Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."
dami-ajayi-Socrates-Mbamalu

Dami Ajayi

The recent shortlist of Clinical Blues in the ANA Poetry category confirms Dami Ajayi as a leading poet. The collection is divided into three parts around which is assembled images of the barroom, the hospital, and everything in between. Clinical blues is an ingenious attempt to convert medical tools and barroom tales into poetic statements that hit the nerve of the reader.

If imagery is food, poetry can’t survive without it. But the images in Clinical Blues are not the ones where Mama Afrika is praised, and her bushes are exalted, or her ancestors invoked and repudiated. Clinical Blues hits you with images like a card of dominoes, toppling over and over.  Every single experience and moment is channelled through a deft use of imagery, and it is this that propels the reader into the dark, twisted, and amusing mind of the poet.

Medical doctors have become poets, but not many have turned the hospital and its happenings into a subject of literary expression.

In the title poem “Clinical Blues,” the persona of the poem takes us through the hospital experience.

Your knees and knuckles shall clench
As pain takes its first bite
Your back shall know a bed
But no peace . . .

Ajayi’s language pricks you, makes you sympathetic and sad all at once. It is exactly this naked honesty—the poet offering his pain, happiness, disappointments as an offering to poetry unashamed—that draws us into his startling world. It hits us. We connect with the raw emotions that the poet purges out.

In “Love Songs,” Ajayi writes, “Your Eliotness,/ My sun last shone when you left;/ It has since been replaced by this/ Placid moon, hanging rather badly/ Like a wind-mangle, tree-snagged kite. He further writes: But last night, when the oil/ Of your voice threaded the intimate/ Crevice of my ear, I yearned/ Reminiscence, spoilt salad.”

In “Konji Blues,” the intimate is public. The speaker of the poem is ready to expose his loins and feels nothing about it. Haven’t we all experienced the first time when we thought the height of pleasure was in the moaning of our voices? We never expected the first time to be “raw/ Like pickled onions/ In a salad of insatiable libido.”

From the first page to the last, Ajayi captures ideas and concepts perfectly. In Clinical Blues, the stethoscope becomes an earpiece, and medicine becomes music and as for music music, ‘if it be the food of love, play me more. . .”

**************

About the Author:

Portrait - MbamaluSocrates Mbamalu is a writer with his works published in various online magazines. He lives in  Nigeria for now.
Socrates Mbamalu
Twitter: @linsoc

Tags: , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Out There: 5 Talkbits on War Futures in Outer Spaces | Ainehi Edoro, Camae Ayewa, Rasheeda Phillips, Keith Spencer & Jamie Thomas in Conversation

out there - graph

As part of its Horizons of the Humanities initiative, the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) will be hosting […]

Excerpt #2 | My Sister, The Serial Killer | by Oyinkan Braithwaite

my sister the serial killer

FATHER   Ayoola inherited the knife from him (and by “inherited” I mean she took it from his possessions before […]

Scholastique Mukasonga’s Novel, Our Lady of the Nile, in Film Production as Short Story Appears in The New Yorker

Scholastique Mukasonga by Sunday Times

Rwanda’s best known contemporary writer, Scholastique Mukasonga, author of the novel Our Lady of the Nile (2015) and the memoir Cockroaches […]

The 2018 Brittle Paper Anniversary Award: Meet the 8 Finalists

brittle paper anniversary award

The shortlists for the 2018 Brittle Paper Awards were announced in October. Begun in 2017 to mark our seventh anniversary, the Awards aim to recognize the […]

Demons in the Villa | Excerpt from Ebenezer Obadare’s Pentecostal Republic

pentecostal republics ebenezer obadare

Pentecostal Republic takes a hard look at the influence of pentecostalism in Nigerian politics. Prof. Obadare is a sociologist, who […]

Yasmin Belkhyr, Romeo Oriogun, Liyou Libsekal, JK Anowe Featured in Forthcoming 20.35 Africa Anthology Guest-Edited by Gbenga Adesina and Safia Elhillo

20.35 africa contributors

In February, we announced a call for submissions for a new poetry project. The anthology, 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.