Published by Kraft Books, Denja Abdullahi’s new book, The Road to Bauchi and Other Poems is a slim volume of forty two short poems grouped into four sections, namely: “Bauchi Poems”, “Haiku Poems”, “Of People and Places”, and “Receding Song”. This poetic harvest is a carnival in a way, a feast of creativity which is lyrical, nostalgic, and contemplative in parts. It is a festival of life and a celebration of humanity. In this volume, especially in the section titled “Bauchi Poems”, the city of Bauchi, herself a symbol of Northern Nigeria, assumes the status of a protagonist, a heroine which the poet celebrates and interrogates from different angles, with allusions to several features, physical and historical landmarks, as well as personalities.
The poems reflect the beautiful landscapes of Northern Nigeria through graphic description of its geography and natural environment. In this guise, the poet engages in critical social commentaries on human life and existence in Northern Nigeria in a language that is simple, lucid, and descriptive.
In the section titled “Haiku Poems”, the poet, in his usual experimental approach, delves into the Japanese tradition of haiku poetry. The typical haiku poem is usually composed of three unrhymed lines of seventeen syllables. In his quest for novelty, the poet goes as far as reproducing some of the haiku poems in the Japanese script.
“Of People and Places” is a group of poems either inspired by, or are dedicated to cherished personalities and places in Northern Nigeria where the poet lives most of his life. Some of these poems are philosophical in the way they contemplate the nature of human existence, while others are nostalgic in tone and rendition.
“Songs of My Fathers”, the only poem in the section titled “Receding Song”, uncovers the poet’s (himself a symbol of humanity) relentless search for rest.
In a nutshell, The Road to Bauchi and Other Poems is an arresting collection of poems on various thematic subjects. The poet’s adventurous imagination is manifest in the experimentation with the Japanese tradition of haiku poetry. The language of the poems is simple and inviting to the average reader. As a book which can be described as poetry for everyman, Denja Abdullahi’s The Road to Bauchi and Other Poems is undoubtedly a worthy contribution to the African tradition of letters.
Sani Gambo, PhD
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