I like poetry that seeps through my skin and burrows deep into my mind. I adore warm words with a side of emotions enveloping me in intimacy. Poetry should be a mirror into a poet’s heart, into their fears and joys. It should be true. I want to see naked souls when I read their words.
Olanrewaju Oranyeli has successfully taken me up a cliff and showed me his kingdom. His book, “Caricature of Colours” is full of glistening towers and monochrome-coloured rooms. His poems are deep, often dwelling on the fragility of love and reckless feelings. Other poems walk a path that leads through dark roads and wasted dreams, but there is also a huge mix of optimistic poetry between.
A regular theme running through Oranyeli’s poems is the fact that there is time for everything: birth, youth, loss, love, and death. One such poem is the aptly named “Time“:
“You cannot be 34 always,
Finding many gods in life’s philosophy.
painting movements with careful brush
solving life’s illusive equation
and biting your tongue to show subtlety.”
With the passage of time winding its way through this book, we’re faced with the fact that nothing is as it seems, the world does not give a rat’s arse about you, and the rat race is almost trivial if we look at the big picture. However, it’s not all gloom and doom as poems like “Living”, encourage us to find little pockets of happiness and hope in the darkness life sometimes blinds us with.
Oranyeli threads the theme of love through his poems by delving into various manifestations of the mystery that lies beneath emotions. Emotions that often run from pure manifestations of love to unrequited yearning to doomed love. “Mint Aroma“ examines crossing the line between friendship and love and the things that happen after. Few people ever change states and go back unscathed. The last few lines of the poem are life and truth:
“…but I learnt that, in the recipe of friendship,
clear instructions must be understood before
cooking ever commences.”
Oranyeli is smooth. His women are beautiful Amazons with “child bearing hips” and “silken skin”. In “Grace” he extols his lady’s beauty:
“Her branches, oh her branches
they spread above the earth and sprinkle pollens into the universe
we call them stars but those things are really made of her
and even if I told her, she’d smile and say it’s nothing
only if she knew, only if she really knew.”
Oranyeli’s poems explore the voids within most of us which we seek to fill with love or material things or thoughts. According to him, we’re all “trying at living”.
His book is divided into sections, all colours: yellow, mint, grey, blue, and orange. Poems in the grey section deal with more practical issues. Yellow poems are lighter, more emotional. He integrates the use of all the senses in his poems: beautiful yellow birds, soft voices, the feel of fabric, spicy smells from homemade meals, and delicious cups of tea. Imagery is excellent in this book, and the poet’s expressiveness makes it easy to fall into his poems. With his ability to project his thoughts easily, I wager he’ll go a long way in his journey to stardom.
Chiamaka Onu-Okpara is a freelance book editor with experience editing fiction, creative non-fiction, and academic documents (Social Sciences and Humanities). Her stories have been published in Ake Review, Apex Magazine, and The Kalahari Review amongst other places. Her first poem is forthcoming in Strange Horizons.