Review

PAINTED BLUE WITH SALT WATER

PAINTED BLUE WITH SALT WATER by Logan February

Firstly, I have to say I love this poetry chapbook’s cover! It was so calming and represents its themes.

Secondly, I honestly read the poems in Logan February’s voice. The privilege of listening to him read erotic poems during Poetry After Dark during #LIPFest18

Thirdly, I’ve learnt, “Know yourself and do not be ashamed of what others think. Fly above shackling realities.” from this book.

My favourite poems are; The Ghost of Valentino, Ixora, Self Portrait as a Pussyboy, Lonesome Bodies, Black Hoodie, Wolfboy, Heartache and

In The Light of the Prayer Room, ‘Where I pray/ is the kind of room/ whose walls should be painted blue/ with saltwater.’ I was excited spotting the title of the chapbook.

A Night of No New Things, ‘Dissolve two fallen stars in a cup of chamomile/and it tastes a lot like sweet deception.’

Self Portrait as a Rainbow Boy, ‘From the Prisma of the swirling,/I learn that you can still look pretty/in the middle of ruin.’ There were a lot of self-portraits that made me wonder how many ways can I examine myself.

I read this chapbook filled with 30 poems of varying lengths twice. It’s a book I feel I can travel with. It’s so refreshing! With themes of love lust, hope and flight, fluidity, queerness and family. The poems are honest, imaginative, self-reflective, intimate with vivid imagery. I liked the references of the sea. The way these poems painted stories of queer love, acceptance, hidden affairs, homophobic violence was moving. I highly recommend this poetry chapbook.

More info.

Logan February is a poet, co-editor in chief of The Ellis Review and happy Nigerian owl. Say hi to him here. This is his second poetry chapbook. Published by Indolent Books, Brooklyn, New York, 2018.

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My LIPFest ’18 Volunteer Experience: Before Festival

ABOUT LIPFEST 2018

If you recall, in my Lush October welcome post, I gushed about volunteering for poetry festival. My volunteer application for Lagos International Poetry Festival 2018 was accepted. I’ll be recording my experience volunteering for the festival. I hope this series assist you decide to volunteer or attend future LIPFest editions.  LIPFEST is West Africa’s largest poetry festival for poets, creatives and visitors from around the world. It’s fourth edition, themed Wide Awake, examines the growing importance of vigilance in a post-truth era. Conversations will explore new frontiers in the fight for gender equality and identity, racial and social justice and how the concerns of awakening collective consciousness and mediating justified paranoia animates art. At Freedom Park, Old Prison Ground Street, Lagos from Oct. 31th – Nov. 4th the festival draws 35 guests from 12 countries for a series of events. These include 4 workshops and masterclasses, 10 panel discussions, 5 evenings of readings and performances, 1 concert, 2 parties (Lagos style). LIPFest 2018 launches its poet in residence program with the phenomenal South African poet and activist Lebo Mashile.

22.10.2018

Introductory Volunteer Training

I’d responded to the email affirming my volunteer application on Saturday. It instructed I get to an address at Ikeja GRA for 11 am on Monday 22nd. I got to the address an hour early but the training began a few minutes past 11am. I met a giraffe while I waited at the lobby reading two stories from Leslie Arimah’s What It Means When A Man Falls from the Sky. Yeah, I took a picture of it after the meet-up/introductory session hosted by Seun Alli, the LIPFest 2018 Project Manager. She addressed us warmly in a board room. We introduced ourselves Shade, Grace, Tobi, Seun and I. Seun Alli introduced the festival, its 4th Edition theme, Wide Awake, inquiring about our thoughts during her introduction. She proceeded to discuss the programme and various categories the LIPFest Team has and their responsibilities. A list of ethics and rules were shared. Volunteers need to be friendly, honest, accepting, punctual and effectively diligent. She talked about the festival’s founder Efe Paul Arinzo, Lebo Mashile the South African poet in resident, other guests and sponsors.  Seun Alli mentioned we would be given N5,000 as a token for transportation from the LIPFest team. We had an exercise to build connections. I’d been worried it would be a shaku shaku dance exercise. Because I can’t dance shaku shaku expertly and many Africana companies take ‘urban’ and ‘informal’ to a silly extreme. Instead we had to write one truth and lie about ourselves on pieces of paper, shuffle them then guess out the truth or lie. It was fun! We were given 5 tickets for the Concert and Poetry After Dark event respectively for sale. The meeting/training ended past 12 noon with promises of an email offer contract from the organizers. I did get that email in the evening.

Poetry After Dark official ticket

23.10.2018

Offer Letter to LIPFest Volunteers

The offer letter had terms and conditions which set out everything to be known and needed for a volunteer contract between the volunteer and LIPFest Team. There were 8  clauses, an acceptance column and segment for contact and account details. I filled in my residential address and phone number in the spaces provided. I’ll briefly discuss the terms and conditions of this detailed offer letter. The first clause was training and it stated the training I attended the previous day was mandatory. The offer letter shows your volunteer application is accepted. Second clause was scope and detail of work. It stated the volunteer contract commences Monday 29th but didn’t specify the end of the contract. Even under termination, clause 8, which lists 3 situations that lead to termination without liability after given notice. Work hours are 9am-9pm with an hour break. Volunteer is to sign-in their attendance with Project Manager at assigned venues. The offer letter warns the hours may be longer. General responsibilities listed don’t differ from those mentioned at the training. These include:

  • Organizing queues, hand out brochures and answer practical questions about the programme, suggesting events to attend and giving more details about the festival events in general.
  • Registering and ushering LIPFest Visitors and guests through festival venues
  • Ticket sale for the Festival concert and party(Poetry After Dark)
  • Promotion of the festival via social media.
  • Complete any other tasks assigned to you by the Project Manager, your supervisor and other members of the LIPFest team related to the successful delivery of the event.

the reception giraffe..

Another clause mentioned the travel stipend of N5,000 in Welfare payable within 10 working days after the fest. Dress Code is provided branded tshirt, blue/black jeans, comfortable shoes to be worn through out. This reminded me of my outfit suggestions in Attending Literary Festivals in Nigeria. There are important clauses like Data Protection and Photography Consent. The former seeks to bind volunterers not to personally use data collection during festival. A very important clause. The latter clause requested I agree to the taking of my pictures and videos, using them with/without references and passing these to media houses, etc around the world.  The festival’s sole liability are under scope and detail of work, dress code and welfare.

 

24.10.2018

LIPFest Volunteer Contract

I reread the printed offer letter, made notes of my responsibilities, Festival’s liabilities and other legal issues highlighted. I filled it and appended my signature. Just with that, I’d entered a legally binding contract with LIPFest to volunteer for their 2018 Edition. I attached scans of my signed contract, all three pages, in an email to the Project Manager. In my email I requested we be given more than one tshirt for the duration of the festival. It will be nice if its granted. I don’t want to be scented mangoes and dried sweat. So the magic begins behind the scenes 29th October. I’m really excited but saving for my expenses. Plus, I’m selling tickets to the Concert and Poetry After Dark party.

Are you attending LIPFest 2018? It would be a delight seeing you Gem!

September Sizzle

Pluck every bright moment of joy in September gemstone!

Its two days to the start of my 500 level second semester exams for my LL.B program. September is beginning with a sizzle! It hasn’t been easy staying away from reading fiction(ok, ok, I admit I read peeked two chapters of Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour). Let’s take stalk of August and I’ll share my plans for the blog this September. I have spent the past two months researching and typing my LL.B Project. However, the past few weeks I had to add tests, semester papers, examination prep to the mix. I had to put myself on a study curfew (ie. limited social media use, less frequent dates, nutritious meals, biweekly exercising, journalling, no fiction reading, reading legal academic and research papers or coursework). There have been moments where I squeal with excitement and sigh with worry.

In the midst of this I was temporarily displaced from my apartment by flood during the Ileya holiday.  I’m grateful to usher in September while back at my apartment.  I read a lot of Young Adult Fiction in the earlier weeks of August. To check out my reviews click here. I read When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the best burger in Los Angeles). Both books were on my August To-Be-Read list. I started a new category, Creative Non-Fiction for my none fiction pieces. Have you read Ileya In Lagos? I’m proud to have completed reading Meet Cute. I’ll publish an updated Did-Not-Finish book list second week of September. 

This September I want to publish drafts of my thoughts on books I read in August and previous months. With September begins the “EMBER” months and Christmas countdown. I’m thinking of publishing a creative non-fiction piece about my December tour of Cross River State in 2017 with some useful travel tips. A avid reader of the blog requested I share my experience vacationing in Nigeria ie. costs, safety and fun. Aside book reviews and more creative non-fiction pieces. All the fiction I see in music videos, and literature I hear in song lyrics will get featured in Sounds. My photography has really improved. Spot both (unedited) pictures above. I’ll be sharing more images on the blog the rest of the year. Its tempting to share my post schedule but I’ll resist. I’m still wrapping up my project typing and editing anyway.

My decadent chocolate baking sis, book girlfriend/full time Muslimah fashionista, my quirky partner and I are counting down to when all four of us will go watch Crazy Rich Asians (a movie adaption of same tilted book by Kevin Kwan at) Marturion Cinemas  at Igando in Lagos. I saw the trailer two weeks ago and kept squealing while identifying which part of the book I was looking at through the cinematic vibrancy. In August Netlfix dropped the movie adaption of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. Study curfew prevented me from watching it. My september reading interests are currently legal academic papers, fiction titles are still undecided.

On my To-Be- Read List are the following books:

  • Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
  • It Wasn’t Exactly Love by Farafina Writing Trust Workshop
  • Laughing As They Chased Us by Sarah Jackman
  • The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson

Have you made plans to spend time with loved ones?

What will you be reading this September?

Are you going through any career progression or change currently?

Let me know Gemstone. Enjoy your month.

CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE BY TOMI ADEYEMI

“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war. I give you the strength to fight, but you all must learn the strength of restraint.”

“When your opponent has no honor, you must fight in different ways, smarter ways.”

Many bookstagram reviews of this international bestselling YA Fantasy all put the first quote without its accompanying second sentence on strength. This sentence cautions restraint, without it things can go wrong. Gosh! I’m enchanted by this novel. The last time I read fantasy that resonated this much with me was with Georgina Kincaid and her Succubus series by Richelle Mead and Carter and Sade Kane of the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan  I dropped reading A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Meet Cute (Young Adult Fiction collections) to read Children of Blood and Bone during the last week of July. I’d wanted to read some different after a long stressful day.

If you peer closely you’ll see small drops of ogogoro in my mini mug. I sipped that shot like Zelie in celebration of the victorious last sentences.

A world of magical wonders and brutal realities..Orisha. The narrative introduces one to the new Orisha where magic is missing and Zelie’s biggest worries include passing initiation and taxes. The old Orisha had Majis who were white-haired, Orisha Mama’s magic blessed, children of blood and bone. It’s amazing the fantasy woven around the Orisha gods was inspired by Yoruba deities. I kept nodding to the various magical powers each maji clan possessed from their sister goddesses and brother gods. Reapers who summoned souls, Tiders and Yemoja, Burners who blazed fiery, Healers and Cancer, and Seers. When various characters touch with a magic scroll it sparks magic in Divîners and Kosidans alike. You can take a quiz to find out which clan you belong to here.

This heroine’s narrations are shadowed by fearful memories of her mother’s execution and past beauties of magical Orisha. I was always pulled away from these to her meagre existence. Yet Zelie had a strong drive for survival and freedom. Zelie is impulsive, silver-eyed beauty, gifted Reaper, smart, seasoned trader, skilled fighter, leader and compassionate heroine. Amari and Inan, both children of the tyrant king narrate the plot with Zelie on a quest to return magic to Orisha. One of the beautiful things about these characters describing the plot and other characters were their unique personas. Growth of Zelie, Amari and Inan occurred slowly throughout the novel. Amari, the scared Princess grew bravely to be the Lionaire. Inan, Little Prince who sacrificed everything to be everything his cruel father wanted. He struggled with his sense of duty and being himself. Tzain, Mama Agba, Kaea, Nailah, Zu, Baba, Roën and other minor characters play huge supporting roles in this tumultuous quest. I was sad that Amari and Tzain’s budding romance was halted while Zelie and Inan’s passionate one was fervently frustrated. But I remain a hopeful romantic while waiting for a sequel. 

Children of Blood and Bone mirrors a lot of real life issues we face in our societies like police brutality, racial or ethnic discrimination, gradual loss of culture, poverty and political tyranny. This mirror holds the themes and lessons one can learn from the novel. It’s robust plot was hijacked by plot twists, suspense and intrigue. CBB is written in simple English with Yoruba phrases and coined terms. Irony was one of literary techniques expertly utilised in this fantasy. Flashback and character dialogues were used to fill in the plot. Simile and imagery are two literary techniques artistically employed in this novel, (eg. the light’s voice is smooth like silk, soft like velvet. It wraps itself around my form, drawing me to it’s warmth). I found it ironic the King destroyed other families and his children while avenging his dead family. Another major irony was that Zelie hungered for change but was afraid of the possibilities magic could create. Out of the Eighty-five chapters my favourite chapter was Fifty-seven (plus the Epilogue of course). This chapter’s festivities and pet Lionaire Nailah inspired by book photo. Coincidentally it’s the author’s favourite chapter.

Landscape and animals in Orisha are nothing like anything I’ve read. Blue whisked bee-eaters, large panthonaires, snow leopanaires, stalking hyenaire. A map of Orisha is presented before the first chapter began. I enjoyed that the plot took us around that map and Orisha’s interesting landscape. It’s a highly recommended African Fantasy and YA Fiction book. For its plot twists resolutions and unexpected end of the last battle, four and a half fireworks! Did they succeed in bringing back magic? Did tyrant King Saran and his reign end? You’ll have to read to find out. To see more gorgeous book pictures or fan art click #childrenofbloodandbone.

 

More Info..

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian American writer and creative writing coach. Children of Blood and Bone is her first novel. Published in 2017 by Henry Holt and Company, a trademark of Macmillian Publishing Group LLC.

*this is a Flashback Friday Fiction feature review.*