Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 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In “Love Songs,” Ajayi writes, “Your Eliotness,/ My sun last shone when you left;/ It has since been replaced by this/ Placid moon, hanging rather badly/ Like a wind-mangle, tree-snagged kite.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: , , , ,

Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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

Dinaw Mengestu, Mia Couto, Laila Lalami & Others Featured in The Decameron Project, a Collection of COVID-19 Inspired Stories

Decameron

If there’s one thing we know for sure about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that it will mark our imaginations […]

What Does Tragedy Have to do With Grief? — Prof. Ato Quayson on a New Episode of Critics.Reading.Writing

Professor Ato Quayson YouTube Channel Critic, Reading, Writing (1)

The first episode of Professor Ato Quayson’s youtube show is up! Ato Quayson is a Professor of English at Stanford […]

Saara El-Arifi’s Signs 2 Six-Figure Deals for Her Debut Novel The Final Strife

Saara El-Arifi's The Final Strife Double Six-Figure Deals

Sudanese-Arab-Ghanaian-British author Saara El-Arifi won big last week. Her debut novel The Final Strife landed a double six-figure deal in the […]

The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity Announces Judges and Advisory Council

The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity Announces Judges and Advisory Council (3)

The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity has announced the judges for the inaugural award and the advisory board. The […]

BBC 4 to Broadcast Reading of Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice

BBC 4 to Broadcast The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice will be narrated on BBC 4 by actress Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo. The novel […]

The 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize is Now Open for Entry

Apply for the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize

The Aspen Words Literary Prize is open for entry as of today. The $35,000 prize annually rewards an “influential work […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.