The Origin of Butterflies by Romeo Oriogun
‘The first rule of survival is to run’
‘Give a man words &he will build a castle/ full of darkness & light.’
‘You want to fill your bones with wine/till a boy swims into your hands.’
I’ve read this chapbook twice. Then my favorite poems some more. It is brutally truthful, graphic and lyrical work.
‘I want to love a boy/who tastes of fear & still smiles’
My Favourite Poems
The Origin of Butterflies
To The Boy Who Flew Away
‘I know how a body enters itself/ to hide desire behind sadness’.
Feeling exiled at home. Singing songs of truths in the dark. Violence against Nigerian gay men. Flight of Freedom. Resilience. Fear. Self acceptance. Longing. Search for love and home. Survival. Are themes of this poetry chapbook and they will make you feel, see, smell, fear, anger, soar and hope.
‘You can never/break songs/of sunrise/into dark spirits’
Repetition of themes made me uneasy after some poems. But I feel that is the desired effect. A flight through what queer males in Nigeria feel and experience. These poems call out homophobic attacks and Nigeria. Then disagree with horrific mob burning, family beatings, discrimination, criminalization, fear and more.
‘You know sanctuary is where your hips/grow feathers & fly’
I feel The Origin of Butterflies charts the map of how one takes flight to live and love in freedom not found in ones homeland while guiding one on how to beautifully survive.
I highly recommend this bold chapbook with 4 stars. You can purchase it from Ouida House.
Romeo Oriogun is the author of numerous poems published in Brittle Paper, EXPOUND, Afridiaspora among others. Departure, Kumbaya and Saddest Night Alive in this chapbook were first published in Brittle Paper. I wrote a review of Departure in 2018 here. He’s also the author of Burnt Men, an electronic chapbook published by Praxis Magazine Online and the 2018 winner of Brunel International African Poetry Prize.
The Origin of Butterflies is published by Akashic Books, Brooklyn New York, USA in 2018.