowed on humanity.
The collection opens with a poignant item ‘From the Book Trailer.’ That short poem depicts the deprived, sustained only by vision, aspirations – dreams. That affecting opening verse recalls lines from W.B. Yeats’ ‘Aedh wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,’ published in 1899.
‘… But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams’
In a book which sometimes seems a call to arms, Brainbox addresses diverse issues, from the personal to the nationalistic. His book might be art, but it is not art for its own sake. He is often exhortatory, forbidding defeat and dormancy, urging strength into drooping souls. Indeed, the empowering tone of ‘I dare not dread’ echoes what is probably the most famous inaugural poem in history, Maya Angelou’s ‘On the Pulse of Morning.’ ‘Waiting,’ which urges that one should not be hamstrung by feelings of futility, reflects Arthur Hugh Clough’s ‘Say not the Struggle not Availeth.’
Brainbox beams his poetic lens on the pretences and misfortunes of his generation. He emphasizes that those who crave success must pay its price. Thus, in ‘I Dare not Dread’
‘…without turbulent seas there would be no great sailors… you can never make beautiful stitches without needle piercings… without hot ironing, the creases on your cloths would scarcely disappear’
Although a short book, its topics and concerns approach the panoramic. It dispenses insights on contemporary reality, as well as entertainment. The voice in this collection ranges from classic poetic lyricism to dialect, chant and rap. Vigour and humour, valour and candour pervade the book, making Brainbox a remarkably gifted, inspirational and socially-conscious Spoken Word Artist from the hatchery of the modern Nigerian poetry scene.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
- Reginald OFODILE is a renowned British-Nigerian Poet and novelist. He appeared in Chimamanda Adichie’s effort, the movie: Half of a Yellow Sun.