Poetry is a vehicle capable of being spun in many directions. It could tilt towards the socially conscious, aim for the didactic, or simply exist for entertainment purposes. In Dead Lions Don’t Roar, Tolu Akinyemi employs verses to capture all the foregoing.
Who Am I? dwells on identity and self-worth; Individual Affair emphasizes the need to eschew a herd mentality; Tolutoludo focuses on the depth in meaning of African names; Camouflage offers perspective on the exclusivity of the Nigerian military uniform; Pharisees and Sadducees involves verses that frown at hypocrisy; I Am Tired takes a swipe at excessive religiosity; and The Future Leaders of Tomorrow tells us that the youths face trying times ahead.
Setting and geography have always occupied a special place in the heart of literature, and location possesses some sort of spirit that bears down on a piece of art. Akinyemi is aware of this and pays small tributes to the places he has been, with poems like Newcastle, Kilimanjaro, Trip to Kerela and the politically instructive United States of A. There is as much culture as there is climate in these pieces, much to the author’s credit.
Odes are a variant of poetry, and Akinyemi is definitely not shy to scribble a thing or two about his friends. Little Patters, Kwame, Treasure, A Clean Tackle, Yen, Baba Seventy, Get Brindled and Funmilayo are all written to celebrate individuals who are special to the author. Who wouldn’t want their names immortalized in a book?
While the lyricism and use of language here is very much similar to what you’ll find in Akinyemi’s other poetry collection, Dead Lions Don’t Roar, the notes are a little heavier here, and there’s a degree of sombreness, too. The play on words is still evident, but there isn’t too much humour like in Akinyemi’s other book. The simplicity is retained, and there isn’t much by way of “depth” as would probably be expected by critical poetry enthusiasts, but clarity is the name of the game here, one that Tolu Akinyemi plays at expert level. In conclusion, Dead Dogs Don’t Bark is as culturally relevant as can be, and this deserves commendation.